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21 essential WhatsApp tricks and tips you should know

From managing storage to sharing files between your phone and PC, we've got plenty of tips for you.
September 16, 2019
The WhatsApp logo - whatsapp tricks

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular instant messaging app, and for good reason — it gets a steady stream of updates, has a long list of features, and supports a wide range of devices. There’s little wonder why it’s hit the billion user mark. Want to get the most out of the platform? We’ve got a few essential WhatsApp tricks you should use.

How to create bold, italicized, or strikethrough text

The various WhatsApp text formatting options - whatsapp tricks

It’s been around for a while now, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know about this neat WhatsApp trick.

Simply put an asterisk (*) at the beginning and end of the desired word or sentence and you can make it bold. So if you’d like to bold the word biscuit, you’ll need to type *biscuit*. The same goes for italics, only with an underscore (_) on either side of the desired text instead. To strike through text, you’ll need to add a tilde (~) to the beginning and end of the desired passage. There’s also an option to create monospace text, by adding three grave accents (`) to either side of the text.

Want an easier way to do all this? Then highlight the word or passage in question, tap more and choose from bold, italicize, strikethrough, or monospace. This doesn’t work on all devices though, so you might have to do the long way.

Quote a message in your response

An example of quotes in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

Whether your texting pace is just too fast or a group chat constantly sees new messages, quoting is one of the best WhatsApp tricks to manage context.

To quote someone, just swipe right on the desired message and it will appear at the top of the text field. This will attach your response to the quoted text (or picture) for all to see. You can hold down on a message and tap the arrow icon on the left to do the same thing.

Stop auto-downloading via mobile data

Mobile data settings for WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

One of our favorite WhatsApp tricks can actually help you save some precious mobile data.

There are a few ways to save data in WhatsApp while still receiving notifications and messages. First, disable the app’s ability to download media on mobile data. This is done via Settings > Data and storage usage > When using mobile data.

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WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 4

From this section, you can check or uncheck the downloading of photos, audio, videos and documents via mobile data. This way, you need to tap on the file to actually download it. Videos, in particular, are huge data hogs, so we’d recommend leaving this unchecked.

WhatsApp calls chewing data? Try this

Data settings in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

WhatsApp calls are a handy feature on the platform, but they can consume a fair bit of mobile data if you’re a heavy user or on a limited plan.  Thankfully we know of more WhatsApp tricks for improving data consumption. If you’d like to save some bandwidth, try visiting Settings > Data and storage usage > Low data usage and tick the box to lower the amount of data used in a call.

Get a breakdown of WhatsApp data usage

WhatsApp's data tracking tool - whatsapp tricks

All Android phones from the last five years or so ship with a data usage tracker, allowing you to get an app-by-app breakdown of data usage. But WhatsApp also has a tracker, giving you a category-by-category look at data usage.

To access WhatsApp’s data usage log, you’ll need to visit Settings > Data and storage usage > Network usage. Here, you’ll find data usage related to Google Drive, roaming, WhatsApp calls, status updates, messages and overall usage. The biggest downside is that there doesn’t seem to be a Wi-Fi versus cellular breakdown — it all gets lumped in the same category.

View a breakdown of storage by contact…

The storage breakdown section in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

The storage usage functionality (Settings > Data and storage usage > Storage usage) can show some impressive stats.

This feature allows you to view a ranking of storage used by contact. This is ranked by which contact or group uses the most storage on your phone. Simply tap on a contact/group and you’ll see a breakdown of messages, photos, GIFs, videos, and more.

Then clear those files from your storage

A storage management option in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

You can do more than just look at the contacts who hog all the storage. You can choose to wipe these files from your phone if you want to.

All you need to do is visit the storage usage section once again (Settings > Data and storage > Storage usage). From here, you choose a contact or group and tap Free Up Space. You can then choose the categories in need of a cleanup within that contact/group. So if your friends group has 50MB of video clips, simply keep the Videos category ticked while unticking everything else. You’ll then want to hit the Delete Items button and choose whether starred messages are included in the wipe.

Request your account info

whatsapp tricks

Much like Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp allows you to request a ZIP file of your account information and settings. This doesn’t include your messages though, only collecting your profile photo and whether you agreed to that Facebook data policy, group names, and the like.

To do this, you’ll need to visit Settings > Account > Request account info, then tap Request report. It takes between two and three days to get the report. However, the request will be cancelled if you choose to delete or re-register your account, or change your number or device.

You can’t view this file in WhatsApp though, so try using another program on your phone or PC instead.

Email chat logs to yourself (or someone else)

The chat history options in WhatsApp. whatsapp tricks

WhatsApp already lets you back up your chat history to the cloud, but what if you’d like to send a specific chat log to someone, or maybe just need receipts? You can always email the chat log via WhatsApp.

To do this, you’ll need to visit Settings > Chats > Chat history, then tap “Export chat.” From here, your chat menu will pop up, allowing you to choose a specific contact or group’s chat history.

Once you’ve chosen the desired chat, WhatsApp will ask whether you’d like to include media or only send text and emojis. Choosing the latter option is advised if you want to keep the final file size in check. Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll be able to select how you want to send the file. If you select Email, the chat log (in lightweight .txt format) will be automatically attached in a new draft message.

Activate two-step verification

The two-step verification screen in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

By default, WhatsApp asks for your number and a one-time pin when changing devices. However, enabling two-step verification means dodgy types can’t get away with accessing your account on a new phone, even if they have your SIM card.

To enable this, you have to visit Settings > Account > Two-step verification. From here, you’ll be prompted to create a six digit pin for whenever you add WhatsApp to a new phone. You’ll also add your email address, in the event you forget your PIN.

One rather massive oversight is that you don’t need to enter a PIN when trying to disable two-step verification from the original device. Odd.

Add a contact to your home screen

Adding a contact to the homescreen - whatsapp tricks

WhatsApp also lets you add contacts to your home screen — ideal for significant others and other frequently contacted people.

To add a chat to your phone’s home screen, open the contact or group in question, then tap the three dot menu in the top right corner. From here, visit More > Add shortcut. You then simply tap Add automatically or hold the icon to place it on your home screen.

Disable read receipts

whatsapp tricks

Ah, the infamous blue tick icon. For the uninitiated, this simply means that a message has been seen. If you prefer to dodge your contacts, you can disable read receipts (ergo the blue ticks) by visiting Settings > Account > Privacy and unticking the box labelled Read receipts.

Remember this works both ways, so your contacts won’t see when you’ve read their messages and you can’t see when they’ve read your messages.

See who read your group message

A menu in WhatsApp, showing who's read your message - whatsapp tricks

One of WhatsApp’s niftier tricks is the ability to see who read your group text. All you need to do is hold on your message to highlight it, then tap the i icon or three dot menu then Info. From here, you’ll see who has and hasn’t viewed your dad joke, as well as when it was delivered to their device.

It’s worth noting that someone may not appear on the list if they’ve disabled read receipts as above, or if they’ve blocked you.

Turn off the “last seen” feature

Privacy options for WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

Have a stalker? You might want to tweak the Last seen function, which shows the last time you’ve appeared online.

To do this, you’ll need to visit Settings > Account > Privacy. You then want to tap the Last seen field and adjust it accordingly. This can be adjusted to Everyone (everyone with your number can see when you’ve last appeared online), My contacts or Nobody.

Bonus tip:  There are a few more WhatsApp tricks in the Privacy section to fight stalkers and general creeps, such as Profile photo adjustments and the About field. Both of these sections can be tweaked so they are viewable by everyone, only your contacts, or no-one at all.

View your list of blocked contacts

The list of blocked contacts in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

It’s your WhatsApp account, so feel free to ban whoever you want. But if you’re keen on seeing a full list of who you’ve blocked, visit Settings > Account > Privacy. You’ll then need to scroll down to the Messaging section and tap Blocked Contacts.

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WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 5

You can also add contacts to the block list by tapping the icon in the top-right corner. It’ll take you to your Contacts page, where you can wield the ban hammer.

How to use live location tracking

The location sharing screen in WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

Sending a location pin is pretty simple in WhatsApp, as you tap the paperclip icon in the message field and choose Location. But what if you want your partner or parents to track your movement in real-time? Fortunately, this is indeed a thing, being one of the best WhatsApp tricks for parents and people with helicopter parents.

You can do this by tapping the paperclip icon. From there, tap Location > Share Live location, and specify a period of time to be tracked, ranging from 15 minutes to eight hours. Don’t worry, you can manually end location tracking at any time.

Create a custom notification for a contact

WhatsApp custom notifications - whatsapp tricks

The average WhatsApp user has loads of contacts, so it’s understandable if you feel a little overwhelmed by message alerts. Fortunately, there’s at least one way to sort the wheat from the chaff, in the form of custom notifications.

To create a custom notification, you’ll need to enter a chat with the desired contact. From here you have to tap their name at the top of the chat window and choose Custom notifications.

Once you’ve entered this menu, you’ll want to tick the box labelled Use custom notifications and scroll down to the next field to customize the alert. Customization options include changing the message tone, and tweaking the LED notification color for the contact.

Mute contacts or groups

Mute options for WhatsApp - whatsapp tricks

You probably have a group that constantly devolves into a constant stream of memes and viral videos. You could create a custom notification like in the previous tip, or you could just mute the group or contact.

To mute the contact or group in question, tap and hold on them in the Chats menu. From here, you should see several icons in the top-right corner. Tap the mute icon (it’s a speaker with a line through it). You can then specify a mute period (eight hours, a week, a year), choose whether you’ll still receive notifications, and tap OK.

Use WhatsApp on your PC

The login screen for WhatsApp Web - whatsapp tricks

If you prefer a full-size keyboard or just like the convenience of the big screen, WhatsApp Web is one of the best features for you.

To get things started, visit on your computer. The website will display a QR code, which can read on the WhatsApp mobile app. On your phone, tap the three dot menu in the top right corner, then select WhatsApp Web to launch the QR code reader. Now, scan the website’s QR code via your phone’s QR code reader and that’s it.

The biggest downside to WhatsApp Web is that it’s completely tethered to your phone. Both devices need to be on the same network, so you can’t access it via your PC at work if you left your phone at home. Nevertheless, it’s better than nothing.

Save things from your phone to computer (and vice-versa)

Sharing in WhatsApp Web - whatsapp tricks

WhatsApp Web might not be as flexible as I’d like, but one of the cooler WhatsApp tricks is the ability to share stuff between your phone and PC.

If you’ve got two WhatsApp accounts, you can send the stuff from the second account to the one currently active on PC. Have a friend that doesn’t mind being the go-between? Then you can simply send files to them, hop on WhatsApp Web and click on their account to view/download the file.

The inverse is true as well — you can send stuff from your PC (via WhatsApp Web) to your other WhatsApp account or long-suffering friend.

Update: Twitter user Moshe Fasten has hit us up with a much easier way to share files across PC and mobile. All you have to do is create a group with one of your contacts, remove said contact, and the group remains. This way, you have a private hub for sharing stuff.

Sign up for beta access

The beta section on the WhatsApp Play Store listing - whatsapp tricks

To get new features first, you’ll need to join the beta program. This also means you run the risk of encountering bugs and other flaws, so do keep that in mind.

To sign up for beta access, visit the WhatsApp page on the Google Play Store and scroll down to the Become a beta tester section at the bottom. Tap the I’m in button and you will then be enrolled in the beta program. Updating to the beta version works just like a regular Play Store app update, as you simply tap the “update” button to get the bleeding-edge version of the app.

If you’d like to leave the beta, you can do so at any time by tapping the Leave button that replaces “I’m in,” as seen in the above image.

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