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What's WhatsApp?

Whilst there's nothing wrong with using text messages and phone calls to keep in touch, many people now use WhatsApp to send messages and make calls. It's an easy way to stay connected with loved ones and to send and receive photos and videos.


Where do I get WhatsApp?

You can download WhatsApp to your smartphone. If you have an iPhone or iPad, then you'll need to use the App Store, and if you have an Android phone or tablet then it's the Play Store. It doesn't cost anything to download WhatsApp.

Read our guide to downloading apps for more information.


Is WhatsApp free?

WhatsApp is free to download from the App Store or Play Store. It uses your phone's internet connection and allows you to send unlimited messages, pictures and videos, so you don't need to worry about using up your allocated text or call allowances.

However, you may end up being charged extra if you go over your data allowance, so it's a good idea to connect to Wi-Fi if you're using WhatsApp for things that use a lot of data, like video calls or downloading videos.

You can check on how much data you are using through WhatsApp:


How do I use WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is simple to use once you get the hang of it. It's a messaging app, so it works in a similar way to texting. This video shows you how to get started on WhatsApp, including how to add contacts from your phone.

How to send messages on WhatsApp:

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone.
  2. Click the chats tab.
  3. Tap the green circle with a messaging icon on the bottom right of your screen.
  4. Choose a contact from your list or click the magnifying glass icon and type the name of the person you want to message.
  5. Start chatting! The messages you send appear with a green background and once the person you’re chatting with has seen a message, two blue ticks will appear next to it.
  6. The messages you receive will have a grey background on the left-hand side of your screen.

There are extra features you can use, like sending photos:

  1. Open a conversation with the person you want to send a photo to.
  2. Send an image you've already taken by tapping on the paperclip icon, then gallery, and choosing a photo.
  3. Or you can tap on the camera icon, which lets you take a photo and send it immediately.

Sharing photos can be a great way to feel closer to people, even when you're not able to meet up.


Can I make phone calls over WhatsApp?

You can also use WhatsApp to make phone calls. Using WhatsApp will mean that you don’t use up your allocated minutes in your phone contract, and because it uses the internet, you can even call people who live abroad at no extra cost.

How to make a phone call:

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone.
  2. Click the calls tab.
  3. Press the green icon showing a phone with a plus symbol next to it.
  4. Choose a contact from your list to call or click the magnifying glass icon and type the name of the person you want to call.
  5. Click the symbol that looks like a phone next to their name to start calling.
  6. To end the call, just click the red phone icon.

Remember: Make sure you are connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before doing a phone call, otherwise you may incur additional charges from your mobile phone network if you aren't connected to Wi-Fi.


Can I make video calls over WhatsApp?

Video calling can be a nicer way of chatting with others than just a phone call, because it lets you see the person you're talking to, and them see you.

How to make a video call on WhatsApp:

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone.
  2. Click the calls tab.
  3. Press the icon showing a phone with a plus symbol next to it.
  4. Click the green magnifying glass icon and type the name of the person you want to call.
  5. Click the symbol that looks like a camera next to their name to start video calling.
  6. You can add up to four other people into a video call to turn it into a group chat. During the video call, click the add participant icon and search for their name to add them.
  7. To end the call, just click the red phone icon.

Remember: Make sure you are connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before doing a video call. Video calling uses a lot of data and could result in additional charges from your mobile phone network if you aren't connected to Wi-Fi.


What’s a WhatsApp group?

You can message multiple people at once in a WhatsApp group. This is really handy if you want to chat with a few family members, neighbours, or members of a club or group.

Someone you know might add you to a WhatsApp group if they have your number, or you can set up your own group:

  1. Tap the green circle with a messaging icon on the bottom right of your screen.
  2. Click new group.
  3. Choose participants from your contact list.
  4. Add a name for the group.
  5. You can even choose an image for the group by tapping on the camera icon.
  6. Start chatting! Everyone in the group will be sent the message at once.


Is WhatsApp safe?

Your messages and calls are automatically protected by something called 'end-to-end encryption'. This means that only you and the person you're chatting with can read what is sent.

But as with everything online, there are risks to be aware of, including scams, viruses and misinformation. Here are some tips for staying safe using WhatsApp:

  • Only message people you know. Anyone with your number can send you a message or add you to a WhatsApp group, so make sure that you know and trust them before chatting to them.
  • Don't click on links or download files sent from people who aren't contacts. These could contain viruses or take you to fake websites that are set up by scammers to get your personal or financial information.
  • Look out for misinformation. False claims or fake stories can spread easily online. WhatsApp has created a list of tips to limit the spread of rumours or fake news. Read the tips here.
  • Make sure you're using the most up-to-date version. Find out how to check this and download any updates to WhatsApp in our guide on downloading apps.

 

Looking for a computer training class?

The majority of our local Age UKs provide computer training, making getting online simple and enjoyable.

For more information call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602.
We’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.

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Last updated: Nov 02 2020

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