How to Use WhatsApp on Android

A guide to the basics of this popular messaging app

As one of the most popular instant messaging apps, WhatsApp is well worth having on your Android phone so you can chat with friends and family whenever you want. Of course, it's important to know how to use the app properly so you get the most from it. Here's how to use WhatsApp to send and receive messages. 

How to Set Up WhatsApp on Android

Setting up WhatsApp only takes a few minutes and the best part is you never have to set it up again. There's no need to register an account or log in. You simply enter your phone number, verify it, and you're good to go. Here's how to get all set up with WhatsApp.

Before you get started, you'll need to download WhatsApp from the Google Play Store. Then, the first time you open WhatsApp you'll need to do a few things to get it setup.

  1. Open WhatsApp on your Android device.

  2. In the notification that appears, tap Agree and Continue

  3. Enter your mobile phone number, then tap Next.

  4. Wait for the verification SMS to arrive and enter the 6 digit code you're sent.

  5. Type your name into the WhatsApp profile. 

    Steps for setting up WhatsApp on Android smartphones

    You can also choose to add a profile picture to go alongside it.


  6. You're all set up and ready to use WhatsApp to message people. 

How to Start Chatting With Someone on WhatsApp

To start messaging someone on WhatsApp is as easy as finding them on your contacts list. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Tap the green chat icon in the bottom right hand side of the screen.

  2. Tap the name of the person you want to message.

  3. Type a message to them, then tap the green arrow to send it.

    Steps for messaging someone on WhatsApp

You can also send "view once" messages that disappear as soon as the recipient opens them, similarly to how things work on Snapchat. Use this feature to transmit secure, self-destructing text and photos that remain encrypted end-to-end, so only you and the recipients can read or see them, with the following restrictions:

  • You can't forward, share, star, or save view once messages.
  • Unopened view once messages expire two weeks after sending if the recipient doesn't open them.
  • You have to select the option each time you want to use it; that is, you can't toggle it on and send everything as view once.

How to Change Your Status on WhatsApp

Kind of like status updates on Facebook or stories on Instagram, you can share your status on WhatsApp and give people a little insight into your current mood. Alternatively, you can use it to share a favorite quote or song lyric. Here's how.

  1. On the main WhatsApp screen, tap Status.

  2. Tap My Status.

  3. Tap the pencil to enter a status.

    Steps for changing your WhatsApp status

    Alternatively, you can tap the camera icon to send a photo.

How to Send Files on WhatsApp

Want to send a friend a file, photo, or even your location on WhatsApp?

While you have a chat window open, tap the paperclip in the message bar. A new dialog appears, allowing you to send a document from your Android phone, an audio clip, contact details, or your location. 

Steps for sending a file to someone on WhatsApp

You can also tap Camera to take a photo directly through the app.

How to Add Filters to Your Photos in WhatsApp

It's possible to take a photo from within WhatsApp and add extra details and filters to them. Here's how.

  1. Tap the shutter icon to take the photo. 

    If you hold your finger to the shutter, WhatsApp takes a video instead. 

  2. Once the photo is taken, you're presented with a series of filters to choose from. Tap the one you prefer.

  3. Choose to add a caption, then tap the arrow to send the photo and message. 

    Steps for adding a filter to a WhatsApp photo

How to Send GIFs on WhatsApp

Messaging on WhatsApp isn't just about sending text messages to your friends. It's also fun to send GIFs to convey how you feel about something. Here's how to find the GIF options.

  1. From an open chat window, tap the smiley emoji icon to the left.

  2. Tap GIF underneath the emojis listed. 

  3. Tap a GIF to add it to the message box.

  4. Tap the green arrow to send it.

    Steps for sending a GIF on WhatsApp

What Do the Ticks on WhatsApp Messages Mean?

One of the first things you'll notice when exchanging messages is that there are little ticks near them. It's useful to know what each of them means.

  • One tick: This tick is always grey. It means that your message has been sent but it remains on the WhatsApp servers rather than sent to your contact. It typically happens when their phone is switched off or has no signal.
  • Two grey ticks: Your message has been sent and has been received by your contact, but they haven't read it yet. It can also happen if your contact has read receipts switched off.
  • Two blue ticks: Your message has been sent, received, and read by your contact. 
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