Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Messenger

Text, call, share pictures/videos, send money and play games

Facebook messenger
Hoch Zwei/Contributor/Getty Images

Messenger is an instant messaging service released by Facebook. However, unlike most text messaging apps, Messenger can do a whole lot more than just send texts.

Facebook Messenger was launched in August 2011, after the acquisition of a group messaging app called Beluga. Although it's owned and operated by Facebook, the app and website are completely separate from Facebook.com.

Tip: You don't have to be on Facebook's website or even have a Facebook account, to use Messenger. While the two are partially connected if you do have a Facebook account, you don't have to have one in order to use Messenger.

How to Access Facebook Messenger

Messenger can be used on a computer at Messenger.com or opened from the mobile app on Android and iOS. Since the iPhone is supported, Messenger also works on the Apple Watch.

Even though Messenger is already easily accessible through the website, there also exists some extensions you can install in some browsers to supposedly make it even easier to use.

Note: The add-ons mentioned below are not official Facebook apps. They're third-party extensions that non-Facebook employees have released for free.

Chrome users can use Facebook in its own window like its own desktop app, with the Messenger (Unofficial) extension. Firefox users can put Messenger on the side of their screen and use it while on other websites, in a split screen fashion, with Messenger for Facebook.

Facebook Messenger Features

There are lots of features packed into Messenger. The fact that you don't have to have Facebook to use Messenger means these perks are available even for those that haven't signed up for Facebook or have closed down their account.

Send Text, Pictures, and Video

At its core, Messenger is a texting app, for both one-on-one and group messaging, but it can also send images and video. Plus, Messenger includes lots of built-in emojis, stickers, and GIFs that you can even search through to find exactly what you want.

Some wonderful small features (or possibly negative side effects) included in Messenger is its typing indicator to see when the person is writing something, delivered receipts, read receipts, and timestamp for when the message was sent, with another for when the most recent one was read.

Much like on Facebook, Messenger lets you react to messages on both the website and app.

Something else pretty great about sharing images and videos through Messenger is that the app and website collects all of these media files together and lets you easily sift through them.

If you're using Messenger with your Facebook account, any private Facebook message will be shown in Messenger. You can delete these texts as well as archive and unarchive the messages at any time to hide or show them from constant view.

Make Voice or Video Calls

Messenger also supports audio and video calls, from both the mobile app and the desktop website. The phone icon is for audio calls while the camera icon should be chosen to make face-to-face video calls.

If you're using Messenger's calling features on Wi-Fi, you can essentially use the app or website to make free internet phone calls!

Send Money

Messenger also functions as a simple way to send money to people using just your debit card information. You can do this from both the website and the mobile app.

Use the Send Money button from a computer, or the Payments button in the app, to send or request money. Or, send a text with a price in it and then click the price to open the prompt to pay or request money. You can even add a little memo to the transaction so you can remember what it's for.

See Facebook's Payments in Messenger FAQ page for more information on this feature.

Play Games

Messenger also lets you play games within the app or Messenger.com website, even while in a group message.

These games are specially made so that you don't have to download another app or visit any other website in order to start playing with another Messenger user.

Share Your Location

Instead of using a dedicated app to show someone where you are, you can let recipients follow your location for up to an hour with Messenger's built-in location sharing feature.

This only works from the mobile app.

More Features in Facebook Messenger

Although Messenger doesn't have its own calendar (which would be pretty cool), it does let you create event reminders through the Reminders button on the mobile app. Another neat way to do it is to send a message with some sort of reference to a day in it, and the app will automatically ask you if you want to make a reminder about that message.

From within a message in the mobile app, Messenger lets you request a ride from your Lyft or Uber account.

The name of a group message can be customized, as can the nickname of the people in a message. The color theme of each conversation thread can even be modified as well.

Audio clips can also be sent through Messenger if you'd like to send a message without having to text or make a full audio call.

Notifications on a per-conversation basis can be silenced for so-many hours or completely turned off, both for the desktop version of Messenger and through the mobile app.

New Messenger contacts can be added by inviting contacts from your phone or, if you're on Facebook, your Facebook friends. There's also a custom Scan Code you can grab from within the app and share with others, who can scan your code to instantly add you to Messenger.