Facebook Messenger is so much more than a mere chat app. Learn the best tips and tricks to turn yourself into a power user.
Facebook’s standalone messaging platform, the aptly named Facebook Messenger, has become almost as popular as Facebook itself. It now enjoys over a billion monthly users. That’s pretty impressive.
But Zuck & Co. appear to have far bigger plans for Messenger than just being Facebook’s chatty kid sibling. Over the past few years, Facebook has packed a lot of cool (and somewhat unexpected) functionality into Messenger. It’s now become something of an all-in-one productivity/communication platform.
One note of warning: For all the resources Facebook has packed into Messenger, some features can vary greatly across devices. Buttons may be in different locations, depending on what kind of device you are using.
1. Play Games on Messenger
Facebook has a fair selection of games built into the app that allow you to compete against your Facebook friends. Challenge your friends in dozens of games right from your chat window, including Words With Friends and Uno. Or play by yourself. You can also play on the desktop via Messenger.com. just tap the gamepad icon.
2. Chat on Messenger.com
Messenger.com is helpful if you work in front of a computer and don’t want your boss seeing you with your head buried in a smartphone all day. It doesn’t have all the functionality of the Facebook Messenger app, but it gets the job done.
3. Transfer Files
While most of the really cool stuff is reserved for the Messenger mobile apps, the web version allows you to send files: Microsoft Word documents, Photoshop files, and even videos.
If you’re using the pop-up chat interface on Facebook.com, there’s a little paperclip icon you can use to attach documents. If you’re using Messenger.com, you can just drag and drop files, or click the icon that looks like two overlapping photos.
Those on mobile can receive and access these files, but the Messenger app only allows you to send photos.
4. Send 15-Second Videos
You can, however, create short videos in Facebook Messenger and load them up with filters and other customization. On mobile, tap the camera icon, hold down the photo icon in the center of the screen, and let go when you’re done or your 15 seconds are up. On iPad, tap the photo icon and press the circle shutter icon to begin recording. On the web, you can prompt a video after hitting the little camera icon.
5. Create a Story
Messenger isn’t just for chatting with your friend. Sometimes you just want to make a statement to the world (aka, your Facebook friends), which you can do by creating a Facebook Story. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, you can create short collections of video and pictures to which you can add filters and written messages.
To get started, tap “Add to your story” on the top of the mobile app and follow the on-screen directions. Once the Story has been published, you can delete it or make it so only certain people can view it.
6. Scan a Code on Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger also features Scan Codes, initially introduced by social media rival Snapchat. Users can scan these personal codes and instantly be linked on the Messenger app.
The whole feature was designed to eliminate the awkward “who are you” aspect of trying to chat with a person you don’t know or have just met at a social gathering or trade show. Instead of taking the time to search through Facebook, just scan your new friend’s Scan Code on their profile. To see your code, tap your profile photo on the top left (iOS) or right (Android)—it’s on the bottom on iPad.
Here you’ll find your personalized code with your Facebook profile pic in the middle. If you tap that, the pop-up page will present two tabs. The “My Code” tab will present your code for easy scanning, while the “Scan Code” tab will allow you to scan in other people’s codes.
7. Talk to a Chatbot
Why chat with people when you can talk to a robot? Get news updates from CNN, order flowers with 1-800 Flowers, or even order a car with Uber via Facebook Messenger chatbots. Click the Discover lightning bolt icon in the bottom right on Android or iPhone, where you can search for bots to chat with or subscribe to for regular updates. On the web, you will have to search for bots directly in the “To:” field in a new conversation.
8. Add Extensions into Your Conversation
Facebook Messenger extensions allow you to interact with third-party services directly through your open chat window, giving you and your friend a chance to use them together. Click the plus sign in your conversation to view the extensions available to you.
Use Spotify, for example, to share songs, albums, and playlists (you can also share directly from the Spotify app), or send top news stories with the Wall Street Journal extension, and share recipes with the Food Network extension.
9. Supersize Your Emoji
Sometimes a simple emoji won’t do the trick and you need to SUPERSIZE it. Easy enough to do. Tap or click the smiley face emoji icon on mobile or the web, and long-press (or click) on your emoji of choice. When you release your finger, the super-sized emoji will send. But if you hold it too long, the icon will begin to shake before deflating back to its smaller, normal size.
10. Change Your Emoji Skin Tone
Add diversity to your emoji by navigating to Settings > Photos & Media > Emoji (Android) or Settings > Photos, Videos, & Emoji > Emoji (on iOS). You can then change what skin tone your emoji will display.
11. Send and Receive Money From Messenger
There are a number of mobile payment apps available now, but if you’d rather not leave the confines of Facebook when managing your finances, Messenger also lets you send and request money.
In the app, click the plus sign on the far left of the chat box and select Send Money or Payments depending on your OS. Fill out the amount, and add your payment information if it’s not yet added to the account.
To add a debit card or PayPal account to Facebook Messenger, tap your photo on the top of the app and select Payments > New Debit Card or Payments > Add PayPal. On the web, select the dollar sign icon on the menu and follow the same steps. You also have the ability to add a PIN or fingerprint in connection with financial transactions, so you can keep things more secure.
12. Start an Encrypted Secret Conversation
If you’re looking to share information that you don’t want falling into the wrong hands, you can double the amount of protection Messenger offers by starting a Secret Conversation, which uses the Signal Protocol to set up end-to-end encryption.
Starting a Secret Conversation is optional because end-to-end encryption breaks some features in Messenger, like using it across multiple devices, archiving past conversations, and even sending things like money or animated GIFs.
First, you will need to enable Secret Conversations on your device (it can only be active on one device at a time). To do this on iOS, tap your Facebook profile photo on the top left of Facebook Messenger, scroll to Secret Conversations, and toggle it on. On Android, hit the chat head icon on the top right to access Settings for your chat, scroll down to Secret Conversations, and toggle it on.
To send a “Secret” message, the process varies on iOS and Android. On iPhone, you can tap the New Message icon on the top right of the home screen and select “Secret” on the top right. Or, in an existing chat, tap the person’s name at the top of the screen and select Secret Conversation. On Android (pictured above), tap the “i” icon on the top right of a chat and select Go to Secret Conversation.
Secret conversations will appear in different threads from regular chats on iOS and Android.
13. Manage Visibility
If you value your privacy, Messenger has a few features that can help you secure your account, outside of Facebook’s own security features. Under the settings menu, tap Active Status to turn off when the app says you are online. When it comes to your Facebook Story, you can set it so that only certain people see them from now on. Like any other social media app, you also have the ability to block people you no longer want to message you.
14. Make Phone, Video Calls
Never Use your phone service again. You can make phone calls or video chat right through the Messenger app. Just click on the phone or video icon inside a chat on mobile or desktop to give your friend a call. Be warned that the service starts up as soon as you touch the button, though.
15. Make Messenger Your SMS App
If you like Facebook Messenger more than your standard text app, you can use it as your default SMS app—but only on Android. This means you will be able to receive text messages through the Messenger app, just like if someone was chatting with you. Tap your chat head and select SMS, and toggle on “Default SMS app.”
16. Read Receipts
You can check on the status of your messages by tapping on them inside the chat window. Messenger will inform you when a message has been sent, then notify you when it has been delivered. A small version of your friend’s profile picture will appear where they have read up to in your conversation.
17. Add Color Emoji, Nicknames to Conversations
Messenger gives users the power to nickname particular conversations, assign them a color theme, or even give them their own particular emoji.
You access this function differently on different platforms. In the Android and web version you hit the little “i” icon, while on iOS, you click the name at the top of the conversation.
18. Create a Poll on Facebook Messenger
Getting a group to make a decision can be frustrating. Messenger allows users to poll their friends when in a group chat. At the bottom of the group chat window, click the plus sign, then click on the Polls icon to put democracy in action. You are able to ask a question and then add options for your friends to choose from.
19. Add Reminders
If you have plans to meet up with a friend and you need to remind them, Messenger allows you to set up a reminder right in your chat. Click the plus sign and then Reminder to create one. Add a name, date, and even location, and the reminder will be sent in the chat.
20. Send Your Location
You can send your exact location to anyone you’re talking with on the mobile app by tapping the plus sign and selecting Location. Facebook will launch a map that shows your current location, and you have the option to share it for 60 minutes, or you can drop a pin at a specific spot. Friends will receive a link to your location on Messenger.
21. Add Additional Facebook Accounts
If you want to add an additional account to Messenger, go to Settings > Switch Account > Add Account to more easily switch between Facebook personas.