When you share a link over iMessages, the Messages app in iOS generates a sort of preview of the link. The preview does not include a thumbnail of the website/link however it does show you what the title of the target link is. Additionally, if you’re using a URL shortener, the preview will still give you the page title of the link. It does not, however, remove the URL redirection so you can still be spammed or phished. The preview doesn’t add much protection and it takes longer to send a link because the preview is being generated which is why you might fare better if you turn off link preview in iMessages.
Turn Off Link Preview
There’s no built-in setting in the Messages app that lets you turn off link preview in iMessages. You have to use a small but simple hack to do it and it can only be done manually. The trick is to add a full stop/period before and after the link. For example; if you want to link someone to Google.com you would enter it as follows;
. https://www.google.com/ .
The link will be sent immediately, and it will not be accompanied by a preview. You and your recipient will not see the periods that you’ve added before and after the link. When either one of you taps on the link, it will open normally in Safari. This trick will also probably work on iMessages on macOS.
This obviously isn’t the most intuitive way to send links. The clipboard lets you copy and paste links so you don’t have to switch to the keyboard to send one however, this hack forces you to use the keyboard. It’s also of no use if you use the share sheet in iOS to send a link.
Why this works is anyone’s guess. The same trick does not work on other messaging apps that show link previews. For example, we tested the same trick on both Whatsapp and Facebook. In either case adding the two full stops did not make any difference and the previews were generated the same as always. This may have to do with how iMessages reads a link which means, in the future, Apple might change it making the hack obsolete. Perhaps someone could develop an iMessage app specifically for this but that would probably add one too many steps to the process than most iOS users would be comfortable with.
In an ideal world, Apple should just add an option to turn off link preview in iMessages.