Email, Messaging, & Video Calls Texting & Messaging WhatsApp: Send Video Messages and Texts for Free Here's what you need to know to get started By Gretchen Siegchrist Writer Gretchen Siegchrist is a professional videographer who enjoys helping amateurs master the basics of desktop video. our editorial process Gretchen Siegchrist Updated February 26, 2020 Texting & Messaging Email Texting & Messaging Video Calls Tweet Share Email WhatsApp provides an alternative way to send text and multimedia messages to your friends and family online. Owned by Facebook, the app sends text, picture, and video messages to anyone anywhere for free. It's available on iOS and Android. There's also a desktop version, but it's missing some notable features, including the ability to make calls. Here's what you need to know to get started. Get Started With WhatsApp You can download WhatsApp in your mobile device's app store. After it installs, the app asks if you want to receive notifications each time you receive a message. Choose yes or no, depending on your preferences. Next, allow WhatsApp to sync your contacts. This lets you send messages to everyone you know through the WhatsApp interface. There are ways to block and unblock contacts. After that, confirm your country and phone number. Then, WhatsApp sends you an SMS message with a confirmation code. Enter that code into WhatsApp. That's it; you're ready to send multimedia messages. You must be able to receive phone calls and SMS to the phone number you're verifying. The WhatsApp Layout WhatsApp integrates its layout with the phone's operating system. The top contains tabs for the Camera, Chats, Status, and Calls. A search bar is above that, along with the More (three dots) menu icon, where you'll find additional settings and features. Christian Wiediger / Unsplash The WhatsApp interface is straightforward. Use the Status section to create a custom message that tells your friends whether you're available to chat. The Chat section is where you start conversations with contacts. The Calls tab shows your call history and starts a new call. You can find additional options for each tab in the More menu. For example, the More menu under the Chats tab starts a new broadcast, starts a new group, and more. The same menu under the Status tab changes your status privacy. While in the Settings menu, Data and Storage Usage shows how many kilobytes of data you used, so you don't use too much of your data plan. You can reset this counter manually based on your phone's billing cycle to make sure you're up to date. Send a Video Message To send a new video message, go to the Chats tab, tap the green button, then choose a contact. This opens a new chat window where you can type messages. If you want to send a video, tap the Camera icon in the message field. This takes you to your camera so you can record a message. Hold the shutter button to record a video. Tap it to take a photo. S3studio / Getty Images WhatsApp limits recording time to 45 seconds. This keeps data usage down while sending video messages within a reasonable amount of time. After recording, you can preview the video, then choose to use it or retake it. When you select Use, WhatsApp automatically sends your video. To send a video you recorded, swipe up while inside the Camera to access your gallery. WhatsApp compresses video before sending it. If your video is longer than 45 seconds, WhatsApp asks you to choose which section of the video you want to send. Then, it sends your video message. Whether you use Wi-Fi or your data plan, be prepared to wait. Sending video requires a large data transfer.