How to Use Facebook Chat

 Facebook Chat has gone through many changes since it first debuted in 2008. From a once pared down web-based instant messaging client, the social network's IM feature now boasts Skype-powered video chat, delivery receipt, and automatic chat history.

In this guide, we will explore how to get started on Facebook Chat and how to use each of the features so you can get the most out of your social networking experience.

One thing which remains the same: the location of your buddy list. To begin exploring the IM client, click the tab in the bottom right-hand corner to get started.

of 10

Explore the Facebook Chat Contacts List

Facebook Chat Buddy List

The Facebook Chat buddy list serves as the nerve center for instant messaging communications on the social network. In addition to displaying online friends ready to chat, whether an IM or video chat, the contacts list is also where you can access a myriad of controls and settings to personalize the experience as you see fit.

We will explore the Facebook Chat buddy list together, moving counter-clockwise around the illustrated guide above:

  1. Activity Feed: Above your contacts, you will notice a continuously updated feed of activity and information from your friends on the Facebook social network. Clicking on entries will allow you to comment on photos, Wall posts and more without leaving your current page.
  2. Buddy List: Below the Activity feed, your contacts are organized into two different categories, including most recent and often contacted friends on top and "More Online Friends," or people you have not sent and IM to recently.
  3. Search: Typing in the name of a Facebook contact in the search field, located in the lower-left corner, will help you find your friends faster. This is helpful for members with hundreds or even thousands of friends.
  4. Settings: Under the cogwheel icon, you will find your Facebook Chat sound settings, the ability to block specific people and groups, and an option to log off Facebook Chat.
  5. Collapse Sidebar: Pressing this icon will shrink your buddy list and activity feed down to the tab illustrated on the first page of this article.
  6. Availability Icons: Facebook designates online friends with one of two icons, the green dot, which shows a user is online on their PC and able to receive an instant message; and the mobile phone icon, signifying the user is able to chat from their mobile device.
of 10

How to Send IMs on Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat instant message

Sending an instant message with Facebook Chat is simple, and takes just three steps to get started. First, open your buddy list if you have not already done so, and locate a friend you wish to send an instant message. Next, a window will appear (like the window illustrated in the screenshot above). Enter your text in the field provided at the bottom of the screen, and click Enter on your keyboard to send.

of 10

How to Use Emoticons on Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat emoticons

Facebook Chat instant messages can also include more than just text. With nearly two dozen Facebook emoticons to choose from, these graphical smileys are a great way to dress up your messages. To add an emoticon, type in the keystrokes necessary to enable an emoticon or click the menu in the lower right corner and click on the icon you wish to use.

of 10

How to Group Chat on Facebook

Facebook Chat Group Chat

Facebook Chat also supports group chats using the same instant messaging windows you use to chat with a single social networking friend. Here's how to enable a group chat:

  1. Start a Facebook Chat conversation with any person on your buddy list you wish to include in your group chat.
  2. Click the cogwheel icon, located in the upper right corner of the window.
  3. Select Add Friends to Chat from the drop-down menu.
  4. In the field provided (as illustrated in the screenshot above), enter the names of your friends you wish to add to your group chat.
  5. Click the blue Done button to begin.

Once group chat is enabled, you can send an instant message to multiple users at once.

of 10

How to Make Video Calls on Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat video calls

Facebook Chat video calls, powered by Skype, is a free feature that allows friends on the social network to contact each other with their webcams and microphones. Ensure these peripherals are connected and in good working order, and then follow these instructions to launch a video chat on your Facebook account:

  1. Click on your friend's name on your buddy list.
  2. Click the camera icon in the upper right corner of the IM window.
  3. The video calling feature will enable, dialing your friend.
  4. Wait as your contact decided to accept or reject the call.

If a Facebook contact is not available to receive the call, a note will be added to an instant message letting them know you attempted to video call them.

of 10

How to Block a Facebook Chat Contact

How to block a Facebook Chat contact

Blocking Facebook Chat contacts is sometimes necessary, especially if someone becomes increasingly intrusive or distracts from your social networking time. Fortunately, you can block a single contact in just a few easy steps:

  1. Click on the offending contact's name on your buddy list.
  2. Select the cogwheel icon in the upper right corner of the instant messaging window.
  3. Select Go Offline to [Name].

Once enabled, this contact will not see you as online and will thus be prevented from sending you an instant message. Please note, however, this contact will still be able to send you messages to your Facebook Messages inbox.

of 10

How to Block Groups of People on Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat block

Blocking groups of people from Facebook Chat is also easy to do and takes just a few moments of your time. Here is how to choose the people and groups you wish to block from contacting you:

  1. Open the Facebook Chat buddy list/sidebar, if you haven't already.
  2. Press the cogwheel icon in the lower right corner of the buddy list.
  3. Select Advanced Settings.
  4. A pop-up window will appear, prompting you to enter the names of the people you wish to block from sending you instant messages, in the first field provided.
  5. Click the blue Save button in the lower right corner to enable these elections.

You can also choose to define the few people you wish to allow to send you IM and video call requests by clicking the second radio button, and entering these people in the text field provided.

A third option includes clicking the last radio button, preventing receipt of all instant messages and taking you offline on Facebook Chat.

of 10

Minimize the Facebook Chat Buddy List

Collapse Facebook Chat, Minimize Buddy List

Sometimes, Facebook Chat's massive activity feed and buddy list sidebar can get in the way of browsing the social network, especially if you re-size your web browser window. To collapse the sidebar, click the icon in the lower right-most corner to minimize the buddy list to a tab on the bottom of the screen.

To maximize the buddy list, simply click the tab and the sidebar will return nested to the right of the screen.

of 10

How to Access Your Facebook Chat History

Facebook Chat History

Facebook Chat history is automatically recorded for every conversation you have on the social network and stored directly in your Messages inbox. Accessing your Facebook Chat history can be performed two different ways:

How to Access Facebook Chat History While Instant Messaging

  1. Click the cogwheel icon in the top right corner of the IM window.
  2. Select See Full Conversation.
  3. View the entire chat history in your Messages inbox.

Access Facebook Chat History in Your Inbox

  1. Open your inbox.
  2. Enter your contact's name in the search field in the upper right corner of your inbox.
  3. Select resulting entries to view past conversations.
of 10

Turn off Facebook Chat Sounds

Facebook Chat Sounds

Whenever you receive an instant message on Facebook Chat, a sound is emitted. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you are when you are sending and receiving IMs. Fortunately, enabling and disabling the sounds can be done with just a click. Locate the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the buddy list, and click Chat Sounds.

When a checkmark appears next to this option, you have enabled sounds. To disable, click and remove the checkmark.