WhatsApp web and desktop: How do they work and how do you use them?

Instant messaging service WhatsApp has both web and desktop apps, offering yet another way to make it as easy as possible to keep up to date with all your WhatsApp messages throughout the day.

The web version and the desktop app for macOS and Windows work in pretty much the same way and they're very similar to your WhatsApp smartphone app. 

To download the WhatsApp desktop app, head to whatsapp.com/download from your desktop browser and hit download. Alternatively, if you don't want to download, go to the web-based version at web.whatsapp.com.

Here is a brief guide to getting the most out of them.

What are these apps? 

The WhatsApp web and desktop apps are an extension of your smartphone. They mirror all the conversations and messages you have on the WhatsApp app on your phone and allows you to see them all and reply to them all on your PC or Mac using your computer's keyboard instead of the keyboard on your smartphone.

You can see exactly what is going on in your WhatsApp world while working on a Word document or replying to an email, without needing to take your smartphone out of your pocket.

How do they work?

The apps initially require you to scan a QR code using your mobile phone in order to access your messages and conversations. Once you've done this though, you can put your phone in your desk drawer or pocket and forget about it.

The app will pull up all of your conversations, deliver any new messages and enable you to start new chats or search your current conversations. You'll also get access to your profile, along with some basic settings and any archived chats. 

These apps don't offer exactly the same functionality as the smartphone app when it comes to settings but responding to messages and starting new chats is the same, just easier and faster as you have a bigger display and better keyboard.

How do I use them?

Once you've opened the app on your PC or Mac, scan the QR code that appears on your computer screen using your smartphone. 

To do this on iPhone, open the WhatsApp app on your device, go to Settings then WhatsApp Web and the box will appear ready to scan your desktop screen. On Android, open the WhatsApp app, go to three dots in the top right corner and tap WhatsApp Web.

Your messages and conversations will then appear on your computer screen. You can change the size of the window, as well as minimise it if you want to. On Mac, any new messages will appear in the top right of your display, as they do with other applications such as Mail. In Windows, they'll appear in the bottom right and then filter into the Notification Centre. 

To view your profile, change your status or change your profile picture, click on your picture at the top of the desktop app. Next to your picture is the symbol that will allow you to start a new chat, while the small arrow next to new chat symbol will bring up a drop-down menu.

Managing chats and groups

The drop-down menu is also where you will find your archived chats, another way to get to your profile and status, as well as the option to start a new group. The settings are also within this menu, consisting of access to any blocked contacts and notification preferences, including turning sound on or off, as well as choosing whether or not to show previews.

Hovering over each individual chat in the main screen will also bring up a small arrow for that particular chat, offering a couple more options. You can archive a chat, mute it, delete it or mark it as unread from here.

There are also more options in each individual chat. At the top left of a particular chat, you'll see their name and when they were last online if they have this feature activated. In the top right, there is the paperclip symbol for attaching any media, along with another small arrow that brings up another drop-down menu.

Within this menu, you can select messages within that particular chat, mute the chat, clear it and delete that particular chat, as well as see contact information for that person. You can also double-tap on the bar at the top of the chat and you'll get the option to delete the chat, as well as see the contact's information.

Emojis are also available on the WhatsApp desktop app. You'll find these in the same place as you would on the smartphone app, on the side of the box where you type a new message.