I have this theory that within the next decade, no one will have SIM cards anymore; all of us will be sending messages on WhatsApp. And now they've got that new call-making feature within the app, too, surely it's only a matter of time before the service is available without a number — possibly leading to us all just using our phones for the internet and totally negating the "phone" part of "smartphone." (I called it here, first, people). To whit: There are plenty of things you didn't know WhatsApp could do that take care of basically all our communication needs. Because ew, making phone calls — who wants to do that anymore?
WhatsApp is constantly evolving (remember when it wasn't free?), with the result being that the app has cemented itself as the world's most popular messaging service: Indeed, Quartz reports that 1 billion of us are using it each month. It comes as some relief to its users then, that WhatsApp recently began encrypting all its messages, meaning that only the people messaging are able to read what's being sent between them — not even WhatsApp can access those messages. I like the sound of this, especially considering some of the content we tend to send in our group chats on Sunday mornings.
So, to help you get the most out of your WhatsApp experience, here are eight need-to-know tips and tricks for the app that will boost your texting game immeasurably. You're welcome.
1. Disable Your "Last Seen" Online Section
The politics of whether or not you're ignoring someone while you're online are a thing of the past with this trick: You can hide your "Last Seen" info. Head to Settings > Accounts > Privacy; from there, you can opt to change the visibility of that pesky line at the top of your chat which has been the bane of your life practically since you started using the app. There's also the option to allow “everyone,” “no-one,” or just “your contacts” to see when you were last online, meaning you can now appear aloof and unavailable to a select few.
2. Hide Your Profile Pictures From Randos
As you probably know, anyone who adds your number can see your profile pic on WhatsApp, even if you don't add them to your contacts. If this bugs you (and there are plenty of reasons it might), go onto Settings > Accounts > Privacy > Profile Photo and select who you want your pic to be visible to.
3. Discover Your WhatsApp "Best Friends"
There's a way to uncover which convos are taking up the most space on your WhatsApp and find out who you message the most, therefore inadvertently revealing who your WhatsApp besties are. Head to Settings > Account > Storage Usage — and from here, you'll be able to view all your contacts according to message size in a Snapchat-style scoreboard. Opening each chat will reveal how much media you've swapped, while clicking the “Size” tab at the bottom will rank your conversations according to the amount of space they take up on your phone. Genius.
4. Read Your Messages Incognito
Never again will you have to worry about whether or not a certain somebody has seen your message with this trick. All you have to do is set your phone to airplane mode when you receive your message and keep your Wi-Fi off — then you can read your messages incognito, without the other user getting the "seen" notification on their end. Just remember to close the app entirely once you’re read the message — otherwise the "seen" notification might pop back up — and keep in mind that if you open the convo again, the blue ticks will appear.
5. Use WhatsApp On Your Computer
If you ever tire of over-analyzing your chat history on an uncomfortably small phone screen, you can switch to full-size on your desktop — but only if you’re an Android or Blackberry user. Find out how by visiting the official page on WhatsApp for the web.
6. Recover Your Deleted Messages
Ever wish you could bring a hilarious group chat back to life after getting a new phone? Well, with a little forward planning, it's very possible. Go into Settings > Chats, then select either the option to back up your chat history or auto backup, so you don't have to worry about it in future. With iPhones, your chat history will be stored in the Cloud, meaning you can reinstate all your convos and witty exchanges on a new phone by simply reinstalling WhatsApp.
7. Emphasise Your Point With Bold, Italic And Strike-Though Text
This fairly recent update (March 2016) makes it possible to add bold, italics and strike-through styles to your WhatsApp messages. To make the text bold, add an asterix either side of the word (e.g. *hello*); for italics, add an underscore before and after your words (e.g. _hello_); and for the strikethrough effect, add a tilde (~) before and after (e.g. ~hello~). Nothing like adding a little urgency to your messages, right?
8. Prevent Your Sent Images From Eating Up Your Data
Data allowance gets swallowed up super quick, but you can save the megabytes by making the memes, videos and images your friends send you to download only when you're connected to Wi-Fi. Go to Settings > Data Usage and choose what media you want available and when. Underneath this section, there's also an option to limit the amount of data used up when making a Wi-fi call. If you're on Android, go to Settings > Chats and Calls > Media Auto-Download to find your options.