The WhatsApp questions you were too embarrassed to ask, answered

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WhatsApp is simple enough in theory. It’s a messaging application with voice and video call support. But that’s merely its elevator pitch.

When diving down into its many settings and features, WhatsApp can be tailored to your needs provided you know exactly how to tame it.

If you’re someone who hates visiting FAQs or haven’t really tweaked a messaging service before, this article’s for you.

How do I change by WhatsApp number, and inform my contacts?

If you have a new smartphone number and don’t want to sacrifice your contacts, groups or settings from your old number, there’s a setting that allows you to transfer your account to the new number.

To change your WhatsApp number, you’ll need to:

  • Hit the hamburger/three dot menu in the top right of the app.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Account.
  • Select Change number.

For this method, you’ll need to have both numbers at hand. Your new number would also need to be activated with your network. More importantly, the account associated with your old number will be deleted after the process completes.

“If you have both a new phone and a new number, first change your number on your old phone,” WhatsApp adds in the app.

Hit “Next” and then add both your new and old numbers.

To notify your contacts that your number has changed, WhatsApp will give you three options on the next screen.

  • You can notify all contacts on your device.
  • You can notify the contacts you’re currently chatting to.
  • You can notify select contacts in your address book.

WhatsApp will then tell you how many contacts you’ll notify, but regardless of your selection above all your groups will automatically be notified that your number has changed.

How do I format my messages with bold or italic text?

Messages can be formatted by marking the entire string, or specific words, with special characters. For example:

  • To make an entire message bold, use * at the beginning and end of the message.
    • Example: *This message is pretty bold*
  • To italicise an entire message, use _ at the beginning and end of the message.
    • Example: _This message is looking a bit slanted_
  • To strikethrough an entire message, use ~ at the beginning and end of the message.
    • Example: ~This message now has a line through it~

If you wish to format a specific word, use the special character before the first letter and after the last letter of the word.

If you prefer using menus, users can:

  • Type a message.
  • Select the text of the message.
  • Hamburger menu (the three vertical dots at the right hand side of the menu bar that just popped up)
  • Select your desired formatting.

How can I forward messages to other people or groups?

  • Find the message you wish to forward.
  • Tap and hold that message.
  • Select the rightmost arrow on the top bar.
  • Select the contact you wish to receive the message.
  • Send.

Can I use one WhatsApp profile across multiple phones?

No, if you plan to use the same number across two devices.

WhatsApp doesn’t allow this functionality and there’s no indication that the service will in the future. Your mobile number is linked to your account, so when you activate the service on one device using that particular number, it will only be available on that device.

You can however use something like WhatsApp Web, explained in a later paragraph. It’s clumsy, but definitely doable.

There’s also no dual SIM support for WhatsApp through the default app, but there are other methods, like cloner or parallel apps, or the secondary Android profile workaround outlined here by HackerNews.

How to I copy messages?

  • Find the message you wish to copy.
  • Tap and hold that message.
  • Select the icon of two rectangles overlapping (it should be the second icon from the right on the top bar).
  • A pop up should appear that reads “message copied”.
  • The message is now on your clipboard.

How can I use WhatsApp on the PC?

There are two options. Firstly, through a web browser of your choice on any operating system of your choice, from MacOS to Linux to Windows.

  • Navigate to WhatsApp Web.
  • Scan the verification QR code using your WhatsApp smartphone app.
  • You’ll be logged in within a few seconds.

Secondly, you can use a Windows 10 app.

Are there any Windows 10 apps for WhatsApp?

Yes. I use WhosDown, which is effectively a single-page web browser that runs WhatsApp Web in a window. You can also download the official WhatsApp app.

Can I use WhatsApp Web on a mobile phone?

Theoretically, yes.

Most browsers like Firefox and Chrome can request the web version of pages on mobile devices. Check that option, navigate to WhatsApp Web on your smartphone browser, scan the QR code, and it should log you into the service on the device.

It’s not a good way to use the service on a smartphone though, but may be more appropriate for tablets.

How can I change the wallpaper?

  • Hamburger Menu (the icon at the very top-right of the WhatsApp window alongside the magnifying glass, also known as the three-dot menu).
  • Settings.
  • Chats.
  • Wallpaper.
  • You can then select an image or solid colour here.

How do I back up my messages and images?

  • Hamburger Menu.
  • Settings.
  • Chats.
  • Chat Backup.

You’ll need to input your Google account details into WhatsApp to back up to Google Drive. The more images and videos you have, the larger the backup store will be.

Can I create custom notifications for important contacts?


  • Tap and hold on a contact.
  • Hamburger Menu.
  • View Contact.
  • Custom notifications.

The app will let you set a number of parameters, including notification light colour, notification popup style and message tone.

Should I enable two-step verification?

Yes, even though it is a pain to use with multiple devices. If you have a single phone though, enable it. If you log into WhatsApp on a new phone, the service will request that you input a code before continuing. You’ll therefore need your phone number, and a code, adding another layer of security.

Read more about how to enable it here.

How do I request a copy of my account info like Facebook and Instagram?

  • Hamburger menu.
  • Settings.
  • Account.
  • Request account info.

Is there a way to sync WhatsApp Stories with Instagram Stories?

No, not at the moment, unless you save your WhatsApp Stories as video to your device. You’ll then need to reupload said video to Instagram Stories.

Do you have a question about WhatsApp you were too afraid to ask someone? Drop us a tweet or mail and we’ll ask your answered query to this piece.

Feature image: Andy Walker/Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


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