Facebook Chat

What is Facebook Chat?

Facebook Chat is like Facebook’s version of text messaging that many people do on their mobile smart phones. It allows you to type messages to friends and have them reply to you quickly.

You can see which of your friends are using Facebook right now, what device they are on (Web or Mobile), and start chatting with them in real time. Facebook chats are also private, so only you and the person(s) you are chatting with can see the conversation.

How to Use Facebook Chat

Using Facebook Chat is easy!

  1. Go to www.facebook.com in your web browser and log in.
  2. In the bottom-right corner, there will be a tab called Chat.  (The number beside it will show you how many of your friends are logged into Facebook and available to chat right now.)  Click it.
  3. A menu will appear that lists your friends who are online, and some who aren’t.

    If someone have a green circle next to their name, it means that they are online (and it will show if they are using Facebook on the “Web” or on a “Mobile” device) . If they are offline, there will either be nothing next to their name, or a number (in minutes) of how long ago they were last online.If you can’t seem to find a friend, there’s a search box at the bottom.  Just click it, and then start typing your friend’s name.  As with most other search features on Facebook, the results will automatically be narrowed down as you type.

    Once you find the friend that you want to chat with, simply click their name, and a new chat box will be opened where you can have a private conversation with them.

  4. This is what a Facebook Chat window looks like.  The numbered points below the screenshot will tell you what the function beside each number does.

    1. Chat Header – Click in the blue header beside a person’s name to minimize their chat window.

    2. Other User – Move your mouse cursor over a person’s name, and an underline should appear.  Clicking on it will take you to their Timeline.

    3. Add Users to Chat – Click here to search for other people to invite to the conversation, in order to make it a group chat.  See the section below for more on how to use this function.

    4. Chat Options – Click the options icon () for more options relating to that particular conversation. You can send files or mute the conversation. Muting the conversation will close the chat window and allow you to not receive any notifications from that particular user for either one hour, until 8 a.m., or until you turn it back on.

    5. Close Conversation – Click the “X” here to exit the conversation. Your previous conversations are all saved for the next time you open the window.

    6. Message Composer – Click in here and type in the message that you want to send to the other person, and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.  You can also click the camera icon () to add a picture to the chat, or the smiley face icon () to add a cartoon representing your emotion.

    7. Minimized Chat – A minimized conversation will blink dark blue if you have a new message, and a red flag next to the name of the person you’re chatting with will tell you how many unread messages you have from that person.

Facebook Group Chats

A chat doesn’t have to only be between you and one other person. You can add as many people as you like to a conversation. Click the options button () to show the drop-down menu and select Add Friends to Chat. There is also the Add Friends shortcut button () that does the same thing.

This will bring up a search bar at the top of the chat window.  Type in a friend’s name, and Facebook will narrow down your choices as you type until you find the friend that you want.  Click their name to add them to the chat.  Repeat this process for however many friends you want to add to the chat.  If you change your mind, click the “X” next to a person’s name to remove them from the chat.

Once you’ve found all the friends you want to, select Done and another chat window will appear with all the members of your group conversation.

To leave a group conversation, click the gear icon () and select Leave Conversation.

A window will pop up letting you know that if you leave the conversation, you will no longer receive messages from the group, and people will see that you’ve left. Select Leave Conversation if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

Sharing Files on Facebook Chat

If you have a document on your computer or a photo that you’d like to privately share with someone on Facebook chat, you can do so.  Simply open their chat window by clicking on it (if it isn’t already open, click the gear icon () and choose Add Files.

A window will pop up that will allow you to search your computer for the file you wish to send.  Click through the explorer window until you find the file that you want, and then click “Open” to share it in the chat.

Added files will appear below the text input box.  To remove them from the chat, click the “X” next to any file.

Turning Off Facebook Chat

Turning off chat, either with everyone on your Facebook friends list or just particular people, makes Facebook tell them that you are offline (even if you really aren’t).  This is useful if you are in the middle of reading an article, watching a video, or listening to something and don’t want to be disturbed.

If someone sends you a message anyway, it will go to your mesage inbox rather than popping up in a conversation window at the bottom.  Our Facebook Messages tutorial (here) will teach you how to use this function, so that you can reply to them when you have the time.

To turn off chat for a particular person, click the gear icon () in the chat window and select Turn off Chat for [Name].

To turn off chat for everyone on Facebook, click the Chat tab in the bottom right to open it (if it isn’t open already), click the gear icon (), and select Turn Off Chat.

A window will appear asking if want to turn off chat for all friends, all friends except some, or just some friends.

If you choose all friends, select Okay for it to take effect.

If you choose all friends except some, you’ll be asked to type in the names of friends who will still see you as online.  The process is similar to adding friends to a chat: click in the text box, type the friend’s name (Facebook will help you narrow it down), and then click their name to select them.  Then repeat the process for each friend you want to give an exception to.  To deselect someone, click the “X” next to their name.

You’ll do the same thing if you choose to turn off chat for just some friends, except that you’ll be asked to type the names of the friends who will view you as offline. When you are finished, select Okay.

If you have turned chat off for all friends, simply click the Chat tab again to turn it back on.  If you have turned chat off for some friends and not others, you will have to turn chat back on for them manually.

To manually turn chat back on for specific people, click the Chat tab in the bottom right to open it (if it isn’t open already), click the gear icon () there, and select Turn Off Chat again.  Then, click the buttons beside “Turn Off Chat For All Friends Except…” or “Turn Off Chat For Only Some Friends…” and click the “X” next to people’s names to remove them from the lists.  Then, click the button beside “Turn Off Chat For All Friends” and click Okay.

From there, simply click the Chat tab again to turn chat back on.


And that’s a quick overview of how to use the chat feature on Facebook!