Facebook Messenger is now rivalling WhatsApp when it comes to sending free messages to your contacts via the internet.  If you’re not familiar with either application, they allow you to send messages using data or wi-fi.

Facebook Messenger is available to anyone in the UK, not just people who have a Facebook account, and can also be used to contact groups of people and make voice and video calls – all that is required is that you need to be in the contact list of the person(s) you are messaging, and they in yours.

If you don’t already have the app on your phone or tablet, here’s how you can download it and start contacting your friends.

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

How do I install Facebook Messenger on my iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch?

1.      Open the App Store on your device. 

2.      Tap the Search button at the bottom of the screen. This opens the app search field.

3.      Type in the word ‘Messenger’ – a number of apps will appear in the search results. Find the app developed by ‘Facebook Inc’ and tap the ‘get’ button. Alternatively this link will take you straight to the relevant page.

4.      Tap ‘install’.  The app should then begin downloading. Depending on your security and privacy settings, you may be asked to provide your Apple ID before your device lets you download.

5.      Once it is downloaded, there should be an ‘Open’ button to tap in the App Store to start Facebook Messenger – or you can simply find the Messenger icon in your apps and tap that.

6.      Once you have launched the app, you should be prompted to log in – you can use your Facebook account to do this if you have one, or create a Messenger-only account if you choose not to be on Facebook by clicking on ‘Not on Facebook?’. Follow the instructions on how to sign in using your phone number or email.

How do I install Facebook Messenger on my Android device?

1.      Open the Google Play Store on your device.

2.      Type ‘Messenger’ in the search field.  A list of apps will appear.

3.      Find the app developed by ‘Facebook Inc’ – which should be at or near the top of the list –and select it. Alternatively click on this link to go directly to Messenger on Google Store.

4.      Tap the ‘Install’ button.  You may be asked to allow permission for Messenger to access various tools on your device. If you’re happy with these tap ‘Accept’. Depending on your security and privacy settings, you may be asked to provide your Google account password before your device lets you download the app. You may also need to be connected to a wi-fi network to download.

5.      Once it has downloaded, tap the ‘Open’ button on the Messenger Google Store page. Alternatively you can find it on one of your home screens or in your list of apps, and launch it by tapping the app icon.

6.      Login using your Facebook account, or if you don’t have one tap on the ‘Not on Facebook?’ button on the login screen.  Follow the instructions on how to sign in using your phone number or email.

[Read more: How to download WhatsApp]

How do I install Facebook Messenger on my Windows computer or phone?

1.      Open the Windows Store on your device.

2.      Type ‘Messenger’ in the search field.  A list of apps will appear.

3.      Click the app that was developed by ‘Facebook Inc.’ It will be at or near the top of the list. Tap or click ‘Install/ to begin downloading Messenger. The app will begin downloading to your device. Alternatively, click on this link and then on ‘Get the app’. 

4.      Once it is downloaded, launch Facebook Messenger by clicking on the icon in your Start menu, or by finding it on your homepage or in your apps list on your phone.

5.      Login using your Facebook account, or if you don’t have one tap or click on the ‘Not on Facebook?’ button on the login screen.  Follow the instructions on how to sign in using your phone number or email.

Once you’re all set up, the app will ask you if you want to allow notifications. If you intend to make voice and video calls, it’s important to allow notifications otherwise you won’t know if people are trying to call you, unless you have the app open on your device at the time of the call.

You should also be prompted as to whether you would like to import your contacts from your device into Messenger.  If allowed, the app will automatically scan your contacts for those who have Messenger so that you can contact them easily.

Can I use Facebook Messenger without downloading the app?

Yes, you can go to the Messenger desktop website at messenger.com.  You can use this site to access Facebook Messenger on any device.  However, you will need a Facebook account to do this.

Read more: 8 Facebook Messenger tips - from editing photos to secret messages