You can't find many apps as easy and straightforward to use as WhatsApp. The messaging application has won the hearts of billions with its simple setup process: enter and verify your phone number, add a name, and you're already sharing instant messages with your contacts.
WhatsApp has enjoyed an incredible journey. We have seen feature after feature added to the app to make things smoother and add security, flexibility, and fun. That is why it is becoming more challenging to know every WhatsApp function at your disposal. But we're here to help with that. We've compiled a list of handy WhatsApp tricks that you probably don't know about.
Sure, some tips might look familiar and even obvious to you, but you'll find some tricks that you never thought existed.
Pin a chat on top of your chat list
Everyone has someone special whose messages they never want to miss. It could be your favorite family member, spouse, or business partner. Everyone knows how hard it is to go through numerous messages that pour in after leaving your phone for a while. You may accidentally skip some, and you don't want to miss that person's message. While you can scroll down to check for their message first, it's easier to pin their chat at the top so that it will always be the first thing you see.
Here is how to pin a chat:
For Android devices: Press and hold the chat and tap the pin icon at the top.
For iOS: Swipe the chat left to right, and then tap the Pin Chat option.
Set custom notifications
Still focusing on those special people, you can customize notifications to make sure you don't miss their messages or calls when ignoring your phone or other people. The Custom Notifications feature for individual chats allows you to change the message notification and ringtone for a specific contact.
To set a different notification tone and ringtone for a contact, open the corresponding chat, tap the contact's name, and click on Custom Notifications. Once you get to the Notifications page, tick the "Use custom notifications" checkbox to enable the feature. You can now choose a message notification tone, message vibration option, notification light color, call ringtone, and call vibration option for the contact.
Take advantage of biometric authentication
If you're big on privacy, WhatsApp is too. The company rolled out fingerprint authentication for Android users and Face ID and Touch ID for iOS users. You can now limit WhatsApp access to those who can open your phone using the Face ID, Touch ID, or fingerprint option. Note that you have to enable biometric authentication on your phone before you can use the feature. For example, the fingerprint option will not be available if you haven't added a fingerprint to your Android device. The same goes for iOS devices.
When you set up biometric authentication in WhatsApp, you're required to use your fingerprint or face to unlock the app and to set up WhatsApp Web. What it means is that you have an extra layer of security.
Here's how to set up Fingerprint Lock on Android devices:
- Open WhatsApp.
- Tap the three dots in the top-right corner of the screen and select Settings.
- Tap Account on the Settings page.
- Press Privacy.
- Now, scroll down and select Fingerprint Lock.
- Tap "Unlock with fingerprint" to enable the feature.
- Verify your identity by placing your finger on the fingerprint sensor.
- Choose when WhatsApp locks you out automatically. That's it!
Here are the instructions for iOS users:
- Launch WhatsApp and go to Settings.
- Tap Account once the Settings page opens.
- Next, tap Privacy.
- Open Screen Lock.
- Now, turn on Require Face ID or Require Touch ID.
- Select the length of time for WhatsApp to require Face ID or Touch ID.
Record your voice notes without holding the microphone icon
When the voice note feature was released, you had to press and hold the microphone button and release it when you were done with the voice message. This caused issues as people kept releasing the button accidentally before they finished their recording. It can also be stressful holding down the button for an extended period.
You can now lock the voice note function and record hands-free. This makes voice recording more effortless and more effective as you can complete your voice notes without worrying about releasing the button by mistake.
To use the "lock" function, press and hold the microphone button, then slide it up to the padlock icon. Click on the Send button once you're done. If you change your mind about the voice note, you can tap Cancel.
Reply to a specific message
When conversations heat up on WhatsApp, it's easy to get lost in the influx of messages. You could find it difficult letting your contact know which particular statement you're responding to, especially when they've said many things or asked many questions. And group chats are even worse.
Luckily, with the "Reply" function, you can directly respond to a particular message bubble. To reply to a message, press and hold it, then click on Reply. You can also swipe the message bubble to the right to respond to it. On WhatsApp Web or the WhatsApp desktop app, hover your mouse cursor over the message, click on the arrow, and select Reply.
Find your best chat buddy
Have you ever asked yourself who you spend the most time with on WhatsApp? The messaging application keeps a detailed record of how much data it uses. It also records how much data you use chatting with each contact. This covers data used on text, GIFs, documents, photos, videos, and other files.
Here's how to check how much data you have used per contact:
- Open WhatsApp and go to the Settings page.
- Select Storage and Data.
- Select Manage Storage.
You'll see different categories on the Manage Storage page. The first is the combined total of how much data you have used. The next are files that may have been forwarded many times and those that are larger than 5MB. But the most notable are your chats, where WhatsApp ranks your contacts according to how much data you've used on them. To be clear, contacts you share more media with will rank higher than those you mainly converse with via text.
Send files from your phone to your PC using WhatsApp
Sometimes, you find yourself in situations where you can't get hold of your USB cable and your Bluetooth device doesn’t seem to work. While there are other wireless transfer solutions, you can quickly transfer files using WhatsApp Web.
Firstly, send a file to a contact, then open WhatsApp Web. If you haven't set up WhatsApp Web, go to web.whatsapp.com, then click on the three dots on your phone's WhatsApp chat screen and select WhatsApp Web. Once your camera opens, scan the QR code on your system's browser. The same method applies to the WhatsApp desktop app.
After sending the file to your contact, open WhatsApp Web on your system and save it. If you're transferring a media file, such as a video or photo, you have to open it in the app and then click on the download icon to save it to your computer. Once you click on Download, a dialog window where you can choose the folder where you want to save the media file will pop up. To save a voice note, hover your mouse cursor over the voice note, click on the arrow, and then click on Download.
Tip: WhatsApp has lots of limitations when it comes to sharing media and files. For example, you can't share a photo or video larger than 16MB, and you can't share documents and other files larger than 100MB. However, you can send large files and folders using FileWhopper. The service allows you to send files and folders of any size to a recipient anywhere in the world for a small fee. You'll be charged based on the file size, and you're not required to commit to any subscription, like when using many other cloud storage services. The platform's security is world-class, and it uses technology that speeds up the transfer process.
Format your messages
You can change the format of a specific message before you send it. This feature comes in handy when you want to add emphasis to certain words or phrases in your messages. The formats include Bold, Italics, Strikethrough, and Monospace.
You can use the built-in menu, or you can make the changes by adding special symbols. This is how you manually change text formats:
Monospace: Insert three backticks on both ends of the text (```monospace```)
Strikethrough: Insert a tilde on both ends of the text (~strikethrough~)
Italics: Insert an underscore on both ends of the text (_italics_)
Bold: Insert an asterisk on both ends of the text (*bold*)
Note that it can be more than one word. Just make sure you insert the necessary characters on both sides of the phrase or sentence: for example, here is *how to make a sentence bold in WhatsApp*.
The text will change in the text box before you send it on WhatsApp for Android, iOS, or iPadOS. However, if you're on the desktop application or WhatsApp Web, you'll only see the applied format after sending the message.
To be honest, manually typing the characters can be stressful. For example, adding the monospace format involves digging into your smartphone keyboard's hidden corners to find the backtick symbol. You can easily select text formats in the mobile app without having to add the characters yourself. But if you're using WhatsApp Web or the desktop app, you have no option but to make good use of your keyboard (it shouldn't be as much of an issue as it is on smartphones).
Here's how to use the formatting options in the mobile application:
For Android devices: Double-click the word you want to format. If you're formatting a phrase or sentence, use the buttons on either side of the word to expand the selection. Next, tap the three dots, then select the format you want.
For iOS: Double-click the word you want to format. If you're formatting a phrase or sentence, use the buttons on either side of the word to expand the selection. Next, tap BIU, then select the format you want.
The character for the format you chose will appear on both sides of the text.
Realistically, the manual option is faster if you've mastered your keyboard layout. It means you don't have to go through the stress of selecting long lines of text and tapping and sliding different buttons. However, you have to memorize the special characters.
You can use multiple formats at once except for monospace. For example, you can add bold, italics, and strikethrough to a word or sentence. If you're typing it, make sure both sides of the text start and end with the same character, or you might end up sending a message with a bunch of characters.
Reply to a Group Chat Message Privately
You can't dispute the fact that things can get awkward in group chats, just like in physical get-togethers, and there are moments you'd love to pull someone aside for a chat or address certain observations privately. Well, you can do that on WhatsApp without having to go to your private chats or create a new chat with someone.
It's easy to reply to a group chat message privately, and the recipient will know exactly what you're addressing. Other members of the group won't see your message. It works like replying to a message in a private chat.
The process is simple:
If you use an iOS device, press and hold the group chat message that you want to reply to and tap More. Select Reply Privately in the context menu. You'll now be redirected to the private chat page, where you can type your message and send it.
If you use an Android smartphone, press and hold the message, tap the three dots in the top-right corner, and then select Reply Privately.
Archive your chats
The "Archive" chat feature is another way to hide your chats from prying eyes. It helps you remove any chat, whether private or group, from the main Chats screen. It doesn't delete your messages permanently, and you can unarchive an archived chat anytime you like. You should note that archiving a chat doesn't back it up to your SD card, and WhatsApp will automatically unarchive a group or individual chat once you get a message from it.
To archive a chat on an Android device, tap and hold the chat, then click on the archive button at the top of the screen. The archive icon is a downward-facing arrow inside a folder.
If you use an iOS device, swipe the chat to the left and tap Archive.
If you are using the desktop app or WhatsApp Web, hover your mouse cursor over the chat, click on the arrow in the chat, then select Archive Chat.
To archive all your chats, go to the Settings page and select Chats. Tap on Chat History, then select "Archive all chats."
Viewing archived chats is easy. You'll have to scroll to the bottom of your main Chats screen and click on Archived on an Android device. On an iPhone, scroll to the top of the Chats screen, pull down, and then click on Archived Chats. On WhatsApp Web and the desktop app, go to the top and click on the menu (the three dots), then click on Archived.
To unarchive a chat, open the Archived Chats menu. On your Android device, press and hold the chat you want to unarchive and click on the Unarchive button at the top of the app. The unarchive icon is an upward-facing arrow inside a folder. On your iOS device, swipe the chat to the left and tap Unarchive. On WhatsApp Web and the desktop app, hover your mouse cursor over the chat you want to unarchive, click on the arrow, then click on Unarchive Chat.
Hide group chat media from your gallery
It can be frustrating to see photos and videos you never asked for appearing in your gallery. WhatsApp group chats can do that to you. But you can avoid seeing unwanted media files by prompting WhatsApp to hide them from your gallery.
Open a group chat and click on its title at the top to open its About page. Next, click on Media Visibility. Once you see the "Show newly downloaded media from this chat in your phone's gallery?" pop-up, select No and click on OK.
Note that media files saved on your device before enabling the feature will still be visible in your gallery. You have to delete them yourself.
Hide individual chat media from your gallery
If you have an individual who sends you unsolicited photos and videos, you can also prevent WhatsApp from showing them in your gallery. Tap the chat, then tap the contact's name. Select Media Visibility, then choose No when the "Show newly downloaded media from this chat in your phone's gallery?" pop-up appears.
Prevent everyone from adding you to new groups
Raise your hands if you've been added to a group without notice. Most of us have suffered that frustration. Thankfully, you can now prevent that annoyance because WhatsApp allows you to restrict who can add you to group chats. You can choose only to join group chats that you want to participate in. It's easy to configure your group permission settings so that anyone who wants to invite you to a group has to send a group link that expires after a period.
To apply the changes, head to WhatsApp Settings, click on Account, and select Privacy. On the Privacy page, click on Groups. You can choose “Everyone”, “My Contacts”, or “My Contacts Except…”.
The “My Contacts” option means only contacts saved in your phone address book can add you to groups without your permission. "My Contacts Except…" allows you to restrict specific contacts from adding you to groups without your permission. You can click on the "Select all" icon in the top-right corner, next to the magnifying glass icon, to select all your contacts. This way, no one can add you to group chats without asking you first.
Take control of your group chat
WhatsApp gives you more options to maintain a level of decorum in your group chats. As an admin, you can place certain restrictions that limit what participants can do. It's now easy to
- prevent group participants from changing the group name and display picture,
- prevent participants from sending messages, and
- restrict forwarding the same messages too many times.
To access a group’s settings, click on the group’s title and select Group Settings.
Read messages without triggering the blue ticks (you can still leave read receipts on)
Turning off read receipts means you can't see when others read your messages or view your WhatsApp status. There's a cool trick that allows you to read messages without triggering the blue ticks even if the Read Receipts feature is still turned on.
Whenever a contact sends you a message and you receive a notification for that message, it registers as "Delivered," which means they see the double ticks. It remains that way until you open the message in WhatsApp. You can scroll down your phone's notification area and pull down the message to read everything. This way, you're reading the message without letting them know that.
On iOS, you can use the WhatsApp widget to read recent chats without opening WhatsApp and alerting your contacts that you have read their messages.
Enable disappearing messages
The Disappearing Messages feature helps you delete seven-day-old messages sent in an individual chat. The privacy feature enables you to get rid of the messages that you don't feel comfortable keeping.
There are few things you should know about the feature:
- You can't change how long WhatsApp waits before deleting your messages: they are deleted after seven days.
- Messages that exist before you turn on the feature will not be deleted.
- There's no way to turn on the Disappearing Messages feature for all your chats at the same time. It has to be turned on for each chat individually.
- Each participant in an individual chat can turn the feature on or off.
- A message will disappear even if you don't open WhatsApp in the seven-day period, but you'll see its preview in your notifications. The message will disappear once you open WhatsApp.
- If you use the Reply feature to respond to a disappearing message, you might still see the quoted message after seven days, even after the original message has disappeared.
- If you forward a disappearing message to another individual chat where Disappearing Messages isn't enabled, the forwarded message will not disappear.
- If you perform a backup before WhatsApp deletes a disappearing message, the backup will contain the disappearing message. When you restore the backup, the disappearing message will be deleted.
WhatsApp media is normally downloaded and saved to your device automatically. If auto-download is on, media sent to an individual chat will be deleted from the chat but not from your device. So, turn auto-download off if you don't want media staying on your phone after seven days. If you save media to your phone manually, remember to delete it after viewing.
Here's how to enable Disappearing Messages on your smartphone (Android and iOS):
- Open an individual chat.
- Go to the top and tap a contact's name.
- Select Disappearing Messages.
- Click on Continue if you see a prompt.
- Now, select On.
To turn off the feature, go back to the Disappearing Messages page and select Off.
Here's how to enable Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp Web and the WhatsApp desktop app:
- Click on an individual chat.
- Go to the chat screen on the right and click on a contact's name.
- Scroll down and click on Disappearing Messages.
- Scroll down and select Off.
To turn off the feature, go back to the Disappearing Messages page and select Off.
If you're in many group chats and have friends and family that would share everything under the sun with you, then you'll be spending a lot on data if WhatsApp is set to download media automatically. But it's not just about data; your device's storage could quickly get filled up if you don't filter what gets to be saved.
WhatsApp allows you to decide whether or not to automatically download images and videos sent to a group chat or an individual chat. Nevertheless, the messaging app's default setting is to download everything automatically. Turning off the auto-download function means you have to download an image or video yourself, which is fine for many of us.
Suppose you have enough storage space for WhatsApp photos and images but want to save yourself the cost of buying extra mobile data. In that case, you can prompt WhatsApp to auto-download media only when you're connected to Wi-Fi.
Here's how to manage the auto-download feature:
- On your main Chats screen, go to the top-right corner, tap the three dots, and select Settings.
- Tap Storage and Data once you get to the Settings page, then go to Media Auto-Download.
- Tap "When using mobile data" and use the checkboxes to select what media you'd like to download automatically with your mobile data.
- Tap "When connected to Wi-Fi" and use the checkboxes to select what media you'd like to download automatically when you're connected to a wireless network.
- Tap "When roaming" and use the checkboxes to select what media you'd like to download automatically whenever you're roaming.
Reduce call data consumption
When you make WhatsApp voice or video calls, you're using part of your data quota. High-definition video and audio calls can consume loads of data. However, WhatsApp can help you use less data; you just have to be willing to sacrifice call quality.
To lower call data consumption, head to WhatsApp Settings and tap Storage and Data. Now, toggle on the switch for "Use less data for calls."
You can check how much you consume for each call to determine if the call quality sacrifice is worth it or if you can afford high-quality WhatsApp calls. Swipe to your Calls tab and tap on a call. You'll see how much data was used for that call.
Mark a chat as unread
It's easy to forget to reply to messages after reading them when you're out and about. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you can mark a message as unread so that you can attend to it later.
For Android devices, press and hold a chat on the main Chats screen, then click on the three dots at the top of the page and select "Mark as unread."
For iOS, go to the Chats screen, swipe the chat to the right, and then select "Mark as unread."
Note that the dot will disappear whenever you open the message you marked.
Check the exact time your message was read
If you've been "blue-ticked" for too long, you can check when your message was read. While we understand that people can forget to reply after reading a message, it's pretty frustrating sitting back and waiting for a reply. Knowing the exact time the contact read your message can help you decide whether to send a reminder or move on.
If you use an iOS device, open the individual chat where the message you want to check is located and swipe the message to the left.
If you use an Android device, tap and hold the message in the individual chat, and then click on the "i" button at the top of the page to find out when the message was delivered and when it was read.
Add a chat shortcut
You don't always have to get to your main Chats screen before opening an individual chat. You can easily create a shortcut that leads you straight to a conversation once you click on it. This feature comes in handy if you want to keep in touch with one person without the distraction of other chats.
To add a shortcut, go to an individual chat, tap the three dots in the top-right corner, and select More. Now, choose the Add Shortcut option from the menu, then click on the Add option.
Back up your chats
You must have seen the occasional pop-ups that ask you to choose how often WhatsApp should back up your chats to Google Drive or iCloud. That particular function can save everything, including your media, to the cloud. WhatsApp also backs up your chats (mainly text and media records) to your phone once a day.
That said, you can make backups whenever you feel like it. If you use an Android device, it's easy to back up your chats to Google Drive, and you can easily back up your chats to iCloud if you use iOS.
To back up your chats, head to the Settings page and tap Chats. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on Chat Backup.
For Android devices, select Back Up. You can also set a backup frequency by tapping on "Back up to Google Drive" and selecting one of the following options:
- Only when I tap "Back up"
Click on Google Account to select the account you want to save the backup to. Click on "Back up over" to only back up when you're connected to Wi-Fi or back up when you're on any network. Turn on the "Back up video" switch to allow WhatsApp to save your videos to your Google Drive.
For iPhones, click on "Back up now." You can also tap Auto-Backup to select a backup frequency.
Note that you need to set up your Google account on your Android smartphone and install Play Services before using the Backup function on your Android device. If you use an iPhone, make sure you're signed in with your Apple ID and that iCloud is turned on.
Also, ensure you have enough storage on the account you want to back up to.
We're sure you’ve found some handy tips in this guide. And we are confident there will be more tricks as WhatsApp continues to add new features and improvements as time goes on.