[HOWTO] Using WhatsApp under shelter

At first I have to say, using WhatsApp is no good idea :wink: WhatsApp copies your entire address book on FB servers, with ALL fields. That means, if you have added some notes like contacts account number or bra size of your girl friend Fb has now these information available :frowning:
But sometimes there are some reasons to have WhatsApp available. To get a little ‘privacy’ while using WhatsApp you should use shelter. Shelter is a ‘Container/Sandbox’ which creates a work profile on your device. All apps in this work profile does only have access to the data inside the work profile.

If you want using shelter you have to install another launcher because at moment BlissLauncher can’t work with work profiles. But this will be solved after next source refresh on august, 5th. So if you are reading this after 18.05. forget point 1 and 2 :wink:

For using WhatsApp with shelter you should go this way

  1. Install another launcher like librechair https://gitlab.com/oldosfan/librechair
  2. install shelter from Apps
  3. start shelter and go thru the complete setup
    – now you will have some icons double in your drawer or you will have a section ‘Work’ in your drawer. Contacts for example, one is with an lock and one without. The app with the lock is located in your new work profile. if you will open this contact app no contacts are show.n That’s why shelter doesn’t have access to your private profile with all your contacts :slight_smile:
  4. add your really needed WhatsApp contacts in the shelter address book.
    – I have over 900 contacts in my address book. I have created a WhatsApp group and have assigned the WhatsApp user to this group. Than I have exported the WhatsApp group contacts in a vcf file. This vcf file I have transferred to shelter via file manger in shelter. There for you have to activate 'File Shuttle in the shelter settings. Now I was able to import these vcf file into my shelter address book. In shelter address book I have delete all contact information except name and phone number. And the real name I have changed to nicḱ name. So FB will get only small information from my address book :smiley:
  5. Clone Aurora store to your shelter work profile
  6. start shelter and open aurora
  7. install WhatsApp from ‘shelter aurora’
  8. Setup WhatsApp.
    – Now WhatsApp should should show only your contacts from shelter work profile :smiley:
    – if you have had WahatsApp used before, than you should push your WhatsApp backup via file manager to your shelter work profile BEFORE you start WhatsApp. So WhatsApp will find it and restore it.
    As far as I know, the backup/restore via gdrive isn’t working. But I don’t know for sure, because I don’t have an google account.

Some posts behind is a very good solution for using whatsapp without access to adress book. I have tried it under shelter with an empty adress book and it works very good.
Good luck

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone


Excellent bit of advice when using dodgy apps that want to send your information to dozens of sites like Facebook & co. I can confirm that Shelter works with certain sites like Booking.com, Checkmytrip and CityMapper - not all of them work though. You have to try your luck. I didn’t realise that the trick of installing Aurora store to your work profile enabled you to automatically install apps downloaded via its store in the work profile. This avoids having double installations, as Shelter offers a “cloning” feature which copies the cloned version to your work profile, so you end up with two copies which bothe appear in your list of apps in the Settings section. The cloned version has an orange circle with the symbol of a suitcase on it showing that it is linked to the work profile. If you do have two icons for the same app then it if the cloned version that you must run to have the protection that Shelter offers. I’m using Total Launcher to replace Bliss and have Shelter working correctly following @harvey186 advice.
This is a very useful Howto that should get a top lisitng under the [HOWTO] section for those who want to use popular apps from Playstore but avoid being tracked by all the various tracker sites. :+1:


There is one problem with point 5 that needs to be mentioned. You recommend to use Aurora Store, but unlike Yalp Store, it it cannot update itself (issues #77 and #123). Thus, if Aurora is placed inside the Shelter’s “container”, you will have to clone it each time if you want to keep it updated. In this particular case, I would prefer Yalp Store.

And one more remark. Shelter has poor compatibility with app firewalls like AFWall+, so you will have to accept some complications if you want to use both.

Thanks for hint, but I prefer aurora because yalp is out of support.
If your device is rooted you can also use the latest beta of aurora in your main profile and install apps direct into the work profile. That’s a new option in latest aurora version.
But than you have to keep in mind, that you always has to change to installation destination from work to main or main to work.

A few days ago, a fork of Yalp Store was released by another developer for further support.

I didn’t know about this, thank you! This is an interesting solution, and if we can enable it by default, it will solve the problem. (I hope that updating of the apps installed this way will also be available.)

Yes we can.;…:joy:

The new version of Aurora with ability to install apps straightly to the work profile is now available in F-Droid. I have experienced it, and this feature really works, but there is one condition: you have to activate the root installation method in Aurora’s settings.

Unfortunately, it is really not possible to update applications installed this way. (Aurora just can’t see them when they’re installed.)

When cloning aurora in shelter work profile the app update works same way as in main profile :wink:

Thanks for the tip! I really managed to achieve this, but after I decided to remove Aurora (both main and clone) to check if it could update its own clone in the work profile (yes, it could), for some reason I was no longer able to get Aurora to see the applications installed inside the work profile. Strange behavior…

Is it just contact info you wish to protect? you can send text messages with this one (no calls sadly)

Open in whatsapp is the name of a app for use with the normal whatsapp which enables the user to text without sharing the contacts.

Their descriptions reads as follows:

Open chat in WhatsApp without saving phone number to your phonebook

** This app uses WhatsApp public api ‘click to chat’ feature to open a chat with any number without saving to your phone book.**
** You can create an url link that will open WhatsApp on the specified number. This is a WhatsApp feature, you don’t need this app to open the link, only to create it.**

*available from the /e/ app store privacy rating 10 out of 10

Hope its useful info if looking to text message, Calls i`m guessing u still need shelter. perhaps this app can be adapted for calls? i think its opensource

interesting,about what app are you talking ? And are whatsapp user able to conatact me?

The name of the app is “open in whatspp” its on f-droid here:


or search the /e/app store for “Open In Whatsapp” the /e/ app store gives it 10/10 for privacy

the gitlab link is here https://github.com/subhamtyagi/openinwa

What it does:
when u launch it, it brings up dialog to enter the phone number or Pick from contacts , you wish to send text to, and then u can chat. found some screenshots online plz note those screenshots are from older version. i dont know how to take screenshots of my phone, but there is a button to choose contacts from the phones address book, which wont share your whole phone book with whatsapp

As you have a registered number with whatsapp etc its able to text with other registered users without it having access to your phone book, they should still be able to text you normally from their end.

I think you can make calls also, but not sure
The only issue you will have is that you wont know who`s texting/calling as whatsapp doesnt have access to your phone book to tell you. So all you will see is their telephone number. The person calling texting will have u saved to their contacts so they know it you, but you wont know its them, unless you recognize the number.
If you have 900 contacts this could be hard to identify the incoming text/call…

Screenshot from the version installed from the /e/ App Store


Thanks for the detailed info. I will try soon.

Regarding the screenshots. I think you are on e. So you can enable the enhanced shut down menu with reboot options AND screenshot. When you have enabled it you will have an screenshot icon in your shut down menu. Long press on it, you can make partial screen shots. short press the whole screen is copied.


OK, I have tried. And I like it. I will edit my first post with a link to your post.


That last screenshot i posted was from my phone, ( i came back to edit post when i figured it out)
To take screenshots with /e/os hold power and volume down together for 1-2 seconds. Got it!

Great glad that Open in whatsapp worked!! yay!!

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The is a better way for screen shot.

  1. Go to Developer Options and activate ‘advanced restart’

  2. Go to ‘Buttons’

  3. and than to ‘Power Menu’

    there you can enable ‘Screenshots’

If you will now press the power button you will see a little menu with ‘screenshot’ icon. short press on it a screenshot is captured. Long press on it you can select what an area for capturing


@harvey186 , I have a question for you.

EXACTLY what information does Shelter isolate? When I read about Shelter, I can never figure out what information if keeps away from applications.

For example, if I install a browser in Shelter, but not an email application, but if I click on a link in the browser in Shelter that is meant to start an email, will that fail because the email app is outside of Shelter?

Or, if I use a browser within Shelter but do NOT sign in to my google account on that browser within Shelter, but I DO sign in to my google account on a browser outside of Shelter, will Google associate my browsing on my browser inside of Shelter with my Google account?

If a cookie is loaded on my phone because of browsing I did in the browser within Shelter, will that cookie also track the browsing I do in a browser outside of Shelter?

The app description says this: “Run apps inside the isolated profile so they cannot access your data outside the profile”, but I don’t understand what information it is talking about.

It’s easy. Shelter is a ‘container’. All apps which are installed inside this container have no access to data outside the container.
If you have a picture insite shelter but no gallery app, you can’t open the picture.

Or other example. Yoy are in your bedroom (shelter) and you can see everything whats in your bedroom. But you can’t see what is in your dining room.

And this goes both ways. All.apps outside shelter do not have access to the files/data insite shelter. That means, the gallery app can’t see / open the picture from insite shelter.

I hope this will clarify. If not, let me know

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Thank you. A few followup questions, four main questions, I hope you can answer each one please:

If I install an app both inside and outside the shelter, how do I keep each one current? Do I need to install the app store both inside and outside the shelter as well?

IF I were to turn on location on my phone, all apps INSIDE the shelter would NEVER know my location, because, as you said, apps inside the shelter do not know any data that is outside the shelter. Is that correct?

If an app needs other, “helper” apps to work, then in the shelter I would need to install all those helper apps. Is that correct?

Finally, I am having a hard time envisioning the case in which a person would use Shelter. May I ask, what do you use it for? How does it help you? What are you doing with it?


If you have a store inside shelter comed, you only need whatsapp installing with this store.
otherwise you can install whatsapp in Main and clone it into shelter. Don’t start whatsapp in Main. After it is cloned you can delete the app in Main.

If you enable location access for your shelter apps, they will have access. If you go into ‘settings’ / apps’ you will see also your shelter apps, but they have an lock in the icon. There you can give or restrict access same way as in Main.


At first I use it to support others :slight_smile: And at second I use it for whatsapp, because there are 5 nice beauties which won’t swap to telegram :wink: