Social Media

Discord Might Be A Twitter Alternative — Here’s How To Use It

There are 19 million active groups on the app.

How to use Discord — choosing servers, making an account, and more.
Xavier Lorenzo/Moment/Getty Images

Some internet dwellers are looking for new platforms to use following the changes Elon Musk is making to Twitter, including a paid subscription model and new fact-checking tools. While there isn’t a totally similar alternative to the 280-characters-per-post platform yet, social sites like Mastodon and Discord are welcoming new users looking for a place to interact with friends and find communities.

Founded in 2015, Discord offers both public and invite-only spaces for text, voice, and video communication. Users can pop into groups, called servers, at any time to chat with other members and there are absolutely no ads on the platform. Discord has over 150 million active users, so it’s clear people love the voice, video, and text communications platform — Morning Consult, a market research company, even named it one of Gen Z’s favorite apps in 2022.

Despite Discord’s popularity, moving to a new platform can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the app’s interface and lingo. If you’re curious about joining Discord and all it has to offer, read on to learn how to make an account, join a server, and start curating your online experience.

How To Make A Discord Account

To get started on Discord, you have to download the app on your smartphone (it’s compatible with both iOS and Google Play) or use the website When using the website, you can download the app to your desktop or open the app in your web browser. Whichever avenue you choose, you’ll be immediately prompted to create an account and a username.

Once you enter a valid username, you’ll be asked to create a server or join an existing one via an invite link you can get from friends already using Discord. Servers can be chosen later on, and to finish making an account you’ll have to enter your birthday, an email address, and a password. You’ll be able to officially claim your account by verifying your email address — an important step to ensure you keep your username and are able to access all of the servers you eventually join.

How To Change Your Discord Username

Choose your Discord username wisely, as this will be the name that is seen when you first join a server on the platform and in DMs you may be a part of. If you ever want to change your username at a later date, go to Settings, open the My Account tab, and then go to the Edit Account section. This is also where you can change your profile picture.

Note that every Discord username ends in an auto-generated four-digit code. These numbers can’t be changed unless you have a Discord Nitro subscription plan ($3 per month for Nitro Basic and $10 per month for Nitro). Once your username is set, you can choose a “nickname” that will be your display name within a server.

Discord Nitro Subscription Plans

Discord Nitro Basic is a $3 per month subscription that includes custom emojis, bigger file sharing (up to a 50 MB limit), a Nitro badge, and custom video backgrounds. Discord Nitro is a $10 per month subscription that offers users the same perks as Basic as well as file sharing up to 500 MB, HD streaming, server boosts (perks for everyone in a server), animated avatars, the ability to customize your account in every server, access to 200 servers, and a 4,000-character limit for messages.

What Is A Discord Server?

When you first get on Discord, you’ll be given a list of subcategories like gaming, music, science, entertainment, or student hubs to get you started. Discord servers are essentially online community spaces, either public or private, where you can talk to other members online. You can join existing servers or create new ones for any sort of interest or hobby including book clubs, TV fandoms, study groups, or just a friend group chat.

There are over 19 million active servers on Discord to choose from, including popular ones like Houseplants for plant parents, The*gameHERs for female-identifying and non-binary gamers, Kai’s Haven for all things mental health and well-being practices, and Animal Crossing for fans of the popular game.

You can join up to 100 servers (200 if you have a Nitro subscription), so you can cast a wide net when it comes to which communities you might want to participate in. Once you join a server and agree to its individual rules, you can start chatting with other members and join existing threads within the group.

Public Vs. Private Discord Servers

There are two types of servers that you can join on Discord: public and private. Private groups are invite-only and can be accessed by invitations from someone already in the group. Most Discord servers are small, private, invite-only groups that people create to spend time with their IRL friends. On the other hand, public servers are accessible to everyone and you can join one in three ways.

How To Join A Public Discord Server

  1. Press the "+" icon at the very bottom of the server list to add a server directly.
  2. If you have a server invite link, press the Join a Server button, paste the link, and press Join Server.
  3. You can also use the “explore” option, which is directly below the “+” icon.

To use the explore option, press the compass icon at the very bottom of the server list. You will be given a list of featured communities in the home menu. You can look for a specific server in the “Explore Communities” search bar. For keywords, think of subjects like specific movies, shows, sports teams, certain content creators, and more.

After you agree to a server’s rules, you can select your roles (either member, administrator, or moderator), join specific topic channels within a server, and more. Each server is a little different, so be sure to poke around when you enter a new one to see how it works.

How To Make Your Own Discord Server

Perhaps you want to create a new Discord server for your group of friends to use. First, click on the “+” button on the left-hand column of the app. If you already have a lot of servers, you might have to scroll down to find this button. Choose the “Create” button on the next window and enter a server name and icon by choosing a photo from your files. Once you click “Create” again, your server will be live. From there, you can customize it, invite friends to join, and create text or voice channels for different topics.