How to Add Anyone to Facebook Messenger

All the different ways you can connect with friends on Facebook's messaging app

Illustration of a person adding friends to Facebook Messenger on a smartphone

Lifewire / Julie Bang

Facebook Messenger is the most popular messaging platform in the world (closely followed by WhatsApp), which makes it one of the best tools for getting in touch with people fast and for free.

Despite its popularity, trying to figure out how to add people to Messenger can be kind of confusing. This is especially true in situations where your trusty Facebook friend list doesn't already bring you and other people together automatically on Messenger.

Luckily, there are five different techniques you can use to add people to Messenger—and no, you don't have to be Facebook friends first!

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When You're Already Friends on Facebook

Two screenshots of the Messenger app for iOS.

Before we get started on explaining how to add non-Facebook friends to Messenger, let's just touch on how to find current Facebook friends on Messenger first.

If you're new to Messenger, you might need a little help figuring out how to start chatting with your existing Facebook friends, which are automatically added to your Messenger app when you ​sign into it using your Facebook account login details.

Open Messenger and tap the People button in the menu in the center at the bottom of the screen followed by the Friend List button in the top right on the next tab. Your Facebook friends will be listed in alphabetical order by their last name on this tab

You might notice a few non-Facebook friends in this list. These are people that the app has detected you've connected with another way (such as by email) and is now suggesting you add them to Messenger. You can add them by tapping the Add button to the right of their name.

Scroll through the list to find the friend you want to start chatting with. Tap the name of the friend to open a chat with them.

If a friend is not currently using the Messenger app, an Invite button will appear to the right of their name, which you can tap to invite them to download the app. Regardless of whether you invite them to download the app, you can still chat with them and they will receive your message when they log into Facebook.com. 

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When You're Not Facebook Friends, But They Use Messenger

Two screenshots of the Messenger app for iOS.

If you're not already friends on Facebook (or even if one of you simply don't have a Facebook account), you can still add each other if one of you sends their user link to the other by email, text message, or any other form of communication of your choice.

To find your username link, open Messenger and tap your profile picture in the top left corner of the screen. In the following tab that opens, scroll down to find your username link beside Username.

Tap your username link and then tap Share Link from the list of options that appear over the screen. Select the app that you want to use to share your username link and send it to the person you want to add on Messenger.

When your recipient clicks on your username link, their Messenger app will open with your user listing so they can add you immediately. All they need to do is tap Add on Messenger and you will receive a connection request to add them back.

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When You Have Them Stored in Your Device's Contacts

Two screenshots of the Messenger app for iOS.

The contacts you keep in your device for calls and text messaging can be synced with Messenger so you can see exactly which of your contacts are using the app too. There are two different ways to do this.

Method 1: Sync Messenger With Your Device's Contact List

  • Open the app and tap your profile picture in the top left corner
  • Scroll down to Preferences and tap People
  • Tap Upload Contacts and follow the instructions. If this is your first time doing this you will have to give Messenger permission to access your contacts.

When Messenger has finished syncing, you'll be shown whether any new contacts have been found. If new contacts are found, you can tap Contacts Found to see who was automatically added from your contacts to Messenger.

Method 2: Manually Pick from Your Device's Contact List

  • Navigate to People tab and tap the plus sign (+) button in the top right corner
  • Tap the Add+ button followed by Pick from Your Contacts from the list of menu options that pops up

Your contacts from your device will be listed and you'll be able to scroll through them or search for a particular contact to see if they're on Messenger. You can manually add whoever you want by tapping Add on Messenger.

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When You Know Their Phone Number

Two screenshots of the Messenger app for iOS.

So maybe you don't have someone's number stored in your device's contacts, or you'd rather not sync your contacts with Messenger. If you at least have their phone number scribbled down somewhere or memorized, you can use it to manually add them to Messenger—as long as they've confirmed their phone number on Messenger.

In Messenger, tap the People button in the bottom menu and tap the plus sign (+) button in the top right corner. Select Enter Phone Number from the list of options that pop up and enter the phone number into the given field.

Tap Save when you're done and you'll be shown the corresponding user listing if Messenger detects one from the phone number you entered. Tap Add on Messenger to add them. 

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When You Meet Up in Person

Two screenshots of the Messenger app for iOS.

Last but not least, it can be a little awkward when you're trying to figure out how to add each other to Messenger as you're standing there physically together in person. You could certainly use any of the methods explained above—or you could just take advantage of Messenger's user code feature (Messenger's version of a QR code), which makes adding people in person quick and painless.

Simply open Messenger and tap your profile picture in the top left corner of the screen. On the following tab, your user code is represented by the unique blue lines and dots that encircle your profile picture.

Now you can tell your friend to open Messenger, navigate to the People tab and tap the plus sign (+) button in the top right followed by the Scan Code button. Note that they will be able to switch between My Code and Scan Code tabs to quickly access their own user code as well. They might need to configure their device settings to give Messenger permission to access the camera.

All your friend has to do is hold their camera over your device with your user code open to automatically scan it and add you to Messenger. You'll receive a connection request to add them back.

If you only use Messenger for the basic messaging features, you might want to consider switching from the standard Messenger app to Messenger Lite. It's cleaner, faster and less of a drain on your mobile device.