21 Facebook Messenger tricks you're (probably) not aware of

Become the king of chat and the envy of your friends by levelling-up your Messenger skills

Time was, sending messages through Facebook was a clunky add-on to your favourite social media service.

Now, though, it's grown into a fully fledged, standalone beast of communications, complete with a slew of cool features - many of which are hidden away in settings menus.

So, to keep you abreast of the best developments - and to ensure your chat game is on point - here are 21 Facebook Messenger tips and tricks that you might not know about.

The basics

Use Messenger without a Facebook account

Some people prefer to steer clear of signing up for a full Facebook account - but that doesn't mean they need to miss out on the Messenger fun.

At the login screen, simply hit the button to say you don't have an account and you'll be able to register using only your phone number. If you've associated this with an account before it'll try and get you to sign in with that - but if you're trying to go cold turkey on Facey-B, you can still make a new chat-only login using this number.

Once you're online, you'll still be able to choose a picture and start chats with people you know, many of whom are easily found from your phone's contacts library.

Access Messenger anywhere with the web version

Away from your phone or trying to stay under the radar? Fear not: Facebook has a full, standalone web-based Messenger service.

Head to the website, sign in and - hey presto! - you've a phone-like Messenger interface right there on your PC, without having full Facebook open to distract you with its cheeky memes.

Make group plans

Pinning your pals down to concrete plans can be a real pain in the proverbials. Thankfully, Messenger has a solution that means you won't even need to fire up your calendar app.

In a conversation, tap the name at the top then hit 'create plan'. (On Android, you click the little 'i' symbol in the top right, then choose 'Start a plan'.) This will let you schedule in a time, activity and location - and will send a timely reminder to all involved, so they'll feel even more terrible for running late (or ditching entirely).

Assign nicknames to your pals

Fun! Banter! Chat! Friendly ribbing is what makes having friends so great. At least, that's what we've heard. What better way to celebrate your shared humour, then, than by assigning witty nicknames.

Hit the name at the top of a chat window, then tap 'nicknames' (again, on Android you tap the 'i' symbol first). From here, you'll be able to set labels for everyone in that group (that will appear only in that specific conversation), for all to enjoy. Be warned, though: nicknames can be added and edited by everyone in the chat - so if you bring the wit, prepare to be out-witted.

Mute notifications

Great as group chats are, there always comes a point when the barrage of banality gets too much. You don't have to cut all ties and leave the group, though.

Simply hit the name of the conversation at the top, and tap 'notifications' or, on Android, the 'i' symbol. Toggle 'message notifications' to off and you'll be offered the option to turn them off for good - or for set periods, including 15 minutes, an hour and 24 hours.