More than 900 million people use Messenger, Facebook’s chat product, every month.
To keep people coming back, the company has been juicing up Messenger’s capabilities, turning it into a platform that extends beyond just chatting to things like getting news or hailing a ride.
Here’s everything you need to know to make Messenger as useful as possible:
First things first: if you want to boycott the main Facebook app but still use Messenger, it's possible to make an account using only your phone number. Just download the app or go to Messenger.com to sign up.
Similarly, you can access Messenger on desktop without going to Facebook.com. If you're finding yourself too distracted by the social network's site but want to chat with your friends on your computer...
Although Messenger was traditionally just for chatting with friends, Facebook has recently allowed businesses to start creating chatbots. You can do things like order flowers, get news updates, or check your flight status, all through Messenger.
One of the built-in services that you don't need a bot for is ordering a ride from either Lyft or Uber. You can access this capability by clicking on an address that someone shares, or by pressing the three dots in the right hand corner of the app and clicking 'Transportation.'
You can also integrate a lot of other mini-apps within Messenger -- like Dropbox for sharing files or Bitmoji to send personalised graphics -- by pressing the three dots in the corner of a chat.
There are also two games that you can play directly in Messenger without any apps. Try sending someone the basketball emoji.
Tap it, and you'll enter the game, where you swipe on the basketball to try to make as many consecutive baskets in a row as you can.
Another fun feature is that you can customise your conversations. You can change the colour of chats, add custom emojis, and give people or group chats nicknames.
Wanna pay someone back for a meal you split? You can send money through Messenger. Facebook doesn't charge a fee for this service, but it could take a few days for your cash to transfer, depending on your bank.
Person-to-person video calling is also free. Personally, I love to use this with friends who have Android phones, since I can't FaceTime them. When you're in a chat thread with someone, just press the video camera icon in the top right-hand corner.
You can also have group calls with up to 50 people. When you're in a group conversation, just tap on the phone icon in the top right corner to get started.
If you don't want to type, but also don't want to leap to a call, you can also leave little voice clips. I've used this feature to send someone a clip of a song from a live concert.
Sometimes you might want to chat with someone that you're not Facebook friends with. Once you search a name you're not already connected with, you'll be prompted to send them a 'Message Request.' Also, heads up: Facebook filters message requests that it thinks are spam, so you should periodically check your filtered requests folder to make sure you don't miss anything important.
To start chatting with someone without searching for their name, you can also scan their Messenger code. Each user has a unique identifier. You'll find the 'Scan code' option under 'People' in the chat app.
But if you need a break from distractions or a certain thread is getting too many messages, you can mute a conversation. Just tap the name of a group or a person and change your notifications for that chat:
You can also choose to give Messenger access to your phone's camera roll so that it will automatically prompt you to send friends the photos that you took of them. To turn it on, go to your settings and then enable 'Photo Magic.'
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