Time was, sending messages through Facebook was a clunky add-on to your favourite social media service.
Now, though, it’s grown into a fully fledged, standalone beast of communications, complete with a slew of cool features – many of which are hidden away in settings menus.
So, to keep you abreast of the best developments – and to ensure your chat game is on point – here are 21 Facebook Messenger tips and tricks that you might not know about.
USE MESSENGER WITHOUT A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT
Some people prefer to steer clear of signing up for a full Facebook account – but that doesn’t mean they need to miss out on the Messenger fun.
At the login screen, simply hit the button to say you don’t have an account and you’ll be able to register using only your phone number. If you’ve associated this with an account before it’ll try and get you to sign in with that – but if you’re trying to go cold turkey on Facey-B, you can still make a new chat-only login using this number.
Once you’re online, you’ll still be able to choose a picture and start chats with people you know, many of whom are easily found from your phone’s contacts library.
ACCESS MESSENGER ANYWHERE WITH THE WEB VERSION
Away from your phone or trying to stay under the radar? Fear not: Facebook has a full, standalone web-based Messenger service.
Head to the website, sign in and – hey presto! – you’ve a phone-like Messenger interface right there on your PC, without having full Facebook open to distract you with its cheeky memes.
PLAY INSTANT GAMES
If the chat has dried up it might be time to get some fun going – and that’s now easier than ever thanks to Messenger’s in-built games.
Hit the little plus symbol when you’re in a conversation and then tap the ‘games’ icon. From here you’ll be able to fire up a whole host of time-wasters – from Snake and PAC-MAN to Solitaire and Tomb Runner – without leaving the app. It even works in group chats, too, if you want to get properly competitive.
There are apps built into Messenger, too – easily accessed by hitting the plus symbol and scrolling along. You can plan holidays with Kayak, book restaurants with OpenTable and even make a joint shopping list – all within Messenger.
MAKE GROUP PLANS
Pinning your pals down to concrete plans can be a real pain in the proverbials. Thankfully, Messenger has a solution that means you won’t even need to fire up your calendar app.
In a conversation, tap the name at the top then hit ‘create plan’. This will let you schedule in a time, activity and location – and will send a timely reminder to all involved, so they’ll feel even more terrible for running late (or ditching entirely).
ASSIGN NICKNAMES TO YOUR PALS
Fun! Banter! Chat! Friendly ribbing is what makes having friends so great. At least, that’s what we’ve heard. What better way to celebrate your shared humour, then, than by assigning witty nicknames.
Hit the name at the top of a chat window, then tap ‘nicknames’. From here, you’ll be able to set labels for everyone in that group (that will appear only in that specific conversation), for all to enjoy. Be warned, though: nicknames can be added and edited by everyone in the chat – so if you bring the wit, prepare to be out-witted.
SHARE YOUR LOCATION
If you’re going to a rough part of town – or just want to prove to your other half that you really aren’t going to the pub – you can share your live location in a conversation for 60 minutes, so that someone special can track your every move.
In a conversation, hit plus symbol, then tap ‘location’ and hit ‘Share Live Location’. You’ll probably need to grant Messenger constant access to your location to do so, which you might want to turn off again later.
Soon it won’t just be mates tracking you: Facebook’s M assistant is being gradually rolled out, and it introduces AI smarts to your everyday chat.
If you send a message it’ll figure out what you might like – from breakfast orders to an Uber – and try to help. It can’t access other apps like Siri, but it works with certain providers (backed up by a dedicated staff team) to deal with your requests. It’s still in beta at the moment, but it’s unquestionably the future of informal ordering.
Great as group chats are, there always comes a point when the barrage of banality gets too much. You don’t have to cut all ties and leave the group, though.
Simply hit the name of the conversation at the top, and tap ‘notifications’. Toggle ‘message notifications’ to off and you’ll be offered the option to turn them off for good – or for set periods, including 15 minutes, an hour and 24 hours.
Find filtered messages
Much like your email inbox, Messenger has a spam filter of sorts: messages that don’t from your contacts – or that Facebook thinks look a bit dodgy – get filtered into an ‘other’ inbox. This used to be hidden away, but now it’s relatively easy to find.
Hit the ‘people’ tab at the bottom of the Messenger app then tap ‘Message Requests’. This will show up any messages you’ve received from random admirers – and, often, legitimate messages that have got caught in the system.
Customise chat colours
Time was, Messenger was blue through and through. Nowadays, it’s a multicolour affair, with the option to pick a colour for every conversation.
Hit the conversation name to head into settings, then tap ‘colour’. You’ll be able to pick from a range of shades to suit your chat, which will be seen by both parties across message bubbles and icons – perfect for sending subtle hints, whether passive aggressive or flirtatious.
Why stop at colours? While you’re in the conversation settings, you can assign an emoji to your chat, too.
This will change the default thumbs-up ‘like’ button beside the text bar to the emoji you’ve picked, for on-tap love hearts or fist-bumps.
If you want the most efficient way of managing your communications and having all of your acquaintances in Messenger, turning on ‘Sync Contacts’ is probably the way to go. It can be particularly useful for finding people who aren’t on Facebook (or aren’t your friend) but use Messenger with their phone number.
Hit the icon with your profile picture, then tap ‘people’. Toggle ‘Sync Contacts’ to on and Messenger will continuously scan your contacts list for new numbers and people to message.
Edit photos within Messenger
Long ago, editing a photo meant flicking it across to your PC and carefully adjusting the levels in Photoshop. Nowadays it’s all scribbles and filters – and Messenger lets you do it all from right within your chat.
Open up an image that’s been sent in a chat (either by you or someone else) and, in the top right corner, you’ll see three little symbols. Hit these and you’ll be able to scribble all over the picture, type word overlays and stick emojis on it – before sending it back to the chat from whence it came. Easy.
Find more sticker packs
Love them or hate them, Messenger stickers are here to stay. If you’re a serial sticker-er, though, your range of bright icons can soon run low. Thankfully, there are plenty available to add to your arsenal.
Tap on the smiley icon beside the text box and, under the ‘Stickers’ tab hit the plus button at the bottom. From here, you’ll be able to peruse and download a host of bew graphics from the Sticker Store – ideal for finding new ways to annoy your friends.
Kick people out
Facebook doesn’t always get the best rep’ for looking after people’s privacy – but it’s certainly committed to democracy: anyone in a group chat can kick anyone else out.
When you’re in a group thread, tap the name of the group at the top and scroll down to the list of members. Hit any member’s name and you’ll see an option to ‘Remove from Group’ – even if they created it. A perfect comeuppance for dictatorial chat-masters.
Can’t decide who to kick out? It might be time to conduct a poll. A relatively recent addition to Messenger, to create a multiple choice question in a chat simply hit the plus button and select the ‘polls’ symbol.
From here, the app will offer you the option to create a poll with dates and times as answers (perfect for organising an event or get-together) or to create custom options, such as “What should we have for dinner tonight?” – which your group mates can answer by hitting ‘vote’.
Share music via Spotify
The mix-tape might be dead, but that doesn’t mean you should stop sharing music with your mates. If you log in to Spotify using Facebook, you’ll find a Spotify app in messenger by hitting the plus symbol in a conversation.
Tap it and you’ll be offered your most recent songs, as well as a search tool to find just the song. Select one and it’ll send a listenable Spotify link to the group, without leaving the app.
Request an Uber
A telling sign of the singular future of apps, it’s now possible to order Ubers directly through the Messenger app – provided you’re in the US.
Simply hit the three dots by your text box when you’re in a conversation, tap ‘transportation’ and either sign in or set up a new Uber account. Messenger will even let you tap an address mentioned in the conversation to order a cab directly, and will serve up notifications through Messenger.
Send money to your mates
This one’s US-only, unfortunately, but should hopefully roll-out further afield soon – and, when it does, you’ll be able to send and request cash to and from your Facebook Messenger contacts, including groups (so no more waiting endlessly for pint money).
It’s as easy as hitting the ‘$’ symbol in the chat window and keying in the amount. Tap ‘pay’, add your card and it’ll be pinged over – absolutely free. You’ll need to add a card to receive cash, too, but it’s all secured and protected by pin.
Encrypt your chat
Want to make sure the government isn’t spying on your meme game? Like WhatsApp, Messenger provides the option to encypt your chat. It’s not enabled by default, though, because it disables several chat options, including multi-device usage.
To make your conversation seriously safe, hit the name of your chat buddy at the top of the screen and scroll down to ‘secret conversation’. Tap ‘OK’ and your conversation will become encrypted end-to-end – and you’ll even be able to set time limits so that messages disappear after a certain time. Very Mission Impossible.
Change your number
Changed your mobile number, want to use a different one or simply want to disassociate your digits from your Facebook account? Hit your profile icon in the corner, tap ‘phone’ and you’ll be able to switch out your numbers from there.
Keeping your number current means friends should find it easier to connect with you – and you can opt to get text updates, too.
Make free calls over Wi-Fi
Much like FaceTime or Google Hangouts, Messenger has in-built video and voice calling functionality. When you’re connected to Wi-Fi, this means free Messenger-to-Messenger calling – regardless of whether your chat pal uses iOS or Android.
Simply hit the ‘calls’ tab at the bottom and you’ll be able give your friends a bell. There’s even the option to start a group call, by hitting the little icon with three people next to ‘new call’.
One thing to be aware of, though, is that Messenger will switch to mobile data if Wi-Fi drops out – which could cost you.
If calls aren’t your thing, you can leave short voice messages for your mates instead. Simply tap the plus symbol while you’re chatting, select ‘voice’ and hit the big red ‘record’ button.
Share profile codes
Met someone new and want to exchange deets? You could do the old ‘search and add’ routine through Facebook – or you could fire up Messenger, hit your profile icon in the corner then hit your picture again.
That’ll serve up a unique code, Snapchat style, that your new friend can scan with their smartphone to add you in a jiffy. Hit ‘scan code’ at the top and you can do the reverse, without even having to ask their name.