WhatsApp is the world's most widely used messaging app, with over 1.5 billion registered users. The app, now owned by Facebook along with Instagram and Messenger, has evolved over time, coming to offer many innovative features, from video calling to sharing files and documents in various formats. Here's a complete guide to using WhatsApp, from installing the app on your smartphone to the latest news in 2019.
How to install WhatsApp
The first step to take, to use the messaging platform on your device, is to download and install WhatsApp. The app is available for free on Google Play Store, App Store and Windows Store, depending on the device in use between Android, iOS and Windows Phone. To install WhatsApp on Android just go to Google Play Store, download the app and run the automatic installation. WhatsApp supports almost all versions of Android, from 3.1 onwards.
To install WhatsApp on iPhone iOS you need to go to the App Store, select the app in Apple's virtual store, click on Get and then click on Install. Instead, to put WhatsApp on Windows Phone you need to access Microsoft's online store, use the magnifying glass to locate the messaging app, perform the download on your device and finalize the installation of the app. The only limitation is the presence of a version higher than Windows Phone 7.1, since previous versions are no longer supported.
WhatsApp can also be installed on tablets and PCs, however, this is not strictly necessary, since as we will see later to use the app just connect to the website.whatsapp.com, taking advantage of the link with the mobile version, synchronizing data and all files contained in the groups. After installation you need to proceed with the activation of WhatsApp, creating a personal account.
To do this just open the application, accept the terms of service and authorize the processing of personal data, enter your phone number and verify it, confirming it through the code sent by WhatsApp. After that you can customize your profile, setting the language, the country of residence, choosing a photo for the account visible to your contacts and a phrase to go with the profile. Once you've finished activating WhatsApp, which since 2016 is completely free with no subscription fees, you can start using the app by inviting your contacts.
How WhatsApp Works
WhatsApp is an application that allows you to send messages, documents, photos, voice and video notes to your friends and family, but also create private and public groups, video call and phone calls to your contacts using your internet connection. To add a contact you just need to open the chat, select New Contact and import a user from your smartphone's address book. Normally the list is automatically inserted in WhatsApp, so you only have to scroll through the list to find all the numbers of your friends.
If you are unable to load a contact, it is possible that it was saved in the address book without a prefix, or with an incorrect code, a common situation especially for international numbers and people who are abroad. In this case you should check the prefix, and if necessary, change it until the WhatsApp symbol appears next to the contact. Your friends' numbers can also be included in broadcast lists, a new feature of the app that allows you to send messages quickly.
To create a broadcast list just enter the app, select Broadcast Lists from the main menu, tap New List at the bottom of the screen, enter the names of the participants in the list and finalize with the Create button. Doing so allows you to send messages simultaneously to all members of the list, to speed up communication with certain groups of contacts. Another setting of the WhatsApp account concerns the profile status, a condition similar to the one present on Instagram and Snapchat.
The status allows you to match a photo to the profile, add a small text and insert a symbol, for example, a figure similar to an emoji. Lately, WhatsApp developers have introduced a new feature, which allows you to put a video or a media file in the status, taken from the application's chats or imported from the phone's memory. Obviously, if you block a user, the contact can no longer view the status of his personal profile.
How to create chats and groups on WhatsApp
One of the most important features of WhatsApp is the ability to create groups, chats in which you can invite some contacts and send public messages, visible to all members of the group. To do this you have to go to the main screen > open the menu > choose the item New Group or New Chat, depending on your smartphone model. The group can be customized, for example, by adding an emoji, an image or a photo taken from the phone's gallery. To invite contacts within WhatsApp groups, in case you are the administrator of the chat, you have to enter the group, tap the Menu item and select Group Info, set the option Invite via link and send the invitation to the desired contacts.
Or you can do it via QR Code, by entering the chat menu and selecting the item Print QR Code of the group, scanning it with a simple application for smartphones and iPhones, before sending it to your friends. To add participants to the group at a later time, just enter the group menu, in the Group Info section and tap Add Participants.
To delete contacts from the group the operation is the same, however you have to indicate in the chat menu the feature Remove > choose the users to delete > finalize with the OK button. Within WhatsApp groups you can also mention people, even if they are not part of the chat, by entering the name of the contact preceded by the @ symbol.
Finally you can always leave WhatsApp groups, you only need to access the chat menu, select Leave Group and tap on the option Leave, however the chats you were part of will remain visible in the list of groups. To delete them permanently, just tap on the group object > open the Chat > item; tap on Delete Group and confirm the operation, to no longer see the inactive group in the screen.
How to format WhatsApp messages
Messages sent on WhatsApp can be formatted, both within private conversations and group chats, to insert some parts of text in italics, bold or in strikethrough. To do this you need to add simple symbols, at the beginning and end of the text to be formatted. For italic text, you need to add two dashes, _text_, for bold text, two asterisks, *text*, for strikethrough, two tildes, ~text~, and for monospaced text, three grave accents, "`text"`.
There are also two quick paths to transform the text according to the desired formatting by working directly in the settings. From any Android smartphone you need to select the part of the text you want to edit, tap the three dots in the top right corner with the heading More, choosing the preferred option from those proposed. Instead in iOS iPhones you need to tap the BIU item, always highlighting the text to be formatted before making the change.
How to send documents, files, videos and photos with WhatsApp
In addition to text messages, WhatsApp allows you to send different types of documents and files, including photos, either from the phone's gallery or taken directly from the application, videos, images and your own location. To send a file to a contact, or share the document in a WhatsApp group, you need to open the chat > tap the paperclip symbol in the upper right corner, marked Attach > choose the file and send it.
From the attachments menu you can select audio files, contacts, photos from the gallery, videos, link links, URLs and documents in various formats, including Word and PDF. Every file sent in WhatsApp chats is saved automatically, within the WhatsApp/Media/WhatsApp Documents folder. Similarly, you can forward a message from a chat, publishing it in another group or in a private chat, by tapping for two seconds on the message, selecting the Forward feature, choosing the destination chat and finalizing with the Send button.
To perform the same operation from an iPhone you need to tap the Attach item, marked with the + symbol, choose the file or document to share and send it. From Windows phone, tap the paperclip symbol, select the type of item you want to send, including live photos and videos or those taken from the gallery, as well as documents, contacts, your location and audio files, or press and hold an item in a chat, tap Forward, and send it to a group or private chat.
How to send a voice message on WhatsApp
Voice messages have decreed the immense success of WhatsApp, being a feature extremely appreciated by users, since it allows you to send voice notes without having to type the text. A quick and practical way to share information and chat with your contacts, without having to synthesize speeches as happens with text messages, especially useful when you are busy and do not have both hands free.
To send a voice message with WhatsApp just open a chat, hold down the microphone symbol, located at the bottom right, record the voice note and release the audio file, confirming the sending with the green arrow symbol located at the bottom right. To cancel the voice message, while recording, just slide the microphone to the left, canceling the recording and starting a new one.
The playback of voice messages, on the other hand, is done by touching the button with the Play symbol, formed by a triangle rotated by 90° placed next to the voice note. The microphone symbol, also on the side of the message, allows you to determine the condition of the voice note according to its color. If the microphone is green it means that the message has not yet been read, if it is blue it means that it has already been listened to, while for those sent the reference colors are gray, if the user has not heard the note or blue, when the message has been heard by the recipient.
How to customize WhatsApp notifications
Every message received on WhatsApp is accompanied by an alert, an audible notification that can be completely customized, or muted altogether. To make such a setting you have to enter the main configurations, tapping the three dots in the upper right corner, selecting the entry Settings. After that you have to choose Notifications and configure the type of alert you want to activate.
For example, you can set a special ringtone, link vibrations to the receipt of messages and voice notes, or mute it so you won't be disturbed. In the settings there is also an additional feature, Pop-up Notification, which if activated automatically opens a pop-up window when receiving new messages. WhatsApp notifications can be adjusted separately for calls, messages and groups, to match each service with a different alert.
Instead to mute a single group or contact just tap the chat image, select the information(s), moving the selector to the Silence Notifications item. In this way you can set the silent mode of a single chat, choosing a duration of 8 hours, 1 week or 1 year, or disable the sound alert but leave the visual appearance of notifications, so you won't be disturbed but see all new messages.
To customize the notifications of a single group or contact you have to always tap the chat icon, press the item (i), choose Custom Notifications and set the preferred mode for each group and contact. In this way you can immediately understand whose message is coming, to recognize the sender and establish its importance without opening the application. In this section you can also change the brightness of the chat, to make the background more or less dark.
How to search WhatsApp chats
You often receive dozens if not hundreds of messages on WhatsApp per day, especially when you participate in various groups. To facilitate searches for files and documents, even text messages, videos and images, a quick search feature has been included in the application. To activate it just open WhatsApp > tap the magnifying glass symbol > write one or more keywords to search in the chat. In the same way you can search for contacts, by typing the name of the person and selecting the contact from the results proposed by the system, or for voice calls.
To do this you have to tap the item Calls in the main menu at the top, typing the name of the contact of which you want to find all the phone calls made. The app will display each call with information about the day, month, time and whether it's an outgoing call, marked by a green arrow, or received, accompanied by a red arrow. By tapping on a single call, you can also see the size in MB of the call and the attempts made on the same day.
How to make calls and video calls with WhatsApp
One of the most used features on WhatsApp is that of calls, with which you can call anywhere in the world without using your cell phone credit, taking advantage of the mobile internet connection or Wi-Fi. To call with WhatsApp you just have to open a contact, tap the phone handset symbol and start the call, while from group chats you have to select the user you want to talk to by tapping the handset symbol with a + on the side.
During the conversation you can activate some additional modes, for example you can start the speakerphone by tapping the megaphone symbol, mute the call by selecting the crossed out microphone icon, or write a text message by tapping the middle symbol in the bottom menu, located within the central screen.
The cost of calls only affects data traffic, so it is advisable to make calls from WhastApp only when you are connected to a Wi-Fi connection.
In addition to phone calls you can also make video calls, to talk and see the other person at the same time, an extremely useful mode when you live abroad. To activate video calls, just select the contact, tap the camera symbol and wait for the other user to respond, but to take advantage of this feature, the recipient of the video call must also tap the camera icon.
How to forward WhatsApp messages secretly
Over the years, due to the great success of WhatsApp, which now has 1.5 billion users worldwide, several problems have arisen related to privacy and excessive invasiveness of the messaging app. In particular, a bitter debate has arisen regarding fake news, so every message forwarded, that is, copied and sent to a contact or group chat, carries the name of the original author.
However, there is a way that allows you to forward messages with WhatsApp secretly, without letting the other person know that the message has been copied. You just need to highlight the text you want to use, hold it down for a few seconds, copy it through the symbol of two parallel sheets and paste it into the other chat, tapping for a few seconds on the empty space to be filled, to make the appropriate icon appear. In this way, no one will know that the text has been copied.
How to be invisible on WhatsApp
One feature of the messaging app is particularly annoying, WhatsApp's double blue tick, which allows the person who sent the message to understand when the recipient has read it. By doing so, it is possible to know if the other person has seen the text or heard the voice note, but at that moment does not want to respond, creating quite a few squabbles about it. However, you can hide read confirmations on WhatsApp, to avoid such an unpleasant situation.
To remove blue ticks on read messages you need to go into the settings, access your Account and the Privacy section, setting the read confirmations selector to Off. The operation is completely reversible, in fact you just need to go back to your profile settings and move the switch to On. This mode allows you to not show the sender the double blue ticks, so no one will know when the message has actually been read.
Another privacy setting concerns the account status, in fact although you cannot disable the Online or Writing mode, which shows other users when you are active on WhatsApp or writing a message, you can disguise the last login. To hide it, just go into the general settings, access the Account > Privacy > change the Last Access status, moving the selector to None.
WhatsApp Business: what it is and how it works
A few years ago the WhatsApp Business application was released, an app available for Android and iPhone iOS reserved for small businesses and commercial profiles. It is a service that allows you to communicate with your customers, using the messaging features of WhatsApp. Its operation is similar to that of Facebook Messenger, in fact you can create a personalized profile of your business, inserting information such as contacts and links to the official website.
Once WhatsApp Business is activated you can send and receive messages, photos, videos and voice notes with users registered in your contacts, to manage online services, sales and support quickly and efficiently. The business app also provides analytics tools, including real-time statistics on messages sent and received, the percentage of those read and messages ignored by users.
How to protect your WhatsApp account
Malicious attackers and scammers are always lurking on the web, so it's important to protect your WhatsApp account, increasing its security to prevent someone from accessing your sensitive data. One of the innovations launched in this sense is end-to-end encryption, which makes it extremely difficult to intercept messages, however, you must also adjust the Privacy mode within the settings, always logging out of the desktop version.
You can also decide permissions, to determine who can see your personal information, for example by limiting this option to certain contacts in the address book. Alternatively, you can use third-party apps that add a higher level of security, but if you have any suspicions or problems, you should immediately contact WhatsApp support by submitting a report from the settings, under the Help, Contact Us section.
How to block spam and contacts on WhatsApp
The excessive presence in groups, chats and private contacts, including advertising and promotional messages, has caused some annoyance for many users. To limit unwelcome messages, however, you can block a contact on WhatsApp. To do this, just go to the settings, selecting the icon with the three dots in the upper right corner, tap on the entry Account, Privacy, Blocked Contacts and press the + or Add button, to add a new user to the list.
In the same way you can also unblock contacts, previously placed on the black list, perhaps following a clarification that ended the quarrel. All you have to do is repeat the blocking operation, but this time hold down the contact in question for a few seconds until the app shows a series of options and select Unblock. Blocking contacts prevents you from receiving not only messages, but also calls and video calls from the user.
Similarly there is an anti-spam feature on WhatsApp, which allows you to limit the advertising messages you receive, for example when they become particularly insistent or inappropriate. To block and report spam on WhatsApp you need to go to Settings > follow the About > Contact path and tap on the three dots in the lower right corner and select Report Spam and Block.
How to backup WhatsApp chats
Some chats may contain important information and documents, so in some cases it is useful to back up your WhatsApp chats by saving them directly to Google Drive. For this operation some system requirements are required, including for Android smartphones the presence of the Google Play Services app, for iOS iPhones an active iCloud account, while on the computer one of the two services, depending on the operating system installed on the pc.
To backup WhatsApp to Google Drive you have to open the application, tap on the three dots in the upper right corner of the menu, choose the Settings option, continuing with Chats and Chat Backup. In this screen you will see the last backup operation performed, so to perform a new one just tap Perform Backup and confirm. You can also configure some settings, such as excluding videos, selecting the mode to back up only when Wi-Fi is active, or adjusting the frequency for automatic backups.
Alternatively, there is a lighter mode, which lets you archive chats to read their content later. However, it is important to remember that archiving does not save the contents, in fact, with this operation you neither make a backup nor can you delete the chats. To activate archiving just open the list of chats, tap for a few seconds on the one you want and select Archive in the upper right corner.
You can also perform a collective archiving of all chats, you just have to enter the main menu of WhatsApp > go to Settings > tap Chat > Chat History > choose Archive all chats. To view it, you need to scroll down the list to the end, select Archived Chats, choose the chat and keep it pressed for a few seconds, opting for the Extract from archive feature.
How to deactivate and delete WhatsApp
Although it is the most used messaging app in the world, sometimes it is not enough to delete messages on WhatsApp, in fact it becomes necessary to deactivate the service and delete WhatsApp from your device, deleting the account. To deactivate WhatsApp you need to open the app on your smartphone, tap the three dots in the upper right corner, go to Settings, select Account and Delete account, write the phone number on which the app is activated, tap Delete account again, indicate the reason for deactivation and confirm the operation by tapping Delete account again. This will result in immediate deletion from all groups, chats, contact lists and loss of data backed up on Google Drive.
How to use WhatsApp Web
WhatsApp Web is a digital platform, a website for using the messaging app directly from your computer, with all the data in the mobile app at your disposal. To use this feature you just need an Android smartphone, an iPhone iOS from version 8.1 onwards, a Windows phone at least 8.0, or a Black Berry 10, while WhatsApp Web is compatible with any web browser, including Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.
The first thing you need to do is synchronize and enable the data transfer, by going to the site www.whatsapp.com and entering the web section from the top menu, or by entering the address web.whatsapp.com. After that you have to open the app on your device, select the three dots from the menu at the top right and tap on WhatsApp Web. At this point a window will appear with a QR Code, so you only need to leave your phone in front of the PC screen for a few seconds to finish the synchronization.
After activating WhatsApp web services you can use the platform as if it were an app, writing and reading messages, sending voice notes, documents, files, videos and photos, downloading any important item and performing all the operations present in the mobile version. During the process you must not disconnect your phone, otherwise you can no longer use the service.
WhatsApp vs Telegram: which app is better?
The presence of many similar features, between WhatsApp and Telegram, often triggers a heated diatribe between which is the best messaging app between the two. Despite several similarities though, in reality the apps are profoundly different from each other. For example, with Telegram you can create super-groups, use chatbots and stickers to label your chats, plus there are also messages that disappear after a certain time, self-destructing on their own.
On the contrary, WhatsApp provides services such as calls, video calls, boasts a lighter weight than Telegram and almost similar cyber security. Choosing between the two applications is not easy, in fact it depends partly on one's personal tastes. The ideal way to make a decision is to experience both, using them for a while to decide who is the winner in the WhatsApp vs Telegram fight.