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Master Facebook Messenger with these helpful tips and tricks

Over 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger every month to stay in touch with their family and friends. Facebook’s messaging app set out to compete with each and every instant message app around, and even with texting. While Facebook Messenger is packed with functionality, some of its best features aren’t readily apparent. New functions are constantly being rolled out as the app is updated, and if you aren’t looking you might miss a few. Check out our tips and tricks below to find out if you’re making the most of Facebook’s popular chat service.

Getting started

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have the most recent version of Facebook Messenger, which can easily be done in iOS and Android.

If you’re an iOS user, open the App Store and tap your account button (the one with the silhouette of a person’s head) on the top far right. Afterward, tap the Update All button about halfway down the page under Available Updates or the Update button directly to the right of Facebook Messenger, if available.

If you’re an Android user, open the Google Play Store and tap the three horizontal lines in the top left. Then, tap My apps & games from the resulting menu and you’ll see a list of possible updates. Find Facebook Messenger and update it as needed, or just tap Update all at the top.

Facebook Messenger basics

How to turn on Dark Mode

Using your phone at night can cause some serious eye-strain, so before you respond to your lover, friend, or family, leave them on seen for a moment and turn on Dark Mode. As the name suggests, Dark Mode switches the primary color of the Messenger UI to much darker tones. This reduces the amount of light that your phone emits, especially if it has an AMOLED display.

To activate this feature, simply tap on your profile picture on the upper-right corner of the main page, and then toggle on Dark Mode. Everything will dim down when done correctly. You can always toggle it off if you want to revert the setting.

How to change your Active Status

Sometimes, you may want to stay incognito and message specific people without others knowing you’re active. If that’s the case, it’s important to know how to change your Active Status.

Like Dark Mode, tap on your profile picture on the upper-right corner of the main page to access your messenger settings. Tap on Active Status and then toggle off Show when you’re active. Note that your friends will still be able to see that you’re active if you use Messenger on any other device, so you’ll have to change the status there as well.

How to tell if your message has been read

When you send a message through Facebook Messenger, you can easily tell if it has been read when the other person’s profile picture appears to the bottom right of your sent message. In group conversations, you’ll see multiple profile pictures appear as people in the group read the message.

When you see an open blue circle, it means your message is being sent. An open blue circle with a checkmark indicates that your message has been sent. A filled blue circle with a checkmark indicates that your message has been delivered, though the recipient may not have read it yet. If you see a small profile picture, then the recipient has read the message. A red triangle indicates that it failed to send. If your message fails, check your Wi-Fi and network connections.

How to make a voice or video call

Did you know that you can use Facebook Messenger to make voice or video calls? Simply tap the phone icon in the top-right corner for a normal voice call or the video icon next to it for a video call. This will be free if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, but if you’re on a cellular network, then it’s going to use up some of your data allowance.

How to send an audio message

If the person you want to talk to isn’t there, you can always send an audio message for them to listen to later. All you need to do is tap the microphone icon. Continue pressing on the red record button to record your message, then release the button to send it.

How to send a new photo or video

If you prefer to send a photo or a video, then tap the camera icon. The entire screen will show the camera view and you can tap to snap a photo or tap and hold to record a video. Once done, simply tap the arrow on the bottom right to send your photo or video. You can also activate special effects and masks by tapping the icon above the shutter button, or switch to the selfie camera with the icon in the top right.

How to send a photo or video from your roll

You can also send photos and videos from your camera roll by tapping the picture icon next to the camera icon. A gallery will pop up and you can scroll through the recent photos and videos and choose which ones you’d like to send. If you want to add a message or annotate a photo to show off something important, then tap the edit icon (which looks like a pen) before sending. You can also draw atop photos and add text.

How to add a photo or video to your story

Facebook Stories, formerly known as Messenger Days, is a feature that lets you share updates with all your friends at once. Those updates, like Snapchat, disappear after 24 hours — so don’t worry too much about getting that perfect filter.

To add something to your story, open Messenger and select the plus sign labeled Your Story. Then, take a photo or video or upload an existing file, and hit the Your Story on the bottom corner to post. You can add filters and text and also send the story to a friend or family.

Using a chatbot

One of Facebook Messenger’s best and most innovative new features is the inclusion of chatbots, which are basically algorithms that you can interact with instead of talking to an actual human. This is helpful for customer service situations, but it can also be helpful for things like getting news and weather updates.

You can search for a bot directly in the “to” field of a new message, and once you find one you’ll be able to select options from menus and ask questions.

Emoji tricks, GIFs, and Stickers

How to change emoji skin tones

There are a ton of emoji to choose from in the Messenger keyboard, and to add even more diversity, you can change skin tones. Simply tap and hold any hand gesture, face, or gesture emoji and a catalog of light to dark skin tones will pop up. You can tap on one to input it or tap and hold to enlarge the size.

How to resize your thumbs-up

One of the quickest and easiest ways to respond to a message is to tap the blue thumbs-up icon. But did you know that you can tap and hold on it to make it grow? Now you can make your thumbs-ups as big as you’d like.

If you don’t like or use the thumbs-up icon, then you can choose another emoji to replace it. In a conversation, tap the top right “i” icon. Next, tap on Emoji and choose your favorite — you’ll be able to enlarge this emoji just like the thumbs-up icon.

How to add a GIF

Some pictures are worth a thousand words, and GIFs can be ideal for conveying how you feel. Thankfully, Facebook Messenger taps into various GIF search engines to get you the perfect result. To add a GIF to your conversation, just tap the emoji icon in the textbox, tap GIFs and search for something. Tap the GIF you want to send, and that’s it.

How to add a sticker

If you want to send a sticker in a message, then tap the smiley face icon. The stickers are divided into sections, but you can enter specific terms to narrow the search results. When you find the one you want, just tap on it to send it. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, then you can tap the plus icon on the right to peruse the sticker store and get more options.

How to send balloons

If you open the emoticons and choose the light bulb icon, you’ll find a balloon emoticon, which will trigger an animated burst of balloons for your recipient when you send it. You’ll also see the animation when you tap send.

More handy messaging tips

How to share your location

If you want to send someone a map of your exact location, in real time, then simply open a conversation with a contact or group of contacts, tap the plus icon, and click on Location. Then tap Share Live Location, and the recipient will see your real-time location for 60 minutes. If it’s the first time you’ve used it, you’ll be prompted to allow location tracking.

How to set names and photos for group chats

Open the conversation and tap the name at the top if using iOS, or the “i” in the top-right corner if using Android. You can change the name at the top of a group page by tapping on it and saving your new name. You can also tap at the top of the iOS app to capture or select a photo. In Android, you may need to tap the “i” in the top and choose Change group photo. You can choose one from your camera roll, or capture a new one.

How to set a nickname

If you prefer to use a nickname for someone in a conversation, then you can. Tap on their name at the top of a conversation if using iOS, or the “i” in the top right if using Android. Then, choose Nicknames, pick the person you want to set a nickname for, write it out, and tap Set.

How to mute a conversation

Sometimes, especially with group conversations, you’ll get bombarded by too many notifications. It’s hard to resist the impulse to check them when your phone beeps, but it’s annoying when it’s just another thumbs-up from a group member, or something that doesn’t apply to you. Thankfully, you can mute specific conversations easily. To do so, tap the name at the top in iOS, or the “i” in the top right of the Android app. Afterward, tap Notifications and you’ll be presented with a host of options for muting the conversation.

How to check messages from non-friends

Facebook Messenger allows people who aren’t officially your friends to send you messages, but it’s not immediately obvious where these messages are. If you want to check, tap the three horizontal lines at the bottom to access your contacts page and look for Message Requests near the top. Then, you can read these messages and decide if you want to accept or ignore them. Some of them are going to be spam, sure, but you might just find something interesting.

Play games, install apps, or send money

How to play basketball

While there’s nothing here to compete with the best Android games, you can play games in Facebook Messenger. If you want to shoot some hoops in Facebook Messenger, then tap the plus icon in the left of the text field, and tap Games. You can find a wide variety of games to challenge your friends with, such as basketball, Snake, and Bat Climb.

How to send money

If you’re over 18, live in the United States, and you’re prepared to add a Visa or Mastercard to your Facebook Messenger account, then you can send money through the app. All you need to do tap the plus icon, tap Payments, choose the amount you want to send, and tap Pay. The recipient will also have to add a card to receive their money, however.

How to send group payments

You can send money to more than one person if you want to, in fact, you can send money to a whole group of people. Sending group payments works pretty much the same as sending to a single person. Simply tap on the Payments icon and complete the prompts to send money to all the people in the group. You can also request money from everyone in a group.

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Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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