WhatsApp is the most popular instant messenger for smartphones and tablets. As you probably know, it has a web interface version available for desktop users. However, the developer has recently released a desktop counterpart for Windows users.

It has similar features to the web UI, including desktop notifications that aren’t supported by all web browsers (such as Internet Explorer). The most important part is that WhatsApp can be used independently of the web browser, eliminating the risk of hanging or crashing.

Getting started

Connect your smartphone and computer to a wireless network connection. Otherwise, you can use 3G if you’re comfortable with it.

WhatsApp is compatible with Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, BlackBerry 10, and Nokia 560. Depending on your device type, follow the instructions provided by the desktop client at startup to click WhatsApp Web on your phone and scan the QR code on your monitor to automatically log with your account without going to the trouble of entering your phone number and confirming with an SMS code.

How to start chats, send files, and find out when messages were read

Once logged in, you can view a list of all your started conversations, along with a Search or start new chat box above this area to quickly track down a person if you have a huge list of ongoing chats.

Select a contact, Type a message on the bottom side of the window, and press Enter to send it. Click the smiley icon on the left of Type a message to open an area with a long range of emoticons to send, sorted in categories: Smileys & People, Animals & Nature, Food & Drink, Activity, Travel & Places, Objects, Symbols, and Flags.

If you have a microphone, click the mic icon on the right of Type a message to record your voice and send it right away.

Click the paperclip button on the upper-right part of the conversation window to display three additional buttons for sending files with Photos & Videos from your hard drive, take a photo on the spot and send it right away using your Camera (if any), or to send a Document.

Sent messages that haven’t been received yet (e.g. the other person’s WhatsApp isn’t connected to the Internet) are marked by a single grey tick while received but unread ones are labeled by two grey ticks. If the other person has read the message, the two grey ticks become blue. Click the small arrow that appears when hovering the mouse over a message to open a menu, click Message info and find out when the message was Delivered and Read.

How to view contact details and delete or forward multiple messages

Click the … button near the paperclip to open a menu and view Contact info (profile photo, Status, Phone number), Mute the chat to stop receiving notifications for 8 Hours, 1 Week or 1 Year (select the preferred option and click Ok), Clear Messages (empties the chat but doesn’t delete it), and Delete Chat (removes the conversation from the list and clears all messages).

Click Select Messages from the same menu to display checkboxes next to each message and tick the ones you want to Delete (trash can icon on the bottom-right corner) or Forward to another person or group (the button with the arrow pointing right, next to the trash can). If you change your mind, exit multiple selection mode by clicking the X button on the left side.

Move the mouse pointer over a conversation in the list on the left to display a small arrow pointing down. Click it (or right-click anywhere on the entry) to open a menu and Archive chat if you don’t want to see it anymore but don’t want to delete it either (more on that later), Mute the conversation, Delete Chat, or Mark as Unread.

How to change your photo and status, create groups, and log out

Above the Search or start new chat box on the left are your profile photo, a + sign, and button. Click the first button to open Profile & status, change your photo by taking a new one on the spot using your camera or by uploading an image from your PC (or just remove it and leave the spot empty), as well as edit your Status by clicking the pencil button (emoticons can be added too).

Click the + sign to start a new Chat by scrolling your list of contacts who also use WhatsApp (names and phone numbers are taken from your address book). Above the list is a box to help Search contacts more easily.

Click the button to create a New group by entering a subject, adding an icon (image from the computer) and selecting the contacts you’d like to join and broadcast messages to. Also, you can view your Archived chats, access Settings, or Log out from the current device to prevent someone else from taking over your WhatsApp account if you don’t take your smartphone out of range.

Desktop notifications, settings and blocked contacts

If someone sends you a message while you’re working on something else (the WhatsApp window is not in focus or minimized to the taskbar), then desktop notifications appear from the lower-right corner of the screen, showing the text, while the taskbar icon indicates the number of unread messages in red.

In Settings, you can control Notifications by disabling Sounds and Desktop Alerts, or keep Desktop Alerts enabled but disable Show Previews (view the message text in desktop alerts). Simply clear their boxes to deactivate these options. It’s also possible to Turn off alerts and sounds for 1 Hour, 1 Day or 1 Week (similar to Mute but applies to all contacts and groups).

If a person you don’t want to talk to keeps bothering you with calls or messages, click Blocked in Settings, Add blocked contact, and the contact from the list. They will be immediately added to this ignore list. If you change your mind about someone, click the X next to their entry to exclude them from the Blocked contacts list (and Unblock in the popup message for confirmation). Open the View menu to Zoom In and get a better view of everything.

To see how the desktop version of WhatsApp looks and feels, play our video guide below. You can also download WhatsApp for Windows to test it for yourself.

WhatsApp Explained: Usage, Video and Download

WhatsApp doesn’t have only a web interface but also a desktop client for Windows users with similar options (+desktop notifications if your browser doesn’t support it). Check out our video and article to see how it looks and what it can do: http://www.softpedia.com/blog/whatsapp-explained-usage-video-and-download-504192.shtml

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