How to Send Facebook Messages on Your iPad

Facebook gave Messenger an app of its own

Screenshot of Facebook with Facebook Messenger

 Daniel Nations

If you use Facebook in a web browser, you're familiar with the messages feature that is built into the website, but the situation changes when you move to mobile apps. Facebook separated Facebook and Messenger into two mobile apps.

The Facebook Messenger app requires iOS 9 or later. It is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

You Need the Messenger App

If you want to send and receive Facebook messages on your iPad, you need to download the Facebook Messenger app from the iPad App Store. A Messenger button exists in the Facebook app — somewhat hidden — but tapping it takes you to the Messenger app (or prompts you to download it).  After you download the Messenger app and log in, you aren't required to have the Facebook app to send or receive messages. Tap the Messenger app to open it.

The first time Facebook Messenger loads, you are prompted to answer several questions and provide your Facebook login information. You only have to do this the first time you launch the app.

The app may request your phone number, access to your address book, and the ability to send you notifications. It's OK to decline to give the app your phone number or your address book. Facebook wants to access as much information as possible, but you can use Messenger without giving up your full contact list. The Messenger app also works if you don't turn on notifications, although if you use Facebook messages regularly, notifications are a useful feature.

How to Use the Messenger App

When you open the Messenger App, the icons and names of Facebook members you have messaged in the past appear in the left panel. The people who are currently online are identified by a green circle and appear near the top of the panel. The rest of your contacts who are not online appear underneath.

When you select a Facebook friend who is online, you can have a real-time chat with the person. If you message someone who is not online, the message is saved and delivered the next time the recipient is on Facebook. Here's how to send a message:

  1. Open the Messenger app and tap the name of one of your Facebook contacts in the left panel to start or continue a conversation.

    Opening screen of iOS Messenger App on iPad
  2. Type a message and tap the arrow to the far right of the text-entry field to post it

    A Messenger app chat screen on iPad

    This basic message format is sufficient for many people, but there are enhancements you can send in addition to your message.

  3. Tap one of the icons under the message-input field to add a picture, insert a video, record a voice message, and send a location, among other options.

    Tap the smiley face in the text-input field to add a sticker, GIF, or emoji to the message.

  4. If the addition doesn't send automatically, tap the arrow to send it.

Starting a Message With Someone New

If you've been active sending messages in the web version of Facebook, your messaging history appears in the Messenger app. If you don't see the name of someone you want to message, tap the pencil and paper icon above the left panel.

In the To field of the New Message screen, start typing a Facebook member's name and select the correct person from the search results. After you send a message, that person's name and icon appear in the left panel along with all the other Facebook members you've messaged.

Messenger app New Message screen for locating other Facebook members

You can message any Facebook member. The recipient doesn't have to be one of your Facebook friends.

What Else Can Messenger Do?

Don't overlook the phone receiver and video camera icons in the top right corner of the Messenger screen. Use these to instigate free voice or video calls with anyone in your contacts list who is online — indicated by the green circle. You'll need to give the app permission to access your camera and microphone the first time you use these features, but after that, the experience is seamless.

Why Facebook Split Messages and Facebook

According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook created a separate Messages app to deliver a better experience for its customers. It seems more likely that Facebook wanted to streamline the messaging service in hopes that people would choose to use it over text messaging. The more people become dependent on the Messenger app, the more they are dependent on Facebook, and the more likely they are to keep using it.