How to Set up a Facebook Account and Secure Your Profile

Find the right cover photo and identify who can see your updates

An image of a Facebook profile on a smartphone screen.

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Facebook is the world's largest social network, with billions of active users. Whether you're new to Facebook or looking to spruce up your profile, there are several timeline features and privacy settings available.

If you're signing up for a new Facebook account, you'll need to provide a valid phone number. Facebook will send a verification code to you by text message, which you'll need to enter into Facebook to complete the sign-up process. You can have multiple Facebook accounts associated with the same phone number.

You can set up your profile timeline both from the web and from the Facebook apps for iOS and Android. The following instructions include steps for both, using screenshots from the iOS app version.

Android app users should be able to follow along with no problem, although there might be a few slight differences. For instance, while the main menu has the same options on both apps, on iOS, it's at the bottom of the screen, and on Android, it's up top.

How to Add a Facebook Profile Picture

  1. Sign into Facebook.

  2. Navigate to your profile by selecting your name on the web or tapping the profile icon in the app menu.

  3. Click or tap the big round profile picture to upload one.

    A screenshot of a Facebook profile.

    On the web, a window will appear where you'll be able to select + Upload Photo to choose an image file from your computer. On the app, a menu will slide up where you'll be able to tap Select Profile Picture or Video to choose a photo from your device.

    If you're on the app, you might need to select Allow Access to allow Facebook to access your device's photos.

  4. Select the photo you want to use and then if you want, hit the Edit button to crop or add frames to customize its look. Then hit Save.

    Select the Make Temporary button to make this photo your profile picture for just one hour, one day, one week or a custom timeframe.

  5. Select your new profile picture from your profile to view it (you'll need to tap View Profile Picture on the app). Then click or tap the globe icon beneath your name to customize its visibility. You can choose Friends, Friends except..., Friends of friends or Specific friends.

    Changing post privacy settings on Facebook.com

How to Add a Facebook Cover Photo

  1. On your profile on the web, use your cursor to hover over the top right and select Add / Update Cover Photo. On the app, tap Edit in the bottom right of the cover photo area.

    Adding a cover photo on facebook.com
  2. On the web, select Upload Photo from the dropdown list to choose an image file from your computer. On the app, tap Select Profile Picture or Video from the menu that slides up.

    If you don't have a photo for your cover photo, click or tap Select Artwork to view Facebook's cover photo library. You can also select Create Collage to combine several of your pictures into one.

  3. Use your cursor (web) or your finger (app) to drag the photo up or down in the cover photo area to center it the way you want. Then hit Save Changes.

    The ideal Facebook cover photo should be 820 by 312 pixels for viewing on a desktop computer, and 640 by 360 pixels for viewing on the mobile app.

  4. You can't customize the visibility of your cover photos because cover photos are always public. So either use a picture you don't mind sharing with the world or delete it. On the web go to: Update Cover Photo > Remove... > Confirm. On the app tap Edit > three dots > Delete Photo.

How to Add Profile Info to a Facebook Account

  1. Navigate to your profile and select Edit Profile.

    Editing biographical information on Facebook.com
  2. Click inside the Edit Bio field on the web or tap Add underneath Edit Bio on the app to type out a short bio that will appear beneath your name on your profile.

    Your bio can only be a maximum of 101 characters.

  3. If you're on the app, tap Edit under the Details section to quickly add information like where you live, your workplace, education, hometown, relationship status and more.

    This method is a faster app-only option if you don't want to go all the way to step six.

  4. On the web and app, go to Edit Featured to create a thumbnail grid of up to nine photos.

  5. On the app, you can tap Add beneath the Pages You Manage section to add any Facebook Pages where you have an admin role.

    This option does not appear to be available on the web version.

  6. On the web and app, hit Edit Your About Info to go to your About page and add information for each section. Once added, you can use the Edit button (web) or pencil icon (app) to customize its visibility.

Secure Your Facebook Account and Manage Privacy

  1. On the web, select the down arrow in the top right corner followed by Settings from the dropdown list. On the app, select the menu icon from the main menu, scroll down the list and tap Settings & Privacy.

  2. On the web, select Security & Login in the left sidebar to set up two-factor authentication and take more security precautions. Then select Privacy in the left sidebar to set the visibility for your activity and how people find you or contact you—by selecting Edit beside each option.

    Modifying your privacy settings on facebook.com
  3. On the app, select Settings and then tap any of the options under the Security section to secure your account. Do the same in the Privacy section to change the privacy or visibility of certain information.

When you post a status update, click or tap the visibility button in the status update composer to indicate who can see it. If you don't want it to be public, select Friends, Friends except..., Only Me or even a custom friend list.