WhatsApp can re-download media that was deleted from your phone’s storage. According to Android Police, the feature has been working for them in WhatsApp 2.18.205 beta for Android, and could also be working in earlier versions of WhatsApp.
We have tested out the feature, and it didn’t work for WhatsApp version 2.18.191 (currently the latest stable version on Google Play). It shows the same ‘Download Failed’ message. However, the feature is working on another of our devices which is running on version 2.18.205 beta.
As per Android Police, if you have deleted any media file from the gallery or file explorer then the feature will work for you, but if you had deleted it through WhatsApp itself, then there is no way to get it back.
You can simply go back to the conversation in WhatsApp, and you’ll find the blurred thumbnail in place of the deleted media file with a download button again. Tap on it, and the media file will get downloaded again. However, it isn’t clear how far back the feature will work, as there could be a time limit to saving the images on the server.
The second feature spotted by Android Police is the ability to hide downloaded media from your gallery. According to the report the feature became functional in the past week. The report notes there are two ways of hiding media: “one that works for the entire app, and another that lets you specifically change the setting per chat/group”. WhatsApp users can look for it under under Settings > Chats > Media visibility.
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By default the feature is enabled, which means that images will show in the gallery. But if you switch the option off, then images will not been shown in the gallery. You’ll be able to see these images either through the WhatsApp chat where the media was received, or through a file explorer app inside the WhatsApp folder. Moreover there is another control, in which you could apply the same setting for a particular friend on WhatsApp or a group, which you’ll have to do through ‘Media visibility’ there. Both features are said to be working for WhatsApp 2.18.205 beta.