Facebook Messenger isn’t just part of Facebook anymore – it’s now a complete standalone app and website and, as such, has a host of new features to get your head around.

You might be using it to chat to friends, but did you know you can keep your messages top secret? Or that you don’t even need a Facebook account to use it? You can also share your location with friends, mute notifications and do much, much more…

[Read more: How do I use Facebook Messenger?]

Tip 1: Use it on the web

While you can still message people through Facebook, the social network has launched a standalone website just for the messaging function. That way, you can use it as a chat system like Skype or WhatsApp, without being distracted by status updates, funny videos, and all the other stuff Facebook has to offer.

Head to messenger.com and sign in with your Facebook password.

Tip 2: Use colour chats

Not to be confused with colourful language, colour chats are simply conversations that you’ve assigned a colour to. That way, they’ll be easier to find.

  • iOS: Tap on someone’s name at the top of a conversation, and select Colour.
  • Android: Tap the Info button in the top right of the screen.

You can also assign the chat a nickname, and change your emoji response.

Facebook colour messages

Tip 3: Edit photos

Sure, sending pictures to friends is a cool feature, but wouldn’t it be even better if you could personalise them? Now you can.

Within the Messenger app, just tap a selected photo and use the icons to add your own text, and even draw on the image.

Tip 4: Use it without Facebook

It might be called Facebook Messenger, but you don’t need a Facebook account to use it. Just download the Messenger app, and select the Not on Facebook? option. As long as you enter your phone number and name, you can use it to ping messages, photos, and videos to contacts, start group chats, and use voice and video calling. Who needs Facebook, eh?

[Read more: Fed up of Facebook, but want to keep Messenger? Here’s how]

Tip 5: Share your location

Want to let friends know where you are? It’s simple in Messenger.

Just open a conversation, and tap the + button (it’s next to the text box – if it doesn’t appear, press the arrow button, then the + button).

Press Location button, which looks like a compass needle, followed by Send. Hey presto – everyone within that chat will get a link to your current location.

Facebook Messenger Location

Tip 6: Mute notifications for different times

It’s nice to hear from friends, but sometimes you don’t want to be disturbed. On those occasions, you can mute notifications from Messenger.

  • iPhone: On the home screen tap your profile picture, then Notifications. Tap Do Not Disturb, then choose how long to turn off notifications.To mute a single conversation, tap Home, press the conversation and tap Mute.
  • Android: On the home screen tap your profile picture, then it’s Notifications & Sounds. Tap next to notification previews to turn them off. To mute a single conversation, tap Home, press the conversation and tap Mute notifications.Mute notifications

Tip 7: Have secret conversations

If you want your chats to stay completely private – so private that the government and even Facebook itself can’t read them – you’ll want to activate the Secret Messages feature.

Go to Compose Message - Secret in the top-right corner (or a small switch with a padlock, if you’re using the Android app) and select a friend.

Set the phone you’re using as your default device (so your chat won’t show up on any other device linked to your Facebook account) and that’s it.

You can also set your messages to self-destruct, so they’re deleted once they’ve been read. Click Set Timer (or a clock face on Android) and choose how long you want before your missive evaporates into thin air, like it was never there…

Tip 8: Set profile codes

Adding a contact is now as easy as scanning a barcode.

Facebook people codes

Go to People- Scan Code and you can scan someone’s code from their phone screen using your phone’s camera. They’ll be added as a contact automatically, so you can start chatting with them over Messenger.

To view your own code go to People-My Code.

[Read more: 4 exciting features coming up for Facebook Messenger]