WhatsApp Web and Desktop: How do you use them? (2023)

WhatsApp Web and Desktop: How do you use them? (1) Why you can trust Pocket-lint

(Pocket-lint) - 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 towhatsapp.com/downloadfrom 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.

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What are the WhatsApp desktop and web 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 allow 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.

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How do WhatsApp desktop and web work?

Both WhatsApp Desktop and WhatsApp Web initially require you to link your phone to them for them to work. To do this, you have to scan a QR code using your mobile phone and authenticate your phone with your PIN, fingerprint or Face ID 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.

WhatsApp Desktop and Web apps 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.

Can WhatsApp Web or Desktop be used on multiple devices?

You can link up to four devices to your WhatsApp account to use WhatsApp Desktop or WhatsApp Web on, whether that's a laptop or a tablet, for example. It's worth noting only one phone can be used at a time.

You'll need to follow the same steps as mentioned above to link devices so you'll need your phone to be able to do this initially.

Without your phone, you won't be able to set up the linked device as you need to scan the QR code.

Does WhatsApp Web work without a phone?

Sort of, yes. You need your phone for the initial setup of WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop apps but your phone doesn't need to stay online for those four linked devices to work once they are linked.

You will automatically be signed out of WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop if you don't use your phone for 14 days though. That means a WhatsApp Web session or WhatsApp Desktop session will expire after two weeks if you don't open WhatsApp on your phone. If you do, the session will expire when you log out of the linked device.

Can WhatsApp Web be tracked?

WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop are end-to-end encrypted, like WhatsApp chats are on your phone. All four linked devices using WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop are end-to-end encrypted.

How do I use WhatsApp Desktop or Web apps?

Once you've opened the WhatsApp Web or Desktop app on your PC or Mac, or tablet, 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 'Linked Devices' and tap on 'Link a Device'. Once you have authenticated your phone with your passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, 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. You can turn off WhatsApp Web and Desktop notifications though.

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, including Log Out.

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Managing chats and groups on WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop

The drop-down menu on WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop at the top of your chats next to your profile pictures, is where you will find access to settings, the ability to log out and starred messages. There is also the option to start a new group. In Settings, you'll find access to things like your Last Seen settings, Disappearing Messages, any blocked contacts and notification preferences, including turning sound on or off, choosing whether or not to show previews, or choosing to turn off all Desktop notifications.

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, pin it, mute it, delete it or mark it as unread from here. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcuts below for that.

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 a search symbol, 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 itand delete that particular chat, as well as see contact information for that person. You can also click on the bar at the top of the chat and you'll get the option to delete the chat, turn on Disappearing Messages 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. The paperclip symbol for attaching any media also lives here.

How to video call on WhatsApp Desktop or WhatsApp web

As with the WhatsApp mobile app, you can call or video call a contact through the WhatsApp desktop app (it's not possible on WhatsApp web).

We have a separate, more detailed feature on that, but in a nutshell, tap on the contact you want to call or video call and tap on the audio icon or video icon at the top of their chat.

What can't you do on WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop?

There are a few features not supported on WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop.

You can't clear or delete chats on linked devices if your primary device is an iPhone. You also won't be able to message or call someone who is using a very old version of WhatsApp and as we mentioned, WhatsApp Web doesn't support video calling or calling.

You also can't view live location on linked devices and you can't create and view broadcast lists on those devices.

Last but not least, you can't send messages with link previews from WhatsApp Web.

WhatsApp Web and Desktop Keyboard shortcuts

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts available for WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop.

For Mac users, here are the handy shortcuts available:

  • Mark as Unread: Cmd + Shift + U
  • Mute: Cmd + Shift + M
  • Archive Chat: Cmd + Shift + E
  • Delete Chat: Cmd + Shift + D
  • Pin Chat: Cmd + Shift + P
  • Search: Cmd + F
  • Search Chat: Cmd + Shift + F
  • New Chat: Cmd + N
  • Next Chat: Cmd + Tab
  • Previous Chat: Cmd + Shift + Tab
  • New Group: Cmd + Shift + N

For PC users, here are the shortcuts available:

  • Mark as Unread: Ctrl + Shift + U
  • Mute: Ctrl + Shift + M
  • Archive Chat: Ctrl + Shift + E
  • Delete Chat: Ctrl + Shift + D
  • Pin Chat: Ctrl + Shift + P
  • Search: Ctrl + F
  • Search Chat: Ctrl + Shift + F
  • New Chat: Ctrl + N
  • Next Chat: Ctrl + Tab
  • Previous Chat: Ctrl + Shift + Tab
  • New Group: Ctrl + Shift + N
  • Profile and About: Ctrl + P
  • Increase speed of selected voice message: Shift + .
  • Decrease speed of seected voice message: Shift + ,
  • Settings: Ctrl + ,
  • Gif panel: Ctrl + G
  • Emoji panel: Ctrl + E
  • Sticker panel: Ctrl + S

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.

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