For over a billion people globally, WhatsApp is one of the most valuable apps on the market.
It has made it easy to communicate with loved ones around the world, it is an instant service that requires an internet connection and there is no sign up fee or ongoing associated cost.
On the surface, the basic functions are incredibly easy to use. It is precisely for this reason that it is widely used.
But there are more uses than initially meet the eye.
Here, MailOnline outlines some of the best hacks to maximize your WhatsApp experience.
1. Pinning important friends and group chats
For those of us notorious for leaving messages unanswered a little too long to warrant a reply, WhatsApp has a feature that can come in handy.
It’s possible to pin certain chats to the top of the app, meaning new and unread messages are the first you’ll see.
To do this:
iOS: Swipe left to right, tap ‘Pin Chat’
Android: Long hold a chat, tap the pin at the top of the screen
2. Reading messages in ‘Super Stealth Mode’
There are a few different techniques used to avoid letting the person on the other end of the message know that you’ve seen what they sent.
One such option is to hold down a message when it appears on the locked iPhone screen. Doing so will pull up a preview of the full text, allowing you to read the message without opening it.
3. Speeding up voice message playback
If you struggle to hear voice notes, this is the trick for you.
WhatsApp gives you the option to speed up the playback of the voice message you receive by 1.5x or 2x.
Doing so does not change the volume or tone of the person’s voice, just the speed.
This can be achieved by accessing a specific chat, tap the play icon next to the message, tap the 1x icon that appears until it gradually increases. If you tap it multiple times, it will return to normal speed.
4. Backing up conversations to email
WhatsApp offers a feature to backup conversations by sending them directly to an email address.
To do this, open the chat you’re trying to save, click Options, then click More and then ‘Email Chat’.
Up to 40,000 messages can be sent from the chat at any time, with or without media files.
5. Changing WhatsApp Wallpaper
WhatsApp gives all users a standard background wallpaper for every chat.
To customize it, there are two options.
The first is to change the wallpaper for all your chats via Settings, Chats, ‘Chat Wallpaper’ and then choose the option to allow a solid color or a photo from your own library.
Alternatively, to change the wallpaper for a specific chat, click on the conversation you want to change, tap the ‘Wallpaper & Sound’ icon, then tap the ‘Change’ or ‘Choose new wallpaper’ options.
6. Bookmarking important messages
A ‘star’ message function allows users to bookmark important messages that they are likely to return to.
This saves the process of searching using key words.
iOS: Starred messages can be found through the Settings function
Android: Tap ‘More options’ and then ‘Starred messages’
7. Recording hands-free voice messages
While many people use the Voice Notes app, few people realize that there is a way to record a voice message hands-free.
To do this, users need to hold the microphone icon and swipe up, which essentially ‘locks’ the recording function.
Once done, the user has to press send.
8. Knowing exactly when your message has been read
While gray ticks are known to mean delivered and blue is the average reading, there is a lesser known function that gives the exact timestamp when a message was opened.
To access it, open any chat, tap and hold the message you’ve sent, and then press the info or ‘i’ button from the action bar at the top of the phone. It should bring specific information.
9. Hiding notifications from your lock screen
Preventing notifications from popping up when the phone is locked means that someone else isn’t likely to stumble across a message you haven’t read yet.
In the settings section of the app, there is an option to toggle off notifications completely.
10. Turning off message previews
In some cases, you may still want to be alerted that someone has sent you a message, but don’t want the entire message to appear on your lock screen.
To achieve this, follow the steps above, but instead of toggling notifications, toggle notification previews.
11. Sending your location to the contact
You can ‘drop’ your location in a message to a friend, allowing them to track your phone through the app.
There are three periods to choose from; 15 minutes, an hour or eight hours.
iOS: Tap on a specific chat, tap the + button to the left, tap ‘Location’ then ‘Share Live Location’ and select your session
Android: Tap on a specific chat, tap the paperclip image to the right, tap ‘Location’ then ‘Share Live Location’ and select your session
12. Instantly delete photos, GIFS or messages from a particular chat
It is possible to quickly and easily delete different types of media from specific chats.
For example, you can remove all images but keep all text messages and vice versa.
To do so, access Settings followed by the Storage and data option, click ‘Manage storage’, then ‘Select connection’, ‘Manage’, ‘Select’, and then tick the boxes for each media you want to delete. To finalize, tap the bin icon.
13. Hiding chats from your conversation list
There are times when you’re sick of seeing a conversation in your message history, but you’re not ready to delete the thread entirely. The ‘hide’ function comes in handy after a drunken text or a particularly embarrassing faux pas.
If you tap and hold a chat, you’ll be given an option to ‘Archive’ in the top right corner of the app.
To find archived messages again, scroll to the bottom of all your chats and click the ‘Archived Chats’ button.
14. Sending a disappearing picture or video
Just like SnapChat and Instagram, it’s possible to send a picture or video that disappears once viewed.
This is especially useful for sending sensitive or private information, although it is noted that the recipient can still take a screenshot.
iOS: Open a chat, tap the + icon, select a photo, tap the ‘1’ next to the blue send arrow, and send
Android: Open a chat, tap the paperclip icon, select a photo, tap the ‘1’ next to the blue send arrow and send
15. Face ID or Touch ID is required to unlock WhatsApp
This trick is currently only available to iOS users, but adds depth and an extra layer of security to protect your messages.
When this feature is turned on, Face ID or Touch ID is required to access messages, even on an already unlocked phone.
This can be achieved through the Settings button, then go to Account, Privacy, Screen Lock and then toggle on the ‘Require Face ID’ button.
It can be turned on immediately, after a minute, after 15 minutes or after an hour of non-use.
16. Minimizing Usage Data
There is a trick to reduce data usage through the WhatsApp settings page.
This can be achieved by accessing Settings, Data Usage, Call Settings and finally ticking the option that says ‘Low Data Usage’.
17. Turning on disappearing messages
Disappearing messages erase your history with the contact after 24 hours, seven days, or 90 days.
The function can be used for specific chats, however this is not foolproof, as messages can be saved elsewhere.
To use disappearing messages in specific chats, open the conversation you’re interested in turning it on, click on the person’s name at the top and select the ‘Disappearing Messages’ option. Select a time period.
For all chats, the function can be turned on in Settings by visiting the Account section, Privacy and then the ‘Default Message Timer’ option. Again, select a specific time period.
18. Staying online even when away from the phone
WhatsApp has a web browser that allows users to log in on a computer and use the service as usual.
In situations where phones are prohibited or frowned upon – such as in a classroom or work environment – it offers an alternative solution for responding to messages in a timely manner.
19. Hiding blue ticks
WhatsApp allows users to switch off the blue tick feature if you want to avoid letting people know that you have opened their message.
However, in doing so, you prevent yourself from seeing when people read your messages in return.
To do this, iOS and Android users access their settings, click on the Account tab after Privacy and select ‘Toggle off read receipts’ or ‘Untick read receipts’.
20. Making words bold, italic or strikethrough
To give more emphasis to certain words, WhatsApp users have the option to italicize, bold or strike through their messages.
To make a word bold, add an asterisk
on either side of it.
To italicize, add an underscore (_) to either side of a word or phrase.
To strikethrough, add tildes (~) to either side of a word or phrase.
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