Getting started with Facebook’s Messenger app – Everything you need to know explained

If you need help setting up Messenger and finding your way around, let us guide you…

There are so many ways to keep in touch with friends and family online these days, but Facebook’s Messenger app is one of the easiest options.

Why? Many of the people you know are probably already on Facebook’s main social networking site, so there’s no need to faff around with phone numbers or PINs.

[Read more: How do I download and install Facebook Messenger?]

Facebook separated the Messenger part of its service from the main app in August 2014 – to the outrage of many, who believed Facebook was strong-arming them into downloading another application. Most people have now accepted Messenger’s separation from the main app and seen the advantages: it’s speedier and has more features than before.

If you’re still hesitant about joining up, here’s a guide to Facebook Messenger and the features it brings into play…

 

Step 1: Download Messenger

Firstly, you’ll need to download the app. It’s free from your app store, or by following the prompt from the main app. If your Facebook account is tied to your phone you won’t have to login again.

Facebook Messenger

Step 2: Mobile number request

Initially Facebook asks for your phone number. The company sells this as a benefit as it allows your non-Facebook friends to find you on Messenger. Skip this step if giving Facebook your mobile number makes you uncomfortable by clicking Not Now – the app works without it.

Facebook Messenger

Step 3: Importing contacts

Next you’ll be asked if you wish to import your phone contacts into the app and add them as Messenger contacts, even if you’re not friends with them.

Importing those contacts will store them on Facebook’s own servers, so again, it’s at your discretion.

[Read more: What do the Facebook Messenger symbols mean?]

Step 4: Basic control

Once set up, you’ll see the familiar chat screen, where all of your ‘Recent’ conversations are displayed in chronological order. Friends who also have the Messenger app installed are highlighted by the blue lightning bolt icon.

Unread messages are displayed in bold, while swiping right allows you to delete or mute the conversation. Finally, tapping a name takes you through to the chat window.

Step 5: Taking a photo

Hitting the camera icon allows you to snap a quick picture and attach it with a single tap.

Step 6:  Attaching a photo

You can also easily attach a photo from your camera roll by tapping the photograph icon. Previously, this would load your gallery app, but the Messenger app loads a mini gallery at the foot of the window in a neat, time-saving feature.

Facebook Messenger

Step 7: Filming

Holding down ‘Send’ allows you to record up to 15 seconds of video and attach it straight to a message.

Step 8: Smiley faces

It’s also possible to add Facebook’s emoji stickers to the chat.

Facebook Messenger

Step 9: Audio snippets

Tapping the microphone icon and then holding down Record lets you capture a 15-second (or less) audio message.

Step 10: Shared photos

There’s also an info icon that will take you to access photos users have shared privately with each other, while also offering a shortcut to their profile. You can even mute messages from them.

[Read more: Want to leave Facebook and keep Messenger? Here's how to do it]

Step 11: Share your location

If you’re meeting up with a person, the location feature can be useful. Click the pointer icon and your device will determine your location (make sure location settings are switched on for this to work).

Facebook Messenger

Step 12: Make an audio or video call

Tapping the top right icon allows you to make free video call or audio calls to your Facebook friends. It’s best to do this on a wi-fi connection to save your data allowance.

If your friend isn’t available you can even leave them a voicemail.

Facebook Messenger

Step 13: Chat Heads

Messenger runs in the background when you’re not using it and Chat Heads appear when you get a new message on Android. These are small circular icons of your friends that appear on the side of your screen.

Click them to open Messenger and start chatting to them. Or drag them to the bottom of your screen to dismiss the message.

 

Facebook Messenger

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

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