Facebook Messenger: Everything You Need to Know

Text, call, share pictures and videos, send money, and play games

Messenger, an instant messaging service owned by Facebook, launched in August 2011, replacing Facebook Chat. You don't need a Facebook account to use it, so it's available for individuals who haven't signed up or have closed down their accounts. While the two are partially connected when you have a Facebook account, you aren't required to have one.

Person using Facebook Messenger on a smartphone
Bailey Mariner / Lifewire

How to Access Facebook Messenger

Messenger can be used in conjunction with Facebook on your computer, at Messenger.com, or by accessing the mobile app on Android and iOS devices. Because Messenger works on iPhones, it also works on the Apple Watch.

You can also install add-ons in some browsers for faster access to Messenger. They're not official Facebook apps. They're third-party extensions that non-Facebook developers released for free. For example, Firefox users can install the Messenger for Facebook add-on to put Messenger on the side of their screens and use it while on other websites, in a split-screen fashion.

Send Text, Pictures, and Video

At its core, Messenger is a texting app for both one-on-one and group messaging, but it can also send images and video. It also includes lots of built-in emojis, stickers, and GIFs.

Some useful features included in Messenger is its indicator to see when a person is typing, delivered receipts, read receipts, and a timestamp for when the message was sent, with another for when the recipient read the most recent one.

Much like on Facebook, Messenger lets you react to messages on both the website and app.

Another great thing about sharing images and videos through Messenger is that the app and website collect all the media files so you can quickly sift through them.

If you're using Messenger with your Facebook account, any private Facebook message appears in it. You can delete these texts as well as archive and unarchive them to hide or unhide them from constant view.

Facebook added the ability to swipe to archive chats quickly in May 2021. You can also find your archived conversations by going to your profile > Archived chats.

Make Voice or Video Calls

Messenger also supports audio and video calls from the mobile app, the desktop version, and the Facebook site. The phone icon is for audio calls, while the camera icon makes face-to-face video calls. If you're using Messenger's calling features on Wi-Fi, you can use the app or website to make free internet calls.

Send Money

Messenger functions as a simple way to send money to people using just your debit card information. You can do this from both the website and the mobile app.

A Facebook Messenger user sets up a payment using Facebook Pay

To use it, go into a conversation, open the menu, then select Send Money. You can choose to either send money or ask for it. Alternatively, you can send a text with a price in it and then select it to open the prompt to pay or request payment. You can even add a short memo to the transaction so you can remember its purpose.

Play Games

Messenger lets you play games within the app or via the website, even while in a group message. You don't have to download another app or visit another site to start playing with other Messenger users.

Share Your Location

Instead of using a dedicated app to show someone where you are, you can let recipients follow your location for up to an hour with Messenger's built-in location-sharing feature, which only works from the mobile app.

Facebook Messenger Features

Although Messenger doesn't have a calendar, it does let you create event reminders through the Reminders button on the mobile app. Another neat way to do it is to send a message that contains a reference to a day, and the app automatically asks you if you want to make a reminder. Like many other apps, Facebook Messenger has a dark mode.

The name of a group message can be customized, as can the nickname of the people involved. The color theme of each conversation thread can be modified as well.

Audio clips can be sent through Messenger if you'd like to send a message without having to text or make a full audio call. You can even tap-and-record when creating it instead of holding your finger down on the mic icon if you want to go hands-free.

Notifications can be silenced on a per-conversation basis for a specified number of hours or completely turned off, both for the desktop version of Messenger and through the mobile app.

Add new Messenger contacts by inviting contacts from your phone or, if you're on Facebook, your Facebook friends. There's also a custom Scan Code you can grab from within the app and share with others, who can then scan your code to add you to their Messenger instantly.

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