WhatsApp just made it easier to find unread and group chat threads with new filter options

WhatsApp running on an iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

While Apple continues to refuse to bring iMessage to Android, third-party messaging apps remain the best option for many. Rich media messaging between iPhones and Android phones will get better when RCS support comes to iOS 18 later this year, but until then, it's all about apps like WhatsApp. And while it's far from the only option available for download via the App Store, the Meta-owned app is the one that springs to mind first for many — especially outside the United States. And it's rolling out a new feature to make it easier than ever to use.

The new feature is designed to make it easier and quicker to find the right chat thread while reducing the taps and scrolls required to do exactly that. It does that by offering a filter, and it's rolling out to users right now.

WhatsApp says that the new filter feature will be available to everyone within the coming weeks which means it might take a little while for it to reach your iPhone. But once it does arrive you can look forward to filters for three groups of messages although there is no option to create your own filter right now. WhatsApp hasn't said if that's something that will come in a future update, but it does seem like the next logical step.

Filtered chats

WhatsApp announced the new message thread filter via a blog post, saying that "as people increasingly do more on WhatsApp, it’s more important than ever before to be able to get to your messages fast." It goes on to say that is the reason behind the new Chat Filters feature, meaning users will be able to find the chat they want "without having to scroll through your full inbox."

Using the new filters is as easy as could be — just tap one of the three options that appear at the top of the chat list. Those three options are pretty self-explanatory, with the All filter being the default. That'll show every thread you have active, while Unread and Groups are the other two options, as WhatsApp explains:

  • Unread: Perfect for when you want to see which conversations you need to catch up on or respond to. It shows messages that are either marked by you as unread or haven’t been opened yet, so you can prioritize your responses.
  • Groups: A highly requested feature, now all your group chats will be organized in one place, making it easier to find your favorite ones whether it’s your weekly family dinner discussion or planning your next vacation. This will also show subgroups of Communities.

WhatsApp says that it believes "filters will make it easier for people to stay organized and find their most important conversations and help navigate through messages more efficiently." It also notes that it will continue to add more options to help people focus "on what matters most," but it's still unclear what those options will be.

You'll need the latest version of WhatsApp to see the new filters, but remember that it could still take a little while for them to roll out to your account. I don't have them just yet, but WhatsApp warns they could take weeks to arrive for all users.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.