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

Tap your way to better chat with these nifty tips

When Facebook first foisted its chat app upon us, Messenger was little more than a clunky distraction from, well, other distractions. Like dog memes. And your gran’s troublesome wall posts.

Fast-forward a few years and, boy, have things changed: now you can’t go a day without hitting that little blue icon, slinging stickers at your familiars and delivering top-spec bants to the squad on group chat.

And, over that time, Facebook’s messaging app has gone from a simple back-and-forth to a titan of interaction, offering a slew of cool and useful features – many of which are hidden away in settings menus.

Keen to keep your gossip on point? Here are 30 Facebook Messenger tips and tricks to upgrade your conversation. Sadly, there’s nothing to make your gran less embarrassing.

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 in support of the #deletefacebook movement, 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 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, hit the four dots next to the typing field and tap 'Reminders'. 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'. 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.

Share your location

If you're going to a rough part of town - or just want to prove to your other half that you really aren't going to the pub - you can share your live location in a conversation for 60 minutes, so that someone special can track your every move.

In a conversation, hit the four dots, then tap 'location' and hit 'Share Live Location'. You'll probably need to grant Messenger constant access to your location to do so, which you might want to turn off again later.

React to messages

For when you haven't got time to scroll through the endless number of GIFs and Facebook Stickers for the perfect response, you can let your mate know their message has been received loud and clear by sending a quick 'reaction' - just like you can for comments and posts.

Simply press and hold the message you want to acknowledge and the usual array of faces will appear. Click the one that best suits the sentiment you want to send across and your friend will be notified accordingly. Happy face!

Quote & reply to messages

Group chat going wild? It’s all too easy to lose your thread when a torrent of messages is flooding your phone.

For clarity of conversation, use the quote and reply function to highlight the message that you’re responding to: simply press and hold on the relevant one, then tap the little arrow to reply.

As with the similar feature on WhatsApp, the quoted message will then appear above your own, making it crystal clear who and what you’re talking about. It won’t do anything to stem the flow, though.

Unsend your messages

Sent a Sunday selfie to Brian the Boss instead of your old mate Brian de Vos? We’ve all been there – but if you act fast, there’s a chance you can rectify the messaging error before your act of vanity triggers workplace hilarity.

Press and hold the mistaken message and, provided it was sent less than 10 minutes ago, you’ll have the option to remove it – for you, or for everyone.

Trash it for everyone, click confirm and it’s gone. Or, at least, the content is: there’ll still be a note saying ‘You removed a message’ – but at least your recipient won’t ever know what it contained. Unless you waited 11 minutes, in which case the whole office will know about that leopard-print sarong you wear at weekends.

Chat to brands

Gone are the days of picking up the dog and bone to Get Things Done: from your electrician to your hairdresser to your favourite gadget magazine, almost every business has a Facebook presence today. Which means almost every business can be contacted through Messenger.

Simply search for the brand you’re after and, even if you haven’t liked or followed the page, you’ll be able to drop them a note through the app, as well as doing all the other useful stuff Messenger permits – like sharing files and, erm, sending GIFs.

Unlike emails, you’ll be able to see when they’ve read your message. And unlike telephone calls, you won't have to speak to anyone. Win-win.