22 Cool Tricks and Secret Gems Inside Facebook Messenger

  • Play Instant Games Everywhere

    Facebook has experimented with "mini games" that were accessed by sending a friend an emoji in Messenger. Well, there's good news and bad news there. As far as I can tell, the dinky little emoji games no longer work. But Messenger has a whole slew of cross-platform gaming options.
    Challenge your friends in dozens of games—which include arcade classics like Pac-Man and Space Invaders to popular mobile phenomenon like Everwing and Cut the Rope 2—by tapping the little gamepad icon at the bottom of any chat screen. One of the coolest things about Facebook's Instant Gaming is how versatile the platform is. Not only can you play these games in any mobile Messenger app, but you can play them in the web app and even directly on Facebook.com.
    If you don't feel like challenging a friend, you can play solo by going to facebook.com/games/instantgames; in the apps, open a chat with yourself and hit the gaming icon.
  • Create / Scan Snapchat-Like Profile Codes

    2Create / Scan Snapchat-Like Profile Codes

    Last year, I interviewed Antonio Garcia Martinez, a former Facebook developer who said you can tell which companies scare Facebook execs the most by the features they copy. Going by that logic, Facebook execs are super scared of Snapchat.
    Case in point: Messenger Codes, Messenger Links, and Messenger Usernames. If you've seen your social media feeds populated with yellow ghost images and felt confused, that's because you're old. One of Snapchat's coolest innovations is allowing people to share direct links to their profile via a personalized image (or code) that users scan with their phones. But Facebook wasn't going to let Snapchat have all the fun; last year it got into the pictogram game, too.
    Messenger Codes are designed to eliminate the awkward "who are you" aspect of trying to chat with a person you don't know or have just met at a social gathering or trade show. To see/share your Facebook Messenger code, tap your profile photo on the top left (iOS) or right (Android)—it's on the bottom on iPad.
    Here you'll find your personalized code with your Facebook profile pic in the middle. If you tap that, the pop-up page will present two tabs. The "My Code" tab will present your code for easy scanning, while the "Scan Code" tab will allow you to scan in other people's codes.
  • There's a Standalone Messenger Website

    3There's a Standalone Messenger Website

    If you work in front of a computer most of the day, you'd surely welcome the ability to access Messenger via that big fat screen in front of your face. You could get some limited messaging functionality via the little pop-over chatbox on the Facebook.com homepage, but you can also access a somewhat beefier version via messenger.com. It's handy, though we should note that the Messenger web app doesn't include all the functionality of the mobile app—no encrypted messaging, for example (more on that later).
  • Interact With a Bot

    4Interact With a Bot

    Facebook is jumping headfirst into the chatbotosphere. Bots developed by news organizations like CNN or the Wall Street Journal, for example, deliver news links to your Messenger conversation based on your interests or queries; some allow you to place an order for something directly through Messenger, like 1-800 Flowers.
    Want to talk to an algorithm? In Android or iPhone, hit the little lightning bolt icon ("Discover") in the bottom right to access a searchable list of bots to start chatting or to subscribe to regular updates.
    On iPad or on the web, search for bots directly in the "To:" field in a new conversation. Unfortunately, you just have to search for recognizable brands that conceivably could have the resources to develop a bot. What Facebook DESPERATELY needs is a small icon to let you know which brand accounts are an active bot. (Alternatively, botlist.co compiled a list of available bots).
  • 5Transfer Files

    While most of the really cool stuff is reserved for the Messenger mobile apps, there is one thing that's largely reserved for Facebook.com and the web app: File transfers.
    If you're using the pop-up chat interface on Facebook.com, there's a little paper clip icon you can use to attach documents. If you're using Messenger.com, you can just drag and drop files. I was able to transfer Microsoft Word documents, Photoshop files, and even MP3s, the latter of which are actually playable inside Messenger (0:22 in the video above).
    Those on mobile can receive and access these files, but there is not currently an option to send them from your phone. Messenger has Dropbox integration, but it appears you can only use it to send photos on mobile, not docs.
  • 6Supersize Your Emoji

    Sometimes a simple emoji won't do the trick and you need to SUPERSIZE that shiz. Easy enough to do. Just hold down the emoji in the bottom right-hand corner (which you can change—we'll go over that later) and the symbol will grow. Once it gets to a certain height, just let go and you can send your friend a larger version of that icon. But be careful, if you hold it too long, the icon will begin to shake before deflating back to its smaller, normal size.
  • You Can Create a Quick-Access Shortcut (for Android)

    7Create a Quick-Access Shortcut (for Android)

    As far as I can tell, this function is only available on Android. If there is a Messenger conversation you want to open easily, create a quick-access shortcut on your home screen. Just long-press on any conversation in the main column to prompt a pop-up menu, where you'll find the option to "Create shortcut." Select that to create a shortcut on your phone's home screen. It's a quick way to make any Messenger conversation a tap away.
  • You Can Send 15-second Videos

    8Send 15-Second Videos

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a nonillionwords (which is totally a real number). That's why Facebook added the ability to send 15-second video snippets in a message.
    On mobile, when taking a photo in a conversation, hold down the photo icon in the center of the screen and let go when you're done or until your 15 seconds are up. On iPad, tap the photo icon and press the circle shutter icon to begin recording. On the web, it seems you can prompt a video after hitting the little camera icon, but it got frozen on my system for whatever reason.
  • You Can Send Money Through Messenger

    9Send Money Through Messenger

    Messenger allows you to send money to anyone through the app and on the web. In the app, click the plus sign in the far left and select Payments. Select who will receive the money, fill out the amount, and add your payment information if it's not yet added to your account.
    To add a debit card to Facebook Messenger, go to settings > Payments > Add New Debit Card. On the web, select the dollar sign icon on the menu and follow the same steps.
    There doesn't seem to be a way to facilitate payment in the iPad as far as I can tell, but you can do it on the web.
  • Start an Encrypted Secret Conversation

    10Start an Encrypted Secret Conversation

    Last year, Facebook rolled out one-to-one encrypted communications on mobile, AKA "Secret Conversations." They use the Signal Protocol (an Ed Snowden favorite) and are intended just for you and the other person.

    Starting a Secret Conversation is optional because end-to-end encryption breaks some features in Messenger, like using it across multiple devices, archiving past conversations, and sending things like animated GIFs.

    First, you will need to enable Secret Conversations on your device (it can only be active on one device at a time). To do this on iOS, tap your Facebook profile photo on the top left of Facebook Messenger, scroll to Secret Conversations, and toggle it on. On Android, hit the chat head icon on the top right to access Settings, scroll down to Secret Conversations, and toggle it on.

    To start a Secret Conversation on mobile, start a new chat and select (or toggle) "Secret" on the top right, select the person you want to message, type your message, and send as usual.
  • You Can Make Phone & Video Calls through Messenger

    11Make Phone, Video Calls

    While Messenger was initially designed as a cross-platform messaging medium for short, IM-like missives, it has expanded to facilitate internet-based audio and video calls. This function is available in all Messenger incarnations. Just click the little phone or video camera above an individual conversation for either audio or video calls, respectively (uh duh).
  • Are You Ignoring Me?

    12Are You Ignoring Me?

    You can check to see if the recipient of your message saw it by tapping on it in the mobile app. A little check sign will appear next to the message if it's been read.
  • Set Color Emoji and Nickname for Particular Conversations

    13Add Color Emoji, Nicknames to Conversations

    Messenger gives users the power to nickname particular conversations, assign them a color, or even give them their own particular emoji (the one you can supersize mentioned earlier).

    You access this function differently on different platforms—e.g. in the Android and web version you hit the little "I" icon, while on iOS, you click the name at the top of the conversation. But you're a smart and capable internetter—you'll find it.
  • Add or Remove People From Group Conversations

    14Add, Remove People From Group Chats

    Messenger allows users to engage in group conversations, which is a nice feature when, say, organizing a night out. But what do you do when you want to kick someone out of the convo (including yourself) or add a new person into the mix? Messenger allows you to do just that. Unfortunately, it's a very different process on each platform.

    In the web app, click the conversation in the left-hand column > click the "i" icon in the top-right corner > click "Add People" at the bottom of the right-hand column. Alternatively, you can click the "..." next to a participant's name to remove them from the group. If YOU want to be removed from the group, click the gear in the top right-hand column.

    On iOS, the procedure to remove people is as follows: Click on the conversation in the left-hand column > click the group name at the top of the screen > click on an individual's name > click "Remove From Group." If you want to leave, scroll to the bottom and tap "Leave Group" or tap on your name and then "Leave Group"). You can also add people here.

    In the Android version, click on the conversation > click the "i" icon in the top-right corner > then hit the stacked dots next to each name to remove individuals. You'll also find the "Add people" link here. If YOU want to leave, click the stacked dots in the top-right corner and then click "Leave group."

    Good luck with all that.
  • Group Magic

    15Group Magic

    You know you can add and remove people from groups, but you can also save and name particular groups. In the mobile app, create a group chat through the "Groups" tab at the top (at the top in mobile, at the bottom in iPad ) and assign it a nickname if you want (e.g. "work", "friends"). You can also take part in group phone calls by tapping the phone icon in the top-right corner. It's like a 1980s-style party line all over again.

    In the web app, you can re-name a conversation by clicking on the icon next to the conversation in the far-right panel.
  • Poll Your Friends

    16Poll Your Friends

    Getting a group to make a decision can be frustrating. Messenger now allows users to poll their friends when in a group chat. At the bottom of the group chat window on Android, click the "Create a Poll" icon (it looks kind of like the Spotify logo on its side) to put democracy in action. On iOS, click the "..." icon and select Poll.
  • Send Spotify Songs Through Messenger

    17Send Spotify Songs Through Messenger

    Last year, Facebook entered into a partnership with Spotify to allow users to share musical content (songs, albums, playlists) through Messenger. Mind you, these tunes aren't playable inside the app—they're more like fancy links the recipient can click to open directly in Spotify.

    Once again, the feature is annoyingly varied across platforms. In most cases, you can hit the "..." option on the chat menu and scroll down to find the Spotify app. Spotify will open and allow you to find the song you wish to send. The recipient will need to have the Spotify app installed on their phone; it does not appear to work on the web, even if you have the desktop Spotify app.

    You can also share directly from the Spotify app. Select a song, tap the "..." on the song > Share > Send to > Messenger. The Messenger app will open, you select a recipient, and the song is sent.
  • Request a Ride Through Messenger

    18Request a Ride Through Messenger

    Back in 2015, Facebook entered into a partnership with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to allow users to order up a ride without leaving the Messenger app on smartphones.

    To access it on Android, click the little car icon in the bottom of your screen. On iOS, tap the three-dotted icon on the menu bar during a chat and tap "Request a Ride." In the pop-up at the bottom of the screen, pick which service you'd like to use

    Obviously, this feature is only available in cities where those services are also available and will require you to sign up and have the Lyft or Uber apps installed.
  • You Can Add Additional Facebook Accounts

    19You Can Add Additional Facebook Accounts

    If you want to add an additional account to Messenger, go to Settings > Accounts > hit the plus symbol in the top-right corner on Android. On iOS, tap the Me icon > Switch Account > hit the plus symbol on the top right.
  • You Can Send Your location

    20You Can Send Your Location

    You can send your exact location to anyone you're talking with on the mobile app just by clicking the little location icon in the bottom of your conversation (it may be under "more" depending on your device and the orientation).
  • Make Messenger Your SMS App (Android Only)

    21Make Messenger Your SMS App

    It's crazy to think about, but there are people out there who don't use Messenger. Well, you don't have to cut off ties with them because of their lifestyle choices. If you're on Android, you can make Messenger your default SMS interface by going to Settings (the person icon in the top-right corner) > SMS > toggle on "Default SMS app."

    You'll have access to the basics like text, attachments, and emoji, but you'll need to use Messenger for things like video chat or sending GIFs.
  • 22Personalize Your Emoji Experience

    Emoji have become far more diverse in recent years to reflect the diversity of people on the internet. This option to change the shade of your emoji by default does not appear to be available through the mobile apps as far as I can tell. However, you can change things on the iPad by going to Settings under "Me" > Photos, Videos & Emoji > Emoji options. On the web app, just go to Settings > Emoji.

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