By Ben Stegner
Facebook has over a billion users. It’s the second-most popular website in the world behind Google, and it pioneered the social media craze.
This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download How to Use Facebook now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.
But do you know how to use it?
Whether you’re baffled by all the changes or are just signing up for a Facebook account, we’ll show you everything you need to use Facebook.
Note: This guide covers using Facebook on the web. You can, of course, browse Facebook on mobile too. Many of these instructions apply to the smartphone apps, though certain elements appear in different places.
1. Facebook Basics and Getting Started
Let’s discuss some basics of what Facebook is and get you set up with your own account.
What Is Facebook?
Facebook is the most popular social networking site today. It allows you to connect with friends from all over the world and share text updates, photos, videos, and more. You control what you share with others, and can follow public interest accounts to get their updates too.
How Much Does Facebook Cost?
Facebook is free and will never charge you to use it. Any posts or notices you see about Facebook starting to cost money (or other tired hoaxes) are untrue.
How Do I Sign Up?
Select your gender, then choose Create Account.
Next, Facebook wants to help you find friends right away. From here, you can click your name at the top of the screen anytime to skip the Getting Started steps and jump right in.
Facebook then asks you to add your mobile number. If you don’t mind providing it, this is a good idea as you can use it to recover your account if you ever lose access. Enter your country code and phone number, then click Add Phone Number. Facebook will send you a text to confirm. Click Nextwhen done.
Finally, Facebook will bring you to a page with a few elements like finding friends, reviewing privacy settings, and adding a profile picture. You can complete these now, but we’ll cover them in this guide as well.
To confirm your account, open your email and find a message from Facebook. Click the Confirm Your Account button and you’re all set.
2. The Basics of Using Facebook
Now that you have an account, let’s go over the essentials like adding a profile picture, finding friends, and posting status updates.
Add a Profile Picture
Visit your profile page by clicking your name in the top bar. To the left of your name, mouse over the generic photo and select Update Profile Picture to set a good one. You can choose a picture you’ve already uploaded to Facebook, but as a new account, you won’t have any. Thus you should click Upload Photo and choose a picture of you from your PC.
Depending on the season, you might see some Frames that you can add to your picture. These include sports teams, holiday celebrations, and the like. If you use a frame, you can automatically switch back to your old profile picture after a time.
Add a Cover Photo
Facebook recommends a resolution of 851 x 315 pixels for your cover photo, but you can use other image sizes. If it doesn’t fit, you’ll have to drag it around to position it how you like.
Make Some Friends
Visit someone’s page, and click the Add Friend button to send them a friend request. They’ll have to accept it before you become friends. When they do, you’ll see a notification in the Friends tab on your notification bar.
Speaking of which, this tab also includes People You May Know, which will update as you add more friends. It’s a great place to find more people, especially if they don’t come to mind right away.
Flesh Out Your Profile
To add more info, visit your profile (click your name on the top bar) and click About. Then you can browse through the various tabs like Overview, Work and Education, and Family and Relationships. Mouse over anything you want to change and click Edit [Item] to change it.
For each item, you can set the audience you want to share it with. These are universal Facebook icons, and help you prevent providing too much info. For example, you might wish to share your birth date and month with your friends, but prevent anyone from seeing the year you were born so they don’t know how old you are. Select the icon dropdown next to the item you’re editing, and choose the right audience for that element.
Post a Status Update
The most basic status updates only include text — just type out what’s on your mind and click Post to share. For a bit more flair, you can use one of the weird patterns below the text box to place your post on a background. This only works for short posts, though.
That’s far from the only option that you have when posting a status, though. Check the below items for more ways to share:
- Photo/Video: Add one or more images or videos to your post.
- Check in: Tag your current location to share what you’re up to.
- Feeling/Activity: Describe what’s going on. First, choose a descriptor like Thinking about, Watching, or Playing. Then, complete the phrase, using your own words or one of Facebook’s preset phrases, such as Thinking about > Someone special, Watching > Wonder Woman, or Playing > Basketball.
- Tag Friends: Add friends’ names to your post to share that you’re with them. This will allow their friends to see the post, even if you aren’t friends with them.
- GIF: Type a search query to add the perfect GIF to your post.
- Sticker: Enjoy some modern-day clipart and add a cheesy sticker to your post.
- Ask for Recommendations: Ask your friends for the best businesses. We’ve covered all you need to know about this recommendation feature already.
- Poll: Ask a question, set possible answers, and specify how long you want the poll to last. Those who see the poll can vote and you’ll be able to see the results at the end. Note that polls can only have two answers, though.
- Support Nonprofit: Select a charity, and your friends can use the Donate button to support your chosen organization.
- Answer a Question: Get a random question like “If I could spend the day with any athlete, I would spend it with…” and add your answer.
- Tag Event: Add an event to your post to let others know you’re attending.
You can also use the Live Video to go live with your friends. This requires you to have a webcam connected to your PC.
Interacting With Friends’ Posts
As you scroll through your News Feed, you’ll see your friends’ recent posts. If you want to show your appreciation for something, click Like to give it a thumbs-up. Others will be able to see that you’ve done this.
Click Comment to add your thoughts to the post. If you want your friends to see a post, click the Share button and choose if you want to share it on your own timeline, in a message, or on a friend’s timeline.
Follow Public Pages
The best way to find some pages to like is by searching. Type the name of a website, band, company, or public figure you like into the search bar and see if they have an official page. If you see a blue check mark next to its name, that means Facebook has verified the page as legitimate.
Click Like to add the page to your list of likes, which will also follow the page. If you want, you can also click Follow without liking the page. From now on, you’ll see updates from that page just like you see status updates from friends.
Using Facebook Messenger
If you want to use Messenger full-screen, click See All in Messenger to open the full Messenger page. Click a contact on the left sidebar or use the search bar above your recent conversations to find a friend. On the right sidebar, you can change settings for the current chat, including notifications, colors, and nicknames.
3. Exploring Facebook’s Major Features
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can get into some of Facebook’s other offerings. We’ll sample some of the most useful functions here, but there are many more that are less prominent. You’ll find links to all these along the left side of your homepage. Many are under the Exploreheader.
Visit the Groups home to see the groups you’re in or create a new one. In a group, use the tabs on the left to see its members, view basic information about it, or check out recent posts.
If you create a group, you’ll need to specify a name and add some people to it. Use the arrows along the top to get a group suggestion, such as [Workplace] Friends or Family Group.
You’ll also need to set the group’s privacy. Three options exist for this:
- Public Group: Anyone can view the group, who’s in it, and the posts in the group.
- Closed Group: Anyone can see the group and who’s in it, but only members can see posts.
- Secret Group: Only members can find the group (it won’t appear in searches) and see posts.
Facebook has led the mobile gaming revolution, hosting hundreds of free and freemium games for you to enjoy. Visit the Games page to check some of them out. You’ll find casual favorites like Candy Crush Saga, Trivia Crack, and Words With Friends, along with plenty others.
One of Facebook’s recent additions, the Marketplace allows you to buy and sell goods with other users. Jump over to it and you’ll see the latest offers in your area. You can use the top tabs to change how far away it searches, filter by category or price, or show only free items.
Click a post to see pictures and other details that the seller has provided, and message them if desired. You can also save the post if you want to come back later.
If you’ve got something you’d like to offload, click the Sell Something button at the top. Choose whether it’s a car or any other item, then add some basic information about the item including a category, price, and photos. When someone is interested, they can use the contact button to send you a message on Facebook.
Facebook Events let you create and browse goings-on near you. The main page shows suggested events you might have interest in, along with those that friends have invited you to.
Select an event to see its location, date and time, and any updates from the organizer. Choose Going, Maybe, or Can’t Go to RSVP for events you’ve been invited to. For a public event, you can click the Interested button to subscribe to updates without committing.
Events are a great way to let Facebook friends know about a party or get-together without sending out physical invitations.
4. Facebook Tips and Tricks
We now move to some tips for getting the most out of your time on Facebook.
Searching is one of the most important utilities you have on Facebook. If you can’t find something, just enter it into the search bar and see what comes up.
Control Your Privacy
Facebook privacy is a massive discussion, and there are tons of settings you can use to fine-tune what you share. Luckily, our complete guide to Facebook privacy can show you everything you need to know.
Stay Secure and Tweak Settings
Know What to Do in Case of Hacking
One of the most common issues among Facebook users is losing access to their accounts. Thus, it’s vital that you know how to check if someone else is using your Facebook account. If you do find out that someone broke into your account, you need to act immediately and follow the steps to recover your account.
Install Better Mobile Facebook Apps
Unlike Twitter, there really aren’t any great apps for using Facebook on Windows, Mac, or Linux. You’re best off just visiting Facebook in your browser of choice.
For Android users, we like Swipe for Facebook. This enhanced version of Facebook’s mobile page regularly receives updates, features cool themes, and even has support for notifications. If you’re on iOS, Friendly for Facebook is a good third-party alternative.
Ready to Enjoy Facebook?
This isn’t an exhaustive guide to Facebook’s features, but it covers what you should know to make the most of your experience. Don’t get overwhelmed. Facebook regularly adds and removes features, and some part of “getting it” comes from using Facebook over time. But these basics should keep you covered for a long time to come.
Did this answer your questions about how Facebook works? What other elements of Facebook are you unsure about? Leave a comment to let us know, and be sure to share this guide so others can learn too!