How to Use WhatsApp on Your Computer

Chat on your PC or Mac in the web and desktop versions of WhatsApp

What to Know

  • WhatsApp on the computer is available via the web or using an app for Windows or macOS.
  • You can sync WhatsApp on the computer with your mobile device as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi.
  • Some options are limited on WhatsApp on the computer or from the web interface.

There's a free web client that makes it possible to access WhatsApp on a computer from a web browser. There's also a standalone WhatsApp desktop client for Windows and Mac.

Instructions in this article apply to WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop available for Mac OS X 10.9 and up and Windows 8 and newer.

WhatsApp Web Vs. WhatsApp Desktop

WhatsApp Desktop is a robust program made for users accustomed to using WhatsApp. It supports keyboard shortcuts while chatting, and notifications can be sent directly to your desktop.

WhatsApp Web is easier if you're new to the program. All you have to do is log in to the WhatsApp website from any browser. Your messages instantly appear no matter which computer you use, where it is, and whether it's public or private. Both versions of WhatsApp let you send pictures and other types of files just like the mobile version.

WhatsApp can accomodate up to 8 users. If you need to include more people, look at Zoom can handle up to 1,000 participants at a time. Skype has a 50-person limit, Google Hangouts allows up to 10 (or 25 if you're a paid business user), and Facebook Rooms allows 50 people at a time. None of these competitors, however, offer end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp does.

How to Use WhatsApp From a Computer

If you don't have the mobile app, download it on your phone before setting up WhatsApp on your computer. Once you've done that, visit WhatsApp Web, or download the desktop program from the WhatsApp download page. In the desktop version, select the download link that corresponds with your computer operating system (Windows or Mac).

Download the WhatsApp desktop program for PC or Mac from the WhatsApp download page.

Once opened, the process for setting up the WhatsApp desktop program and web client interface is the same:

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone.

  2. Tap the Chats tab, then tap the three vertical dots to open a drop-down menu.

  3. Tap WhatsApp Web.

    WhatsApp Web in the WhatsApp app on an Android phone
  4. Hold your phone up to the computer screen to scan the QR Code displayed on the desktop or web client.

    Hold your phone up to the computer screen to scan the QR Code displayed on the desktop/web client.
  5. The WhatsApp client opens immediately and shows the messages you have on your phone. Close WhatsApp on your phone and use it from your computer.

    The WhatsApp web client running in Chrome on Windows

Your phone must remain connected to the internet while you use the WhatsApp web client. The application syncs directly with your mobile device, so a Wi-Fi connection is necessary to avoid data charges.

WhatsApp Desktop and Web Features

The web and desktop versions of WhatsApp allow you to browse your hard drive for photos, videos, and documents that you can send through the chat interface. If your computer has a webcam, you can access it directly in the interface to take a photo that you can send in chat. Select the paperclip in the upper-right corner of the chat window to reveal a drop-down menu.

Another feature unique to WhatsApp Desktop is voice messages. Start a recording by selecting the microphone in the lower-right corner of the interface.

Paperclip button in WhatsApp on a computer

Limitations of WhatsApp Desktop and Web

A few WhatsApp features that are available on a mobile device are not available on a computer. For example, the desktop version doesn't have the option to invite people from your address book to join WhatsApp. In addition, you can’t share your location or a map.

Also, you can have either WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop open at any given time, but having both open automatically shuts down the program that's not currently in use.