There are over a billion WhatsApp users worldwide right now. The bad news? Your mum has already found her new favourite way to spam you. The good news? You can easily avoid her on the down-low, and that’s just one of the messaging service’s many secret tips you probably don’t know about.
From disabling its ‘last seen’ feature to bookmarking messages you don’t want to forget about, there are loads of tricks to make your favourite IM app more useful than ever. You just have to be in the know.
Fortunately for you (and indeed for us), we’ve scoured every inch of WhatsApp to gather up its most useful features. Read these top tips and you’ll be a pro in no time at all.
1) Begone, blue ticks of misery
We know how it is. You're at figure skating practice, your phone buzzes, and you glance down briefly before nailing a spectacular triple axel.
Clearly, you've not got time to respond immediately. But at the same time, you don't want the sender to realise that you've already looked at the message, lest they think you're ignoring them when you fail to reply for two more hours. That's the privilege the blue ticks take away.
Recently though, the chat app has realised the error of its ways and silently come up with a workaround. The liberty of message-mulling is ours again.
How: In the Settings menu, go to Account, then Privacy and turn off Read Receipts. The only snag is you’ll no longer get them for other people either.
Want to get sneaky? If you need to read something on the downlow without giving up read receipt privileges, simply put your phone in Airplane Mode before reading the message and you'll dodge a blue tick. Just make sure you've closed the app before you turn your data back on. We won't tell anyone.
2) Figure out your BFFs
In the year 2019, friendships aren’t measured on loyalty or time, it’s all about how much data you’ve shared. WhatsApp has that info - and you can use it to make your own ranked list of your favourite friends. No, there's nothing weird about that at all. What's more, if you click through you can mass delete stuff that’s taking up too much space.
How: Head to Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Storage Usage and you’ll see a list of your most important groups and contacts ranked according to the data you’ve expended on them. Ah, the romance of modern living.
3) See when your messages are read
In group chats, those grey ticks only turn blue when every member of the group has read your message. But there lurks within WhatsApp a handy way to find out who’s neglecting you...
How: On Android, hold down on a message you've sent and select Info, or on iOS, simply swipe left on the message you want the details on. It'll show you who it's been delivered to, who's read it and when. This also works with individual chats.
4) Hide your profile pic
Batman. David Bowie. Pepe the Prawn. All people who have built their much-vaunted careers on an air of mystique and otherness. You can bet they’d have their WhatsApp profile pics set to private, instead of treating the world to a bedraggled photo of them and a bottle of Lambrini. So, as the saying goes, always be yourself unless you can be like Batman.
How: Head to Settings > Privacy > Profile Photo > Nobody.
5) Mute group chats
With WhatsApp groups only capped at 50 participants, they can sometimes get pretty busy. Prevent yourself from being woken up by incessant messages by muting particular groups.
How: Tap on the group chat of your choice, then the name to bring up Group Info where you will find the option to Mute the chat for either eight hours, one week or a year. Although if you're choosing the latter, you might as well leave altogether.
6) Get shortcuts to conversations
If you’re on Android you can create shortcuts to popular chats and let them live on your homescreen: useful if there are certain people you chat to more often.
How: Tap and hold on the chat (group or individual) of your choice and a tab will pop up. Select the Add Conversation Shortcut option and the chat in question will appear as the person's profile photo on your mobile desktop.
7) Send your mates your location
If you're trying to give directions to your mates on where to meet and getting nowhere, you can sling them a pin of your current location and get them to make their way to you using maps. If you're not there yet, you can also send them a pin of where you're heading to, or alternatively, share your 'live location' to let them track your movements en route.
This will broadcast your location to them for a choice of 15 minutes, 1 hour or 8 hours. Changed your mind about wanting your whereabouts known? You can end it whenever you want by clicking the "stop sharing" option in the chat.
How: On iOS, click the + icon to the left of the chat box, and choose Location. This will bring up all of your options for the above, though you will need to approve Whatsapp to know your location at all times if you want to use Live Location (it will prompt you to do this if you haven't already). On Android, head to the Attach menu and choose Location in the same way - you'll need to approve the app for similar location permissions here too.
8) Go incognito
You can’t get away with not replying to messages if people can see when you were last online, so turn off WhatsApp’s ‘last seen’ feature to go incognito. Now you can ignore people at your leisure...
How: It’s in the Privacy menu, under Last Seen, and if you want you can hide from everybody, or only allow your contacts to see your activity.
9) Send messages with your voice
If you’re busy cooking, eating or juggling, replying to messages can be a real faff. But thanks to Siri on iOS and Google Assistant on Android, you can reply without touching your phone.
How: Holler “Hey Siri” or “OK Google”, say “send a WhatsApp to Jonny” and you can dictate your missive about missing Jonny’s wedding because of your juggling practice instead.