10 WhatsApp hacks that you need to know about
The text message is dead! And in its place, long live the more popular, more flexible, more user-friendly – and now entirely free – WhatsApp. With the annual fee having long since been knocked on the head and video calling having finally landed alongside better video viewing, there's now nothing standing between you and endless chats. That means it's time to progress beyond the basics and learn to become a WhatsApp wizard.
From dodging awkward messages without the guilt to keeping the adult stuff private, here are the WhatsApp tips and tricks that will turn you into a messaging master.
1. Hide the fact that you're ignoring someone
Disabling those giveaway double blue ticks (Settings > Account > Privacy > Read Receipts) is a great way to avoid the 'I know you've read it' message rebuttals when opting to ignore someone. Turn them off all the time, however, and suspicion might start to grow.
And yet you can hide that you've read messages on an individual basis. Before you open the questionable chat, switch your phone to airplane mode. You can now read away with no alert being sent. Now exit the message before you turn airplane mode off again, and it will remain unread - well, in the sender's eyes at least. Cue evil laugh.
2. Enjoy guilt-free message dodging by hiding your 'last seen' time
WhatsApp's double blue ticks are a backstabbing homing beacon for social snubbing. However, they're not the only notifier out to show up your message-dodging deceit. Your 'last seen' time is a second layer of unwanted attention when you're desperately trying to avoid an awkward conversation.
You can turn it off though. By heading to Settings > Account > Privacy > Last Seen, you can decide who, if anyone, you want to see when you've last been active. Finally, guilt-free ignoring is possible.
3. Magically recover deleted messages
*Smiles*, *brags*, *accidentally presses delete* ...and as simple as that, the number of that pretty girl/ guy is gone. All is not lost, though, for there is a way to bring back messages from the dead. You're going to have to pre-empt your message deleting misfortunes here a little bit though.
If you've set up daily backup for your favoured chats (see tip #11), WhatsApp will, in the wee hours of the morning, save that day's messages to the cloud. Now, if you accidentally delete messages or entire chats, you can simply recover the lost content with Harry Potter-levels of wizardry by reinstalling the app. Phone numberious, returnerum!
4. Quote your friends to prove them wrong
Instead of scrolling back through hundreds of rambling messages, taking a screenshot of the proof that your pal said they'd arrive two hours ago, then cropping it and sending it back – you can now simply quote them.
Sure, you'll still have to give your thumb a sizeable workout by scrolling back to the message you want, but once you have it, you can simply hold down on it, then hit the left arrow on Android or the 'reply' button on iOS to deliver your WhatsApp mic drop. This feature will handily link them back to that message if they need added context as well.
5. Throw in some bold and italics to get your point across
WhatsApp is great for most things. Sensing tone isn't always one of them though. Fortunately there's a hidden little feature to help you better get your point across and help your friends understand the urgency of your messages. You can add bold, italics, and even strikethrough.
How? Well, sadly it's not as easy as simply clicking the corresponding button. Instead, every time you want to put a bit of emphasis on a certain word, you'll have to put the desired command shortcut around the words you want to stand out. To bold up, you need to but an asterisk on either side of the word, like *this*, while italics need an underscore on either side of a _word_, and strikethrough a tildes (those squiggly hyphens), just like ~this~. Feeling jazzy? You can even combine commands for *_bolditalics_* attention grabbing.
6. Mute group chat notifications for personal sanity
You just wanted to know what time you were supposed to be meeting at the pub tomorrow. But that one simple question has resulted in three hours of WhatsApp-based 'banter' between your cretinous mates. Each 'your mum' joke and unwitty aside at an ex's expense is now just a movie-interrupting, sleep-preventing irritant.
Well, no more - it's time to hit the big red mute button. In a chat, simply select the name at the top to launch an in-message settings menu. From here you can toggle mute on (NB: not big or red), cutting out the bings and bongs for a range of timeframes ranging from "friend-snubbing" 8 hours to an "OK, we're done" full year.
7. Use WhatsApp on the big screen
Just because your boss gets a bit sniffy about having your phone out in the office, doesn't mean you have to miss out on important WhatsApp messages (read inane, time-wasting chatter). The service can be switched to your desktop too.
Dedicated Windows and Mac OS WhatsApp apps have just launched, meaning you can seamlessly sync your smartphone-based chats to your primary computer and skive work without anyone suspecting a thing - bonus.
8. Stop dirty images showing in your camera roll
If you're the sort of person who sends and receives images you'd rather your friends didn't stumble across, you probably don't want them saved just two swipes from last night's party pics in your camera roll.
There's an easy way to avoid accidental image embarrassment though. In Settings > Chats you can toggle the Save Incoming Media tab. Now you can share smutty snaps with little fear of reprise.
9. Save your data allowance from meme-spam
If you've been hitting it hard on the train-based Netflix sessions this month, you probably don't want every cat snap or Game of Thrones meme you're sent further eating up your data allowance. But you can save the megabytes by setting images and videos to download only when you're connected to the Wi-Fi.
To enable these data-saving ways on iOS, all you need to do is go Settings > Data Usage where you'll be able to assign download methods per content type. On Android things are a little different. You're offered all the same options, but you'll have to go Settings > Chats and Calls > Media Auto-Download to find them.
10. Turn your best mate into a WhatsApp-themed app
Find it hard to pick out your bezzie mates from your mass of WhatsApp chats? Well, there's a great way to give people priority, although it's one for just the Android folks - sorry Apple owners. You can cut down the search time by saving shortcuts to your favourite WhatsApp Chats direct to your handset homescreen.
A long press on the desired chat will launch a menu of options, including the 'Add chat shortcut' tab. And that's it: you can now share your selfies and oddball chatter a fraction of a second quicker. It's like having an app dedicated to your mate. Which isn't creepy at all.