28 of the Best WhatsApp Tips and Tricks: Send your location, quote, edit images and more
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services in the world, both for its ease of use and its tight security for user data.
Beyond the simple text-based chat function there’s an ocean of different things you can do. If you’ve ever wanted to embolden or italicize your messages, back up your important conversations and files, or share temporary stories, whilst staying in the comfort zone of a messaging app, WhatsApp has you covered.
With the app being updated constantly with new features and improved security, it can be hard staying on top of all the novel ways WhatsApp lets you spice up your conversations.
This article should keep you up to date. We’ll update it as more features roll out.
From video calls to security, here is everything you need to know to get the most out of WhatsApp in 2018.
WhatsApp tips for better messaging
Add italics, bold and more in WhatsApp messages
To add more impact to a message, why not format it in bold? To do this, simply surround the words you want to appear in bold with an asterisk (*) symbols. You can also surround a word (or words) with underscore (_) symbols to convert it to italics, or with tilde (~) symbols to add a strikethrough.
Share multiple contact details
When you want to share contact details with a friend, there’s no need to send a business card from your Contacts app. Just tap the paperclip icon in a chat, select Contact and you can choose one or more contacts to share with the recipient.
Tap the right arrow and WhatsApp lets you choose which details you want to share for each person.
Quote old messages in a chat
Sometimes it takes a while to respond to messages, by which time a group conversation may have drifted to a totally different subject. In these cases, you can quote the exact message you’re responding to by long-pressing it and then tapping the left arrow on the toolbar.
The quoted message appears in a pop-up window so you can compose your response below it. When you tap the Send button, your message appears directly below the quote and the name of the user, so there’s no ambiguity about who you’re responding to.
Bookmark important messages
When someone sends you information such as an address or telephone number, scrolling through reams of messages to find it again can be annoying.
To avoid this, bookmark the message by long-pressing it and tapping the star icon. When you need it again, select ‘Starred messages’ from the main menu to view all your bookmarked messages.
Share your location with other people
If you’ve ever tried meeting someone in an unfamiliar place, you’ll know how difficult it can be to explain where you are using a vague description of your surroundings. Thanks to WhatsApp’s location-sharing feature, you’ll never need to do this again.
To share your location in a chat, tap the paperclip icon, and select Location. Approve any permissions that the app asks for, then tap ‘Send your current location’. When the recipient receives your location, they can tap it to launch Google Maps and get directions to find you.
Send messages from your PC
Unlike other messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger (messenger.com) and Telegram (telegram.org), you can’t install WhatsApp on more than one device, which is annoying if you don’t have your phone to hand. One solution is to use WhatsApp Web, which lets you send messages and files from your desktop browser (provided your phone is switched on and has an internet connection).
To use the tool, open the app’s main menu and select WhatsApp Web. Next, visit web.whatsapp.com in your browser and use your phone to scan the QR code that appears onscreen. All your chats will be displayed on the page, and you can search or start new chats and send photos or videos. If you select the ‘Keep me signed in’ option, you should be able to access your WhatsApp chats even if you leave your phone at home. You can sign out by tapping the WhatsApp Web menu on your phone and choosing Log Out.
Silence annoying group chats
If you’re often distracted by WhatsApp group chats, try muting them. Open the offending chat, tap the three-dot button in the top-right corner and select ‘Mute notifications’. You can silence the chat for eight hours, one week or one year, and untick ‘Show notifications’ to stop notifications appearing. If you change your mind, simply select the menu button again and choose Unmute.
You can also mute conversations with individuals by opening the appropriate conversation, tapping the menu button, and selecting ‘View contact’.
Block abusive contacts and spam
If a WhatsApp contact is being a pest or acting abusively, you can block them completely. Tap the chat’s menu button, select More, swipe up, and choose Block. Tap Block when WhatsApp warns you that you will no longer receive calls or messages from that person. If you’ve received a message that appears to be spam, you can report it by choosing ‘Report and block’.
WhatsApp tips for managing your media
Send any file (including hi-res images)
In the past, WhatsApp only let you send PDFs and media files, but you can now send any file type, which makes it a great alternative to sending attachments in emails.
To send a file, tap the paperclip icon in the chat and choose Documents. A list appears of documents on your device, which you can sort by name or date. Pick the file you want to send and it’ll appear in the chat for your recipient to download. To send an image at full resolution, pick ‘Browse other docs’ to browse all the files on your device.
Edit photos before you send them
Sharing photos and screenshots is simple enough, but sometimes you might want to crop an image before you send it. WhatsApp lets you do this without having to install additional photo-editing apps.
Just tap the paperclip icon, select Gallery, and choose the photo you want to send. Next, tap the crop icon and drag the markers to highlight your selection.
Tap Done and swipe up to add filters, stickers, and text, or to draw on the image. There’s an Undo button to remove the changes if you’re not happy with the results.
Find every link you’ve ever shared
If you’re looking for a link in a message that you didn’t star, use the following trick. Go to the appropriate chat and tap the three-dot button. Select Media, then Links to scroll through a chronological list of all the links shared between you and that contact. You’ll also see tabs for Media and Documents, which make it easier to find files you’ve shared with that contact.
Back up chats and media files
These days, you can back up pretty much anything on your phone to the cloud, and WhatsApp chats are no exception.
To set WhatsApp to back up to Google Drive, open the app’s main menu and select Settings, Chats, and ‘Chat backup’. Tap ‘Back up to Google Drive’ to choose how often the app saves backups, or select the green Back Up button to back up immediately.
Select a Google account and tap ‘Back up over’ to specify whether WhatsApp can perform backups over ‘Wi-Fi or cellular’ or only Wi-Fi. If you want to include videos in the backup, tick the appropriate box. When you get a new phone, you can restore WhatsApp chats from your Google Drive backups
Stop WhatsApp using all your data
WhatsApp doesn’t consume much of your data allowance if you only use it to send and receive text messages, but if you share lots of photos and videos with your friends, it’ll chew through a substantial amount. Indeed, WhatsApp accounted for an impressive 900MB of mobile-data usage on our phone during September alone.
To stop this happening, set the app to only download media over Wi-Fi. Open the main menu, choose Settings, and tap ‘Data usage’. Under ‘Media auto-download’, you can allow different types of media to download on mobile data and Wi-Fi. Below this, there’s also an option for ‘When roaming’, so you can ensure that you don’t rack up a large mobile bill when you’re abroad.
Try turning on the ‘Low data usage’ option to reduce mobile-data usage during voice calls.
Download images and videos to your PC
If you want to transfer photos and videos that you’ve been sent on WhatsApp to your PC, use WhatsApp Web (see page 1) to connect WhatsApp to your browser, then open a chat, click the photo or video you want to save and select the Download button. You can use the left and right arrows to browse media that’s been shared previously in the conversation (including files that you’ve sent).
Assign notification tones to groups
You can set custom notification tones for your group chats, so you instantly know if you’ve received a message from a particular set of friends – without needing to look at your phone.
Open a group chat, tap the menu button and choose ‘Group info’, then tap ‘Custom notifications’ and tick the box to ‘Use custom notifications’. You can then pick from a range of notification tones; choose whether your phone vibrates or not; and decide whether it displays a pop-up notification.
Change the font size
To change the font size in WhatsApp on an Android device, open its main menu and tap Settings, then Chats and Font Size. Here, you can choose from Small, Medium, or Large text. On an iPhone, WhatsApp uses the system font size. To change this, open ‘Display & Brightness’ from your iPhone Settings, then tap Text Size.
You can make the text even larger by opening Settings, General and Accessibility, then tapping Large Text.
Pin important WhatsApp chats
If you find that important conversations are often pushed down the screen by unimportant group chats, you can pin your favorite conversations so they’re always easy to find.
To do this, long-press the chat you want to keep near the top and tap the pin icon. To unpin a chat, long-press it again and select the pin icon with a strike through it.
Change your wallpaper
WhatsApp lets you change the wallpaper displayed behind your chats. Just open the menu within a chat, tap Wallpaper, and pick an image from your Gallery or WhatsApp’s Wallpaper Library.
If you’d prefer something plainer, try the Solid Colour or No Wallpaper options. Note that changing the wallpaper only affects your own chats and not your recipients’.
How secure is WhatsApp?
Some messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption (which it uses whenever possible) ensures that only you and the recipient of your message can read what is sent.
Even your voice calls are encrypted, and you can easily check if you’re protected by opening the appropriate chat, tapping its menu button and selecting ‘View contact’. Swipe up and you should see a padlock with the words ‘Messages to this chat and calls are secure with end-to-end encryption. Tap to verify.’ When you tap this option, a unique number appears, which should match that on the recipient’s device. Don’t worry, this isn’t the actual key – that’s always kept hidden.
Stop people reading your message notifications
If you have an iPhone, you can receive notifications for new messages without displaying their content on screen. Just open the app’s Settings menu, tap Notifications, and toggle the switch for Preview to off. You’ll now see the name of the contact in your notifications but not the message.
On Android phones, there’s no option to block previews from WhatsApp, but you can block WhatsApp notifications altogether by opening Android Settings, then selecting Apps and WhatsApp. Toggle ‘Block all’ to On and you’ll never get caught out by messages appearing on the screen. On some Android devices, such as our Samsung Galaxy S6, you might also find options to ‘Show silently’ or similar, which blocks previews but still displays notifications.
Stop anyone knowing you’ve read their messages
If you’d rather people didn’t know when you’ve read their messages, you can turn off the option that tells them. From WhatsApp’s Settings menu, select Account and Privacy, then untick the box for ‘Read receipts’.
There is a catch though: if you turn this feature off, you won’t be able to see when other people have read your messages either.
Change who can see your private information
From the Privacy menu in WhatsApp’s Account Settings, you can also choose who is allowed to see your personal information, including your profile picture, status, and when you were last online. For each option, you can choose Everyone, ‘My contacts’ or Nobody.
It’s a good idea to use ‘My contacts’ in most instances, otherwise, anyone with your phone number can see when you were last online. It’s also worth pointing out that setting the ‘Last seen’ option to ‘Nobody’ means you won’t be able to see when any of your contacts were last online.
Add two-step verification
Two-step verification adds another layer of security to your account by asking for a six-digit PIN to verify your phone number on WhatsApp, whenever it’s installed on a new device. To turn it on, open Settings, then Account and select ‘Two-step verification’. Tap Enable and enter your PIN, then tap Next and enter it again to confirm. Tap Next once more and you’ll be asked to enter an email address, to which you can send a link that’ll reset your PIN if you forget it.
Get alerted when someone changes a device
You can set WhatsApp to alert you if a chat’s end-to-end encryption key has changed. This normally indicates that the recipient has reinstalled WhatsApp or transferred it to a new device, so you can simply ask them to confirm that they know why a new key has been issued.
To enable the feature, open Settings, tap Account and Security, and make sure that ‘Show security notifications’ is turned on.
Make a Skype-style video call
Only a year ago, you needed a dedicated app such as Skype to make video calls from your Android device. Now, you can make free video calls directly from WhatsApp, simply by opening a chat with the appropriate person and tapping the video camera icon next to their name and last-online status.
For even faster calling, tap the contact’s profile photo in the Chats tab and press the video-camera icon that appears. Video calls are logged with normal voice calls on the Calls tab.
Make free voice calls over Wi-Fi
WhatsApp lets you make free voice calls whenever you have an internet connection, which is handy when you’re abroad and don’t want to pay expensive roaming charges. Even when you’re not connected to a wireless network, the feature can be cost-effective if your phone contract is geared towards free mobile data rather than free phone calls.
To call someone using WhatsApp, simply tap the phone button at the top of the chat. If you’ve never called a contact before, go to the Calls tab and tap the phone button to find them. You can find a log of all your previous calls on this tab and call someone again with one tap.
Send a voice message
We seem to receive fewer voicemails than ever these days, which isn’t surprising because picking them up is such a hassle. However, WhatsApp lets you leave audio messages (without waiting for a contact’s phone to ring out), which works in the same way as visual voicemail, letting you skip backward and forwards and replay them as many times as you like. To send a voice message, just press and hold the microphone icon in the appropriate chat for as long as you need to speak. You can cancel the message by swiping immediately left.
Share important news with everyone
If you’ve got some important news to announce, WhatsApp’s Broadcast feature lets you send a message to several of your contacts in one go.
Open the main menu, then choose ‘New broadcast’ and choose who to share your news with (only people who have your phone number in their contacts list will receive the message). Next, tap the tick and compose your message. You can attach photos or videos as with a normal chat. Tap the menu button and select ‘Broadcast list info’ to delete or edit the broadcast list.
Share a self-destructing story
Like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, WhatsApp lets you share content that disappears after 24 hours. To add one of these ‘stories’, tap the Status tab, and select ‘My status’. Swipe up to choose a photo or video from your Gallery, or use the shutter button to capture media directly in WhatsApp.
You can add a caption, stickers, and text, or draw on the image. Tapping the envelope icon shares it with everyone in your contacts list. Long-pressing a story and tapping the trash icon deletes it before the 24-hour self-destruct deadline.