It has over a billion active users every day and has become so commonplace that by now nobody says “I sent you a message” (or an SMS), but directly “I sent you a WhatsApp”. Despite the competitors that have appeared over the years, WhatsApp remains the queen of instant messaging apps. The primogeniture contributed to its position (it was the first app to really change the way smartphone users send messages), the continuous development, as well as the passage under the aegis of Facebook and the decision to drop the small fee initially requested.
Sending and receiving messages, and even phone calls, is easy. But not everyone really knows how to make full use of the app, which contains some hidden or at least not widely publicized features. So let’s see what are the best tricks and secrets of WhatsApp, from the simplest to the most curious, and we’ll also take a look at the news that the near future has in store.
WhatsApp: Format the text
For some time now, WhatsApp has evolved beyond sending simple text. By adding some simple characters directly into the text you are typing it is in fact possible to change the formatting of the text itself, turning it into bold or italics or blocking it. This is the same trick that PC processors have been using for many years: to activate bold, it is sufficient to enclose the text between two asterisks; to activate italics, the text must instead be placed between two underscores (i.e. the underscore _); to mark them, it is instead necessary to use the tilde (~) character.
WhatsApp: Mark the message as important
Conversations on WhatsApp, especially those that occur in groups, quickly risk filling up with dozens of messages. In these cases it is difficult to find the specific message that contained that important information (maybe a link, or an address). Fortunately, it is possible to indicate some texts as important in order not to lose them in the mass, a bit like you do with the bookmarks (or “favorites”) of the browsers.
To do this you need to hold your finger on the message in question until, at the top of the screen, a menu consisting of symbols appears. Among the items on this menu there will be a star: by pressing it, the message will be marked as important. The operation is also possible from WhatsApp Web, by clicking on the small down arrow on the right of each message and choosing the item important message.
To retrieve the messages thus indicated (by accessing a sort of bookmark list, to continue the analogy with the browsers), it is instead necessary to open the menu and choose the item Important messages.
Who are your best friends on WhatsApp?
If you are curious to know which are your best friends on WhatsApp, those with whom you chat more frequently, you can do it by using two functions originally designed for anything else.
If you use an iPhone, you must open the path Settings> Data usage and Archive> File usage. Here you will see a list of contacts sorted according to the space occupied on the phone; by touching each contact you can see the details, such as the number of messages exchanged or images.
For Android users the procedure is a little different. After opening the menu, the path to follow is Settings> Chat> Chat History> Send chat via email. The screen that will open at this point is designed to choose the conversation to be sent via e-mail but in the upper part shows the contacts with which we have exchanged the most messages.
The blue checkmarks of WhatsApp
The introduction of the blue checkmarks (officially known as Reading Confirmations) in WhatsApp has allowed users not only to know if a message has actually managed to reach the recipient’s smartphone but even if they have read it. However, the fussiest ones might want to know just what time the message was delivered or opened.
WhatsApp allows us to satisfy even this curiosity. iPhone users must place their finger on the message and scroll to the left (swipe). Android users must instead keep the finger pressed on the message until a menu appears at the top of the screen, among which it is easy to recognize the icon – a circled «i» – which allows obtaining the desired information.
The blue checkboxes of WhatsApp: How to deactivate them
Blue checkers don’t like privacy lovers: why – they ask – should my friends need to know if I’ve read their messages? Fortunately, the blue checkmarks can be disabled. Just open the Settings> Account> Privacy menu and scroll to the bottom of the screen, to then remove the check mark next to the words Confirm readings.
In doing so, friends will no longer know when we will read their messages. The downside, however, is that even we will no longer be able to do the same, and we will never know if friends have actually read our messages.
Groups: Sometimes they are annoying
Those who participate in more than one WhatsApp group know that there are days when the rhythm of messages is frantic. The WhatsApp programmers must have realized it and introduced a function that allows “silencing” a conversation: in other words, even if messages arrive in that chat, no sound will be reproduced, nor will vibration be activated.
To take advantage of this feature, in Android you need to keep your finger pressed on the chat you are interested in and, when the top menu appears, select the icon with the speaker barred. IPhone users will instead have to open the conversation and touch the name of the contact or group, then choose Silence. In both cases it is possible to silence a chat for 8 hours, for a week, or for a whole year.
Photos, videos and much more
WhatsApp is not just for conversation; indeed, there are many users who communicate almost exclusively by sending photographs, videos, audio clips and, more recently, even documents. The problem is that all these media have a certain weight and their reception can have a considerable impact on data traffic which, in general, is limited by the tariff plan.
To avoid consuming all the available gig you can decide to limit the types of multimedia content that are downloaded when using the mobile network. For this purpose it is necessary, both in iOS and in Android, to open the menu and follow the path Settings> Data usage. On the next screen you can choose which media to download in the different conditions: if the mobile connection is active, if the WiFi connection is active or if you are roaming. To talk to several friends at the same time, WhatsApp provides Groups: a single conversation in which all participants see each message. But it may happen that you want to send a message to several friends without necessarily having to create a group: this is exactly the purpose of the Broadcast function. Selecting New Broadcast from the main menu proposes a list of possible recipients, just as if you were creating a new group. Once the selection is complete, it will be possible to send everyone the desired message, but each will see it as if it had been sent to him only.
Change or hide the WhatsApp profile photo
WhatsApp users are generally proud of the photos they choose for their profile. Many take care to change it often according to the mood of the moment, the place where they are spending their holidays, the famous person they prefer. Sometimes, however, you may want to hide your profile image, without thereby permanently deleting it. Or make it visible to contacts but not to strangers who somehow get our number but we haven’t added to contacts yet.
The creators of WhatsApp have also provided this possibility: it is necessary to open the menu and follow the path Settings> Account> Privacy> Profile picture. On the next screen you can choose whether it is visible to everyone, only to contacts or to anyone.
A shortcut to chat
It is said that necessity is the mother of inventions, but laziness probably also plays a role in this. Let’s think for example of the operations needed to chat with a contact: you need to open WhatsApp, search for the contact in question, select it, and finally you can start writing. Exhausting.
To speed up the entire operation, you can create a shortcut to put on the smartphone’s Home screen: at that point, simply touch it to start talking.
Doing it is not complicated: in the screen that offers the list of chats you keep your finger pressed on the conversation for which you want to create a shortcut until the top menu appears. Then select the menu icon (the one with the three dots arranged vertically) and select Add connection to the chat. A brief message will inform you that the operation was successful.
How to show the most important chats in another
The order of chats in the WhatsApp main screen is defined by the last message sent or received: the most recent of these brings up the related conversation. However, it is also possible to decide to always keep some specific chats in the top positions of the list, for example those that are particularly important and that should not be swallowed by the whirlpool of all conversations.
The procedure is simple: keep your finger pressed on the chat you are interested in and, when the menu appears at the top of the screen, select the pin-shaped icon. The chat will jump to the first position and will gain the pin-shaped icon right below the time indication of the last message; a brief note will inform you that the conversation has now been “fixed”.
“I’m coming” Writes the friend who for half an hour has been waiting outside the cinema, while it is raining and the best places are running out. It would be nice to be able to have the certainty that it is really on the street and not yet dozed off on the sofa. If patience is running out and there is the problem of being a little too direct, instead of sending a trivial “But where are you?” You can ask him to send us the position. All your friend has to do is click on the paper clip icon in the box where you normally type answers, and which also serves to insert attachments in the conversation. From the next screen you must choose Position. The phone will detect the location and offer the option Send your current location, but also the ability to choose from a number of nearby locations.
Delete a message already sent from WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a continuously evolving software and often these evolution are guided by what the users are loudly asking for. One of the most insistent requests is the one concerning the possibility of canceling the messages sent , indispensable to avoid bad figures when one realizes that one has the wrong addressee or to follow-up last-minute thoughts.
Already in the summer WhatsApp had started to prepare its servers to perform this function and now it has made it available with an app update. If you regret a sent message, you can delete it exactly as you delete it from your smartphone. But only within 7 minutes of sending it.
If you hold your finger on the message in question and, from the menu that appears, select the icon in the shape of a basket. At this point you can choose one of the three items: “delete for me” or “delete for all”. However, the operation will not be without consequences: in the chat there will be a trace, in the form of the words “This message has been deleted”.