Are you making the most out of WhatsApp? Here's how you can use it even better

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WhatsApp has introduced a range of interesting features over the past years, the newest being disappearing messages. (Photo: Gallo Images/Alamy)
WhatsApp has introduced a range of interesting features over the past years, the newest being disappearing messages. (Photo: Gallo Images/Alamy)

You know something has pretty much become an essential part of life when it becomes a verb. And these days you’re quite likely to hear “WhatsApp me” instead of  “send me a WhatsApp message”, cementing the messaging app’s status as a tech must-have.  

About two billion users send about 100 billion messages daily on WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.  

That’s a lot of messages and Whats­App’s latest nifty feature is partially aimed at reducing the number of missives that remain on your phone. 

About two billion users send about 100 billion mes
About two billion users send about 100 billion messages daily on WhatsApp. (Photo: Gallo Images/Alamy)
Messages sent using the new “disappearing message” feature will disappear after seven days. Rivals like Snapchat have long had this feature and the company says it’s designed to make chats feel more natural.   

“Our goal is to make conversations on WhatsApp feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn’t have to stick around forever,” the company wrote in a blog post ahead of the launch.  

Here’s a look at the nifty new feature – plus plenty of others you may not have known about.  

DISAPPEARING MESSAGES 

Find the person you want to chat to and tap on their name at the top of the screen.  

Scroll down and select the Disappearing messages option and select On.  

A clock icon will appear next to each contact’s profile picture.  

You’ll need to do it with individual contacts if you want it for more than one person.  

If you back up messages in services like iCloud or Google Drive, the messages will back up there.  

The same applies if your phone automatically saves media to the camera roll. Change this on Android by going to Settings>Chats and disable media visibility. On an iPhone, follow the same steps and turn off Save to Camera Roll.  

Messages sent using the new
Messages sent using the new "disappearing message" feature will disappear after seven days.

HOW TO DELETE A MESSAGE  

If you’ve sent a message by mistake or changed your mind about sending it, you have about an hour to delete it for everyone before it becomes permanent in the chat. It used to be seven minutes but is now just over an hour.  

Tap and hold the message you want to delete for a few seconds. A bin icon will appear at the top of the screen. Click the Delete for Everyone option. 

The message will disappear and be replaced with a note: “This message has been deleted” to those on the other end of the chat. Of course it’s possible that they may have read it before you delete it, but the text won’t remain in the chat.  

PRIVACY 

How to block a contact 

- Open the chat of the person who’s being pesky.  

- On Android, tap the three vertical dots on the top right. Click More>Block.  

- On iOS, tap on the person’s name at the top of the chat, scroll down and select Block.  

- Another option on both would be to go to Settings>Account>Privacy>Blocked contacts. Add the name of the person you want blocked.  

Live location 

You can choose to share this for a specific period and with a specific group of people – for example if your friends  

and family are expecting you somewhere and you’re worried about getting lost.  

To enable it, you need to enable it in your phone’s permission settings – you can find these in your phone app settings.  

You can disable it there too or stop sharing in the individual/group chat. 

Disable the blue ticks 

You can turn them off – go to Settings>Privacy, turn off Read receipts – but the other person can still see if you’ve read their message, by holding down the message and clicking on the i symbol in the menu bar. By disabling read receipts, you won’t be able to see any blue ticks in any messages from any contact.  

Disable last seen 

Sometimes you really just don’t want people to know when you’ve been on WhatsApp – especially if you’re not in the mood to talk. You can disable this feature – but you won’t be able to see when others were last online if you do.  

Go to Settings>Account>Privacy>Last seen. You can select from Everyone, My Contacts or Nobody.  

Profile picture visibility 

If you don’t want strangers to see your profile pic, go to Settings>Account>Privacy>Profile photo. Decide between Everyone, My Contacts (people whose numbers are saved on your phone) or Nobody seeing your picture.  

STATUS UPDATES 

This is where you can share a picture or video for a maximum of 24 hours. If your read-recipient function is on, you can see who viewed your status update and at what time.  

You can share one or several status updates simultaneously. Click on Status (on the top menu in Android and the bottom left menu in iOS). Tap the plus sign on your profile pic to start adding to your status. 

Your contacts can reply to what you share. If you don’t want it to be visible to everyone, click on Settings>Account>Privacy>Status. Select from My Contacts, My Contacts Except (you can exclude your boss or your mom, for example) or Only Share With (a select group or select people).  

All your messages and calls on WhatsApp are secure
All your messages and calls on WhatsApp are secured with the end-to-end encryption. (Photo: Gallo Images/Alamy)

DEALING WITH GROUPS 

- Automatic adding It’s often annoying to just be randomly added to groups. Stop it from happening by going to Settings>Account>Privacy>Groups. You can then select from Everyone, My Contacts or My Contacts Except.  

- Too many messages If you can’t get out of the group (hey, family!), you can mute notifications if it’s too annoying. Open the group, tap the name at the top and scroll down to Mute. You can select for how long to mute the group after which time the notifications will start to pop up again.  

If someone uses the @ symbol and your name or replies to one of your messages, it will show up on your screen.  

BACKING UP, ARCHIVING & SAVING PICS 

- Backups If you’re especially keen on keeping your messages, best to turn this on. You can do it daily, weekly, monthly or annually. You also choose where you want it to backup to – for example, Google Drive or iCloud.  

Go to Settings>Chats>Chat Backup. You’ll see when your last backup was and you can choose whether to do it over Wi-Fi or mobile data.   

- Archiving This allows you to hide a chat from your chat list – nifty if you have LOTS of chats happening all the time and you don’t want to scroll for a long time. It doesn’t delete the chat, nor does it save storage space. 

It unarchives when you receive a new message from the person/group. Tap the chat you want to hide for a few seconds until a menu pops up. Select Archive.  

You’ll be able to find the chats in your archived list at the bottom (Android) or the top (iOS) of your list of chats.   

STARRED MESSAGES 

WhatsApp lets you “star” messages, which basically means you’re book-marking a message to make it easy to find your favourites.  

Even after you clear your chats, the starred message will be there. Select the message and hold for a few seconds. Choose the Star in the top menu bar.  

The WhatsApp web app is convenient if you don't wa
The WhatsApp web app is convenient if you don't want to toggle between your phone and PC or laptop while you're working.

HOW TO USE WHATSAPP ON YOUR PC OR MAC 

- Go to https://web.whatsapp.com/  

- Open WhatsApp on your phone. On Android, tap the menu icon – the three dots in the upper right corner – and select WhatsApp Web then scan the QR code on the PC/Mac. On iOS, go to Settings and select WhatsApp Web/Desktop.  

- Your phone needs an active internet connection for it to work. 

- To log out, tap the menu icon and select Log Out.  

Did you know?
You can set specific tones for specific people/groups. Open the chat, click on their name, select Custom notifications on Android or Custom tone on iOS. 

SOURCES:WIRED.COM, TECHADVISOR.CO.UK, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM

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