WhatsApp Groups

What are WhatsApp groups?

WhatsApp groups are collections of WhatsApp users who share messages with each other.  You can create or be a member of as many groups as you want, and each group can have up to 100 people in it.  Each group has one or more administrators, who are the only people who can add or remove contacts for the group.

How to use WhatsApp groups

Part 1: How to create a WhatsApp group

  1. Turn on your mobile phone and tap WhatsApp to open it.

  2. Tap the Chats category (the middle one).  Then, tap the "Other Options" menu (the three white dots).

    Extra WhatsApp chat options

  3. In the menu that appears, tap New Group.

    Creating a new WhatsApp group

  4. Tap where it says "Type Group Subject Here" and use your phone's (virtual) keyboard to type in a name for the group, up to 25 characters in length.  You can also tap the smiley face icon to choose an emoticon to use in your group name; this counts as 2 characters.

    Setting up a WhatsApp group profile

    You can also tap the blank profile picture here and select a picture to represent your group from your phone's camera roll or stored pictures.  (If your picture is sufficiently large, you will need to move and crop the frame to decide how much of your picture you want to use.)

    When you're ready to move on, tap Next.

  5. You must now select contacts who will be members of the group.

    Selecting WhatsApp group members

    Tap the box labelled "Type Contact Name" and use your (virtual) phone keyboard to type in the name of a contact to search for.  As you do, your contacts whose names match your search terms will appear in a drop-down menu.  Tap a contact here to add them to your group.  To remove a contact that you've added the group, tap the "X" beside their name.

    When you've finished adding group members, tap Create.

Part 2: How to manage a WhatsApp group

  1. Tap the Chats header, and then tap the name of the group that you want to manage.

    Entering a WhatsApp group chat

  2. You can send and receive messages with all members of the group in the same way as we outlined in our How to Use WhatsApp tutorial.  Note that even if you have blocked certain members of a group, you will still receive messages that they send to that group, and they will receive any messages that you send to the group.

    Accessing information about a WhatsApp group

    To manage the group, tap its name in the top-left corner.

  3. Under the "Participants" heading, you can tap Add Participant, and then select a person from your list of contacts to add to the group.

    Adding, removing, and managing WhatsApp group members

    You can also tap the name of someone in the group for additional options.  You can, for example, tap Make Group Admin to give that person the ability to add or remove group members.  You can also tap Remove [Person] to kick that person out of the group.

    Finally, you can tap Exit Group to leave the group.  If you are the only administrator of the group, another group member chosen at random will become the new administrator.

Those are the basics of using WhatsApp groups!

How to Search WhatsApp

Looking for something in particular on WhatsApp?  Do you have so many contacts that it's difficult to find the one you want without scrolling through pages of names?  Was there something important that someone said in a group chat or private message, but you just can't remember where?  Have no fear!  Searching on WhatsApp is fairly simple, and you can do it in a variety of ways.

To search on WhatsApp:

Turn on your phone and launch WhatsApp.  Then, tap Calls, Chats, or Contacts. Tap the magnifying glass icon, and type in message text, a group name, or a contact's name or phone number.  You can also search for messages within a chat by opening the chat, tapping the three white dots, and then tapping Search.

Not enough to go on for you?  No problem!  Keep reading for an expanded set of instructions, complete with screen captures that illustrate how it's all done.

Detailed instructions for how to search WhatsApp

  1. Turn on your phone and tap WhatsApp to launch it.

  2. Tap the Calls, Chats, or Contacts category.  Then, tap the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen.

    Start a general WhatsApp search

  3. Use your phone's (virtual) keyboard to type in something to search for.  For example, you can type in words that you're looking for in a text message that you sent (or was sent to you), or the name of a contact or group.  You can even search for a contact by typing in their phone number.

    WhatsApp searching and results

    Note that all three categories will allow you to search for contacts by name or phone number (as long as you have called them at least once or have an active chat with them), but only Chats will allow you to search for groups or text messages.

    Tap a result to see more information about it.  You can also tap the "X" beside the search box to clear your current search terms, or tap the arrow icon beside the search box to cancel your search.

  4. You can also search for all instances of certain letters or words within a particular chat (individual or group).  To do so, tap the Chats category, and then tap the individual or group chat that you wish to search inside.

    Selecting a WhatsApp chat

  5. Once you have the chat window open, tap the "More Options" icon (the three white dots) in the top-right corner, and then tap Search.

    Starting a search within a WhatsApp chat

  6. Use your phone's (virtual) keyboard to type in the words or letters that you are looking for within this chat.  As you do so, they will be highlighted in the main chat window.  You can use the up and down arrow icons to the right of the search box to look for other instances of your search terms within the chat.  You can also tap the back arrow icon to the left of the search box to cancel your search.

    Searching within a WhatsApp chat

    (NOTE: WhatsApp will only search for your terms from the beginning of words, which means that it won't pick up on characters or terms in the middle of words.  For example, in the screenshot above, if I searched for "st", WhatsApp would pick it up as the beginning of the name 'Steve', but not in the middle of the word 'test'.)

That's a wrap for our lesson on how to search in WhatsApp!

How to Use WhatsApp

Now that you've downloaded and installed WhatsApp and set up an account for it, it's time to get started using it!  This tutorial will cover some of the basic functions of WhatsApp, including adding or inviting contacts, calling or messaging your contacts, blocking contacts who are bothering you, and letting your contacts know if you're available or not by changing your status message.

To use WhatsApp:

Turn on your phone and launch WhatsApp.  WhatsApp automatically adds contacts from your phone's address book; tap Contacts, and then tap a person's name to start a chat.  The various functions in the chat window let you exchange text messages, photos, voice recordings, phone calls, and more with your contact.

Those are the most important functions of WhatsApp, in a nutshell.  But you probably want to see how it all works in detail, right?  We thought so, so we took the liberty of including extended instructions with screenshots below.

Detailed instructions on how to use WhatsApp

The first thing that you want to do is turn on your phone and tap WhatsApp to launch the app.

Launching the WhatsApp app

How to add or invite contacts

To add contacts, you can simply add people to your phone's internal address book.  If they use WhatsApp, it can detect their phone numbers and automatically add them as contacts for you.  You can also invite people through a text message, email, or other chat program to download and join WhatsApp.

To add or invite contacts to WhatsApp:

If you know someone who already uses WhatsApp and want to make them a contact, simply add them to your phone's address book.  Then, go back to WhatsApp and tap the Contacts category.

Viewing your WhatsApp contacts

Tap the "More Options" button (the three white dots), and tap Refresh.  The person should show up in your contacts list.

Refreshing your WhatsApp contacts list

You can also remove a contact by deleting them from your phone's address book, and then tapping Refresh in your "Contacts" screen, as described above.

In addition, you can invite someone to become your contact through text message, email, or another messaging service.  To do so, start by tapping the Contacts category.

Inviting people to be your WhatsApp contacts

If someone is already in your address book but doesn't have WhatsApp yet, you can invite them to WhatsApp by tapping Invite beside their name, and then sending them a text message with a hyperlink that lets them download and install the app.

You can also tap Invite Friends to bring up a list of programs that you can use to invite contacts to WhatsApp, including Gmail, Google Hangouts, ChatOn, or (like we mentioned above) your phone's text messaging function.  Tap your choice, type in who you want to send the pre-crafted invitation to, and then send it off!  When they download and install the app, and sign up for an account, you'll automatically add them as a contact!

How to call or send messages to a contact on WhatsApp

  1. Tap the Contacts category, and tap the contact whom you wish to call or send a message to.

    Starting a chat with a WhatsApp contact

  2. A chat window will appear with a history of the messages that you have sent back and forth.  (You can also access this by tapping the Chats category on the main WhatsApp screen, and then tapping your contact or group's name).

    Options for sending a WhatsApp message

    Tap the box labelled "Type a Message" to begin sending a text message to your contact. 

    You can also tap the camera icon to take a picture with your phone, and send that as a message.  (Tap the blue button in the bottom-middle to take the picture, and then tap the box labelled "Add a Caption" and type in a description, and then tap the checkmark icon.  Tap the "X" icon if you need to retake the picture.)

    You can even send a voice message by pressing and holding on the microphone icon.  Then, say what you want your message to be, and then release your finger.  If you want to cancel your message while you're recording it, simply slide your finger to the left.

  3. While sending a text message, you can use the (virtual) keyboard on your phone to type it out.  You can also tap the smiley face icon to select an emoticon to add to your message (tap to select a category, and then tap an emoticon to add it).  When you're done writing your message, tap the paper airplane icon on the right to send it.

    Sending a WhatsApp text message

  4. Messages sent and received will appear in the main screen, along with when they were sent.  Messages from you will be on the right, and messages from your contact (or other contacts in the group) will be on the left.  A checkmark will appear beside a message if its recipient has read it (and the "Read Receipts" function is turned on).

    Other WhatsApp chat options

    At the top of the screen, you can tap the phone icon to start a phone call with your contact, or tap the paper clip icon to send a file to your contact.  You can send a photo, video, audio file, GPS location (if your phone has a GPS locator and it's enabled), or contact information. 

    If you select to send a photo or audio file, you can send an existing one on your phone, or you can create a new one on the spot with WhatsApp!  Likewise, you can record a video on the spot and send it to your contact via WhatsApp!

How to block a WhatsApp contact

While you are in a chat with someone, you can block them if they are harassing or threatening you.  This will prevent them from sending you messages (and vice-versa), and will also prevent them from seeing any changes to your profile (including your picture, status, and whether you're online or not).

To block a WhatsApp contact, start a chat with them (i.e. tap the Contacts category, and then tap their name).  Then, tap the "Other Options" icon (the three white dots), and then tap More.  Finally, in the new menu that appears, tap Block.  To unblock a contact, simply repeat this process.

Blocking or unblocking a WhatsApp contact

Note that if you and any contact that you have blocked are part of one or more of the same groups, you will both still be able to see messages that the other has sent to the group(s).  If you wish to avoid this, you must exit the group(s).  

How to change your WhatsApp status

WhatsApp allows you to have a personal status message that lets your contacts know what you're currently doing.  You can use this, for instance, to let them know that you are busy doing something, don't want to be disturbed, or are available to chat.  You can use a pre-made status, or create a custom one.

To change your WhatsApp status:

  1. On the main screen, tap "More Options" (the three white dots), and then tap Status.

    Viewing your WhatsApp status

  2. Tap an option below "Select Your New Status", or tap the pencil icon to create a custom status.

    Selecting a new WhatsApp status

  3. If you choose to create a custom status, type it in, including selecting any emoticons that you want to add to it.  Then tap OK.

    Creating a custom WhatsApp status

Your custom status can be up to 139 characters long; the number beside your message will tell you how many you have remaining.  To select an emoticon to add to your status message, tap the smiley face icon, then tap the category of emoticon that you're looking for, and then tap the emoticon that you want to use.  An emoticon counts as 2 characters towards the maximum length of your status.


Alright!  You now know some of the basic ways in which you can use WhatsApp.  Continue on to the next lessons in our course to learn how to do advanced things like delete messages, chat with groups of people, and search for contacts or messages.

How to Create a WhatsApp Account

Once you've downloaded and installed WhatsApp (either from your phone's default application store or from the download page on the WhatsApp website), you only have one thing left to do before you can start using it: create your account!  This lesson will walk you through doing so, from verifying your phone number to setting up your user profile.

To create a WhatsApp account:

  1. Turn on your mobile phone and launch WhatsApp.

  2. Agree to WhatsApp's terms of service.

  3. Verify your phone number via text message.

  4. Pick a user name and (optionally) profile picture.

  5. Wait for WhatsApp to finish setting up your account, and then tap Continue.

Those are the basic steps that you need to take.  If they're a little too vague for you, we have a full description below, complete with screenshots to show you what to look for.

Detailed instructions for how to create a Whatsapp account

  1. Turn on your mobile phone, find the WhatsApp program, and tap it to launch it.

    Starting the WhatsApp app

  2. When WhatsApp first opens, you can tap Terms of Service to read the rules for what you can or can't do with WhatsApp (or what WhatsApp can or can't do when you use it).  Tap Agree and Continue when you're done.

    Accepting the WhatsApp terms and conditions

  3. Since WhatsApp works through phone numbers, it will send you a text message to help you verify your own phone number.  To receive it, tap the top highlighted box and select your country from the menu (this will set your country code).  Then, tap the box that says "Phone Number" and use your (virtual) phone keyboard to type in your phone number.  Then tap OK.  (Tap OK again in the window that pops up to confirm this.)

    Verifying your phone number in WhatsApp

  4. WhatsApp will now wait for your phone to receive a text message.  If you made a mistake and want to change the number that you're sending the text message to, tap the pencil icon beside your phone number to edit it (repeat step 3). 

    Receiving a verification text from WhatsApp

    Once you get a text message from WhatsApp, you will automatically move on to the next step.

  5. You will now have to begin setting up your profile information. 

    Creating your WhatsApp profile

    Tap the box that says "Type Your Name Here" (it may just say "My Info") and type in a user name for yourself on WhatsApp that is no longer than 25 characters.  Tap the smiley face beside this box if you wish to choose an emoticon to use as part of your user name (most emoticons count as 2 characters).

    You can also tap the blank profile picture in the top-left corner if you wish to add an optional profile picture for yourself.  You can add it from your phone's camera roll, or from other images stored on your phone.  (If your picture is sufficiently large, you will need to move and crop the frame to decide how much of your picture you want to use.)

    When you're ready to move on, tap Next.

  6. WhatsApp will do a few housekeeping things to get your account ready.  When it's done, tap Continue.

    Finish setting up WhatsApp

You should be taken to the main menu for WhatsApp.  Congratulations!  You've successfully set up your very own WhatsApp account!  Now, check out our next tutorial because it's time to learn how to start actually using the app!

How to Download and Install WhatsApp

The first thing that you will want to do if you want to use WhatsApp is to actually download the program to your mobile phone and install it.  For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using a phone that runs the Android operating system.  The process for an Apple iOS device (such as an iPhone) or Windows Phone will be slightly different, but not too much so.

If you can’t find WhatsApp on your phone’s default application store, visit this page on your phone’s web browser to download WhatsApp for any platform.

To download and install WhatsApp:

  1. Turn on your mobile device and tap Play Store or App Store to launch it.

  2. Search for “WhatsApp Messenger”.

  3. Tap Install (or Get and then Install) beside the WhatsApp program.

  4. Tap Accept to give the necessary device permissions to WhatsApp.

  5. When WhatsApp finishes downloading, tap Open to launch it.

If you can figure out what to do from these short instructions, then great!  If not, read on, and we’ll walk you through the process with extra details and screenshots of where to go.

Detailed instructions on how to download and install WhatsApp

  1. Turn on your mobile phone.  Find the Google Play / Play Store program (it will be called App Store on an iPhone) and tap it to open it.

    Open the Google Play store

  2. Tap the search box near the top of the screen and use your virtual keyboard to type in “whatsapp”.  A menu should drop down with some search suggestions; tap the one labelled WhatsApp Messenger.

    Searching the Google Play store for WhatsApp

  3. You should be taken to a page with information about WhatsApp (and perhaps similar applications).  Tap Install (or, on an iPhone, tap Get, and then tap Install).

    Press this button to install WhatsApp

  4. On an Android device, you will be notified of what parts of your phone WhatsApp might need access to in order to function properly.  Just tap Accept.

    Giving WhatsApp permissions on your phone

    If you’re using an iOS device, you may be asked to log into your Apple Account before you go any further.  Do so, or if you don’t have an Apple Account, click this link and follow the instructions in order to set one up.

  5. Once WhatsApp has finished downloading, tap Open to launch it.

    Opening WhatsApp after installing it

There!  You now have WhatsApp downloaded and ready to use on your mobile phone.  There’s just one more thing that you need to do to get started: check out our next tutorial that will show you how to create a WhatsApp account!