If you want to take your WhatsApp use to the next level, you should take advantage of its many features. Some of these are easy to find and others are well-hidden. Here’s a list of the best features — new and old — every WhatsApp user should know.
1. Disable Read Receipts
Uncheck the box for Read Receipts and you’ll stop sending them. Disabling this, however, also prevents you from seeing read receipts from other people. And you can’t turn off receipts for group chats.
2. Understand the Checkmarks and Check Read Times
- One gray checkmark means that your message was sent, but not delivered to the other party. WhatsApp is still working on sending it — perhaps your connection is spotty.
- Two gray checkmarks signify that your message was successfully delivered, but the other person hasn’t seen it yet.
- Two blue checkmarks appear when your friend has opened and viewed your message. In a group chat, you’ll only see these blue checks when everyone in the group has viewed the message.
For more information, you can tap one of your own messages and then press the Info icon in the top bar. This looks like a little i inside a circle and shows you exactly when your chat partner (or each member of a group chat) saw your message. This is handy for seeing how long it took them to see your message or confirming they saw it before a certain time.
3. Post Status Updates
Give it a second and WhatsApp will upload your status. It stays alive for 24 hours and keeps track of how many people viewed it. You can upload another before the original expires if you like. To see what other people you follow have come up with, check the Recent updates section of the Statustab.
4. Broadcast Messages to All
Picture this: you want to send a message to a lot of your friends, but you don’t want to add them all to a group message on WhatsApp. You could post on Facebook, but that comes with its own set of problems. The solution is using the Broadcast feature in WhatsApp. Tap Menu > New broadcast on Android, or Broadcast Lists on iOS.
5. Make Calls
WhatsApp might be a messenger first, but you can also make voice and video calls with it. Slide over to the Calls tab and use the button at the bottom of the screen to imitate a new call. You can select any contact you like — use the phone icon for a voice call and the camera icon for a video call.
6. Use WhatsApp on the Web
If you’re working at your desk and in the middle of a chat, you don’t have to constantly pick up your phone to reply. Using WhatsApp Web, you can keep up with your chats and type faster using your computer keyboard.
To use it, tap Menu > WhatsApp Web on Android or Settings > WhatsApp Web on iOS. Visit WhatsApp Web on your PC and scan the resulting QR code to link your accounts. Then you can chat to your heart’s content on the big screen. Serious chatters can download WhatsApp for their Windows or Mac desktop too.
7. Back Up Your Chats
Your past chats are likely important to you. Just like other important data on your phone, you don’t want to lose them, so backing up is vital. Thankfully, WhatsApp can do this for you so you never lose a message.
For iPhone users, go to Settings > Chat Settings and tap Chat Backup. Make sure Auto Backup is enabled (setting it to Daily is a good idea) or tap Back Up Now to create a new backup. Your WhatsApp data gets sent to iCloud for safekeeping.
On Android, head to Settings > Chats > Chat backup. Review the settings here to make sure you’re backing up regularly. You can change the automatic Back up to Google Drive to Daily, Weekly, or Monthly. Check Include videos if you want those to stay safe too. You can hit the Back Up button to run a backup right away too.
8. Star Messages
To do this, long-press on a message and tap the star icon that appears in the top bar. Later, when you want to recall a starred message, click the chat name above and then Starred Messages. This shows you everything you’ve starred, and you can click the arrow next to a message to see it in context if needed.
9. Send GIFs, Voice Messages, and More
Tap the Emoji button, then the GIF tab below it to access the vast library of GIFs that Tenor offers. Use the search icon to find the perfect GIF to react to your friend’s stupid comment and you can send it right from the app.
See the microphone icon to the right of the text box? Hold your finger on it to record a voice message, then let go when you’re done and it will send. If you change your mind, slide your finger to the left to cancel the message.
Tap the paper clip icon to add documents, audio, pictures, or a contact from your phone. You can also tap Location to share where you’re at with your contacts.
10. Customize Notifications
If you’re in a bunch of group chats, you probably don’t need to know immediately about every new message in all of them. Taking a few minutes to customize your notification can keep you sane.
Long-press a chat on the home screen and tap the microphone icon with a line through it to temporarily mute a chat. This lets you silence notifications (but still show them) for a time without leaving the chat.
Which WhatsApp Features Do You Love?
We’ve covered 10 important features anyone using WhatsApp should know, but that’s not where the fun ends. Android users can install other apps to make WhatsApp even better, and anyone can add services to WhatsApp to expand its functionality. The world’s most popular messaging app is always improving, and these tips ensure you get the best experience from it.
What do you love most about WhatsApp? What other hidden features should users know about? Share your best tips for using the app down in the comments, and be sure to share this with your WhatsApp-using friends!