More useful than SMS, slicker than Hangouts and easier to use than Skype, it's no wonder Whats App is the number one communications service of choice for hundreds of millions of smartphone users.

Unfortunately, it also makes it tough to ignore somebody without upsetting them.

Fortunately, there are ways to covertly read your messages, without those blue ticks appearing on your friend’s screen.

On i OS, you can see exactly how much space each of your chats takes up by navigating to Settings Storage Usage. You can save shortcuts to your favourite Whats App conversations directly on your home screen by tapping and holding a chat and selecting the Add Chat Shortcut option from the menu.

From there, you can easily free up space by deleting the content you definitely don’t need, with filters allowing you to get rid of specific file types, such as videos, pictures, voice messages, documents, contacts and locations. It will create what looks like a brand new app, adopting that particular conversation’s title and picture as its name and icon.

Beyond showing off, there’s no need to italicise your Whats App messages, or make them bold – all phone users know that’s what Caps Lock is for.

However, if you have the finger speed and are willing to commit the commands to memory, you can do exactly that.

If you don’t like the idea of someone else reading your Whats App messages as they flood in, through the previews that pop up on your screen, you can simply restrict the amount of information they display.

On Whats App for i OS, you can force previews to show the contact’s name only by heading to Settings Show Preview.

Sticking with the email theme, you can also use Whats App to send the same message to lots of your contacts without lumping them all into one group, much like the BCC option on email. All you need to do is hit the New Broadcast option on the app’s main menu.

Smartphones contain such deeply personal information that handing them over to a friend or family member can prove an ordeal.

To make a message bold, place it between two asterisks, like *this*.