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10 WhatsApp tricks you should know about

One of the world’s most popular messaging platforms, WhatsApp has gone from strength to strength since its 2011 launch, eventually being swallowed by the giant known as Facebook.

Whether you’re a newbie or just not tech-savvy, here are a few cool tricks you should know about.

How to italicise/strike through/bold words

The platform introduced the ability to format text a while back, so how do you do this then?

To italicise a word or sentence, you’ll simply need to add an underscore (_) to either side of the word/sentence. Bolding is a similar affair, as you add an asterisk (*) on either side. And yes, creating a strikethrough is pretty much the same thing, albeit by adding a tilde (~) on either side of your desired word/sentence.

Quote a message in your response

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Did you know you can respond to certain messages (and quote them in the process) instead of a general response in a chat?

To do so, you’ll need to hold down on the relevant message, then tap the arrow pointing to the left (the one next to the star) to create a quoted message.

This is useful if you’re in a group and would like to respond to a specific person. Or maybe you and your contact exchange messages at breakneck speed. Whatever the case, this is a nifty solution.

Mute a contact/group

Maybe a contact is annoying or maybe you’re just getting hit with a flood of messages in a group chat. Whatever the case may be, there’s an easy solution.

All you need to do is hold down on the desired contact/group and select the speaker icon with the strikethrough. This will then bring up another menu, asking you to set the duration of the mute (eight hours, a week, a year) and whether notifications should be shown anyway.

Enable security notifications

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This is another one that you could do without, but security-conscious people will want to investigate it nonetheless.

Enabling this setting merely means that you’ll get a notification when a contact’s “security code” changes. A changed code could mean that their account has been compromised or that they have a new phone. Either way, it’s nice to know the option is there.

To enable security notifications, visit “settings”, “account”, “security” and then enable “show security notifications”. And that’s it.

Star messages/media to save for later viewing

Yep, quite a few people know about this feature too, but it’s useful anyway. Want to save a contact’s message for later? Then hold down on the relevant message and tap the star icon to add it to your “starred messages” directory.

To access your saved messages, you’ll want to tap the ellipsis (three dots) in the top-right corner of the main menu and choose (surprise) “starred messages”.

Is WhatsApp down? Find out within the app

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Another obvious but not so obvious feature is the ability to check the server status of WhatsApp from within the service.

To do so, you’ll want to visit “about and help” in the “settings” menu. From there, simply tap the “system status” field to get an update.

Manually back up your chat log

WhatsApp does a good job of saving your chats to the cloud, so in the event that you lose your phone, all won’t be lost.

But there are times when you might want to save manually (such as if you want the very latest data before switching phones), and this is pretty easy to do.

To save your chat log manually, visit “settings”, “chats” and “chat backup”. From here, you’ll want to hit the “back up” button. But we recommend you do this over WiFi, as it’ll use a lot of pricey mobile data otherwise.

Change your number, keep your profile/settings/contacts

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In the early days of WhatsApp, changing your number often meant that you’d lose a lot of data in the process. Fortunately, things are easier nowadays.

To change your number to a new one, visit “settings”, “account” and “change number”. You’ll then need to confirm that your new number is active (i.e. receiving texts and calls) before proceeding.

Add contact shortcuts to your homescreen

You don’t need to dive into the app to talk to your favourite contact, as you can simply set them to your phone’s homescreen instead.

To do this, you’ll want to long-press the contact, tap the ellipsis and choose “add chat shortcut”. Voila.

Get the bleeding-edge version of WhatsApp (which supports GIFs)

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Want the latest and greatest WhatsApp features before anyone else? Then you should check out the WhatsApp Beta programme (you can register for it over here).

Once you’ve registered to become a tester, you’ll then need to make sure you’re running the latest version of WhatsApp from the Play Store and wait for the beta update to be pushed to you. The beta update might take a few hours to be rolled out to you though.

It’s worth noting that this version is a beta version obviously, so expect some bugs and instability.

Author | Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings over seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More