WhatsApp boasts more than 2 billion users worldwide, but if you don’t live in one of the countries where it’s popular you may have never used it. Its nearly $20 billion purchase by Facebook turned some heads in 2014, but it still offers a number of advantages over its competitors.
If you’re new to the party, the world’s most popular chat app can be a bit overwhelming. To help you get started, we put together this beginner’s guide to how to use WhatsApp, from installing the app to chatting with friends and family in groups. Let’s get started!
What is WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is a free chat app that launched at the dawn of the smartphone era back in 2009. It wasn’t until 2015 that it became the most popular option worldwide, but nowadays it’s virtually ubiquitous in most of Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
The popularity of Whatsapp is due to the fact that it’s free, it doesn’t have ads, and of course, it has a huge user base. It also features end-to-end encryption, so you can be sure that your messages are private and secure. In addition to one-on-one and group chats, you can also do voice or video calls free of charge.
How to install WhatsApp
The first step in learning how to use WhatsApp is installing the app, and it can be finished in just a few minutes. As mentioned above, the app is completely free and only requires a phone number to sign up.
How to install WhatsApp
- Install the app from the Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhones).
- Launch the app and approve the requested permissions.
- Enter your phone number and tap Confirm.
- Enter the verification code received via SMS (WhatsApp may do this automatically).
- Import existing contacts into the app (optional).
That’s all there is to it! You’re now ready to start chatting with any of your contacts that have WhatsApp installed. You can also manually add contacts to WhatsApp if you don’t want to import your entire contact list.
How to set up your WhatsApp profile
Before you start chatting, there is one more step you may want to take. Creating a profile will help your contacts know who you are, even if they don’t have your number saved in their contacts. You can add a picture, name, and a short bio.
How to set up your Whatsapp profile
- Tap the three dots in the top right of the app and tap Settings.
- Tap your name at the top of the screen.
- To change your picture, tap the camera icon and select a photo.
- To change your name, tap the pencil icon next to Name.
- To change your bio, tap the pencil icon next to About.
You can also change your phone number from this screen, and the process is the same as when you first set up your account. It will send a verification code via SMS, and once confirmed all of your chats and contacts will be transferred to that number.
How to start a chat
Now that your profile is set, it’s time to get to the task at hand: chatting! The first time you open the app you won’t have any chats open, but you can start a new chat by tapping on the chat bubble in the bottom right.
From there, simply select the contact you want to chat with from the list. If you already have a previous chat with that contact, it will open that instead of a brand new chat. All that’s left now is to type your message at the bottom of the screen. After entering your text, tap the arrow icon that appears alongside the text box to send it.
You can also send pictures or files on WhatsApp by tapping the paperclip or camera icons at the bottom of the screen. To start a voice call or video call, tap the video camera or telephone icons at the top right of the screen. Both use data, and there’s no extra charge for international calls.
To start a group chat, tap the same chat bubble as before, then tap New Group. You can then select the members you want to invite, enter a name, and start chatting!
There are all kinds of additional features available, so be sure to check out our list of WhatsApp tips and tricks for more info.
How to use WhatsApp Web
If you are the type of person that prefers typing on a keyboard (or just don’t like looking at your phone all day), you can also use WhatsApp from your web browser. You’ll need to keep your phone nearby, but it can be a very convenient way to chat or send files from your PC or Mac.
How to use WhatsApp Web
- On your computer browser, navigate to web.whatsapp.com.
- Open WhatsApp on your phone, tap the three dots in the top right, then WhatsApp Web.
- Tap the plus icon at the top right.
- Point your phone camera at the QR code on your computer screen.
- WhatsApp should instantly log in on your computer.
If you don’t want to use a browser, you can also install the WhatsApp Web app directly on your computer. If you think someone is using WhatsApp Web without your permission, you can remove access from your phone by following the first two steps above.
That’s it for our beginner’s guide to how to use WhatsApp! Hopefully you can now connect with your friends and family, no matter where they are in the world!