So is supposed to be installed on a smartphone before you can use it on desktop? Unofficially, the desktop version is perfectly capable of creating new accounts. All you need is a number to receive an SMS or voice mail. Here is how.

Run Signal and press Ctrl-Shift-I to open Developer Tools (it's an Electron app). Switch to Console tab and enter the following command:


Use your actual phone number instead of +123456789.

If you prefer voice mail verification, use this command instead:


Once you have the verification code, run this command:

getAccountManager().registerSingleDevice("+123456789", "123-456".replace(/\D/g, ""))

Insert the actual code instead of 123-456.

If you see a 423 error - there is already an account for this number. Otherwise, restart Signal and you are done. You can start messaging people and enjoy that fancy end-to-end encryption thingy.

Disclaimer: The desktop client seems to lack quite a bit of functionality, so depending on your use case you might need a smartphone after all. For example, it seems that setting profile name and avatar isn't possible with the desktop client.

Things got considerably worse in the past years. The process of setting up a standalone desktop version of got more complicated and is broken even in the development version where it is enabled. There is a pull request to fix this which itself became broken.

But even if you (like me) waste considerable time to jump through all the hoops and activate your account regardless, your account ends up semi-broken: profile editing fails.

In the end I gave up and installed Signal in the Android emulator to create the account. Printed out the QR code so that I could show it to the webcam (orientation is important, just using a mirror didn’t work out).

Yes, Signal for desktop is still being neglected.


Wouldn’t using something like Keybase be better than signal? E2EE chat and a way to verify who you are talking to.

@jeff @WPalant As long as both sides opt to use exploding messages.

The API's just as much of a pain in the ass, though.


I wasn't aware of those issues, and it really is a shame. I like Signal though and wish they would be a little less closed off about their platform. Maybe federate the platform so that it is like TOR and there is not a chain of custody for messages.

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