How To

What is Facebook Messenger, how to use it?

What is Facebook Messenger, how to use it?
Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

  • Updated:

Facebook Messenger is a free messaging app from Meta’s stable of communication and productivity software. Basically, the messaging function on Facebook was so successful that Meta decided it needed to be a standalone, more functional application. So apart from a way to send messages, what is Facebook Messenger, and how do you use it?

This article will take a peek under the iconic blue Facebook Messenger symbol and explain what this messaging app can do. We’ll take a look at features, functionality, aesthetics, and even list a few things you may not have known the app can do. Prepare to see Facebook Messenger as you’ve never seen it before.

What Is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is a messaging and communication application for keeping in touch with your nearest and dearest. Send text messages, photos, videos, voice notes, and even location pins, and do it all for free. 

What is Facebook Messenger, how to use it

How Does Facebook Messenger Work?

Facebook Messenger uses your Facebook friends list as an address book. That way, you don’t need to import or add contacts or even manually input mobile numbers. Facebook Messenger even lets you use it as your default SMS app. You can do everything in one easy-to-use interface. 

The Basics of Facebook Messenger

Using Facebook Messenger is as easy as downloading the app for your mobile device. Once the app is downloaded to your device, you can log in with your Facebook credentials. If you’re already logged in to Facebook on your device, Messenger will give you an option to just click the ‘continue as’ button.

If you want to sign in with a different username, click the button underneath that says ‘this isn’t me.’ From here, you’ll be able to enter the credentials of the Facebook account you want to log in to, and you’re good to go. 

What is Facebook Messenger, how to use it

How to use Facebook Messenger

You probably read that Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and are now thinking, ‘I have a messaging app; why do I need to download another one?‘ For starters, most messaging apps require you to enter your phone number to get started, which means waiting for an OTP to reach your phone, setting up a whole new app, choosing the perfect photo for your profile, and a cute and informative ‘about’ message.

Facebook Messenger lets you skip this process. Your contacts are your Facebook friends, your verification and login information are your Facebook credentials, and your profile photo is imported automatically from Facebook. 

Functionality Features

As you’d expect from a modern messaging app, Facebook Messenger gives you much more than just texting. You have access to all the staples available on other platforms, like texting, video calls, voice notes, location pins, and emojis. But Facebook Messenger is in its own class. For a start, phone calls are now free. 

Any calls you make through Messenger carry the same charge as messages you send; no charge at all. While calls are limited to Facebook contacts at this stage, some features below lead us to believe Facebook might be messing with the default general phone call function in the near future. Let’s take a look at what else makes Messenger unique. 

Default Texting Facility

Facebook Messenger can take the place of your phone’s default short messaging system or texting functionality. This is groundbreaking; you no longer need that pesky message icon that relies on a dedicated SMS bundle in your data plan. And we all know if you need to send an SMS and you don’t have it worked into your monthly plan, you fork out a small fortune for each tet you send. This is because texts don’t use your data balance. Facebook Messenger, however, does. 

Send texts to anyone, anywhere from the Messenger app, and use your data. There is no more need for a dedicated texting plan and no extra costs from texts you sent but didn’t work into your budget. When you open Messenger the first time, it will ask you if you want to use it as your default messaging system. Should you say yes, your texts will be diverted to your Messenger home interface. There is, however, a separate tab for texts so that you don’t have to scroll through Facebook chats to get to a particular message. 

Hidden Messages

Tired of being bombarded on other messaging apps by people you don’t know? Switch to the safety of Facebook Messenger. Messages from people you don’t have any connection with on Facebook are moved to a dedicated folder in your Messenger app. You can easily access this folder through the app’s main interface, but you won’t receive notifications that they’re there. Check on them from time to time to see if it’s anything worthwhile, and instantly delete those you’re not interested in replying to. 

With social media giving people so much access to each other’s lives, cyberbullying has become an even bigger problem. A well-known tactic is for someone to message you because they enjoy your content and get increasingly nasty and abrasive if you don’t respond.

Now you can simply delete offensive messages before they can affect your inner peace. Another brilliant feature is that the other person won’t know that you’ve read their message or that it’s been deleted unless you respond. 


Aesthetics are important in the digital age. Not only do we want apps and programs to perform well, but we also want them to be less intrusive and have a better effect on our moods. Researchers have studied the profound impact colors have on the human psyche, and now, you can benefit from that research. 

The ability to change chat colors is something not all messaging apps have. Facebook Messenger lets you select between flat colors and themes for your chats. Another reason this is an incredible innovation is that you can now color-code your conversations, using a different color for family, friends, workplace colleagues, or international penpals you’ve made on Facebook. The choice is completely yours.

Innovatively, Facebook Messenger now offers specifically curated themes with each update. One update featured themes inspired by Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour, and another used beautiful blues and turquoise hues to celebrate Worl Oceans Day.

You also now have access to animated and static stickers. Over and above the well-known emojis, stickers are a way to communicate without words. Fun animations are another way Facebook Messenger rewards the senses of its users. Each animation comes with its own sound effects, and you activate them by using select emoji.

For instance, using a singular heart emoji will briefly send hearts and bubble effects over your screen. The same effect happens on the other side when someone opens that message. You also now have the option to frame your texts with dynamic animation. 

Due to it being the Messenger powered by Facebook, your Facebook avatar, a little cartoon likeness of yourself that you make, can be used as a sticker in your chats. All visual add-ons like gifs, stickers, and frames are obtained through the ribbon directly above the text box.

Another nifty feature is the ability to use nicknames on Facebook Messenger. We all have nicknames, and if you cant use them, what’s the point, right? Now you can. You can set your own nickname and funny nicknames for people you talk to. Nicknames take effect across Facebook once set. Think of it as a little inside joke between you and your closest. 


Facebook Messenger lets you set a go-to emoji. The default setting is the classic Facebook thumbs-up, but you can set it to anything you like. Here’s a hint: Set the emoji to the basketball and start an actual game of basketball with your friends or family. You can even initiate this basketball game on a group chat. 

If you don’t want to miss out on the latest news, views, and how-tos, why not initiate a conversation with one of Facebook Messenger’s dedicated chatbots? Choose between news updates from your favorite media platforms to bots that give you daily horoscopes, recipes, celebrity updates, and even bots inspired by celebrities themselves. Use the bot search function, and maybe you’ll be able to chat to one of your favorite celebrities, historical figures, or characters from literature and popular culture. 

If your device is a little heavy on used space already, you can simply select the Facebook Messenger Lite app and get the same easy free messaging functionality for a fraction of the space. Because it’s much smaller, it does have slightly reduced functionality, but it works smoothly and is one of the best ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and co-workers.

What is Facebook Messenger, how to use it

Facebook Messenger Lite: As Good as Messenger?

The team at Meta loves giving users access to smaller lite versions of their most successful apps. Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram have all been given the lite treatment. Even apps not owned by Meta have gone to the lite side. Apps like Skype, Google, Pinterest, and even many browsers all have lite options. While lite is marketed as a space-saving option, lite apps work better than their full-size variants in poor network conditions and low-cost devices. So what’s the difference?


Messenger Lite doesn’t support animations. This isn’t a massive concession when you get better connectivity in all network conditions, but it matters to some. Animations require stronger connections and more memory, so, understandably, the lighter version of the app doesn’t support them. 


Stories are a way to keep track of your Facebook friends’ lives. Offered by Instagram and Whatsapp as well, stories are short-form videos that you can upload. These have proved brilliant ways to advertise products and get the word out about any business you’re doing, as well as a great way to share moments from your daily life. Messenger Lite doesn’t support stories. This is also largely due to the memory chunk needed to process videos and the network strength videos require. 

Chat Heads

Chat Heads is a nifty feature of Facebook Messenger. Any chats you have open will appear as little head icons on your device’s home screen once Messenger is minimized. You can move these aptly named Chat Heads around and essentially have one-touch access to any number of active chats. To save space, Messenger Lite does not support Chat Heads. While it’s sometimes fun to flick faces around your screen, this is not the end of the world. 

The fact is that Messenger Lite is just as functional as its feature-loaded alternative. All critical functions, including messaging, phone calls, video calls, and the ability to send location pins and various media, are still very much a part of the Messenger Lite experience.

Facebook Messenger tips, tricks, and guides

For even more amazing features of Facebook Messenger, check out the links below:

Send messages to your contacts

While Facebook Messenger has been around for a long time, many new features have appeared to help it compete with other messaging apps. It still remains one of the top ways to connect with your FB contacts and keep in touch with family.

Russell Kidson

Russell Kidson

I hail from the awe-inspiring beauty of South Africa. Born and raised in Pretoria, I've always had a deep interest in local history, particularly conflicts, architecture, and our country's rich past of being a plaything for European aristocracy. 'Tis an attempt at humor. My interest in history has since translated into hours at a time researching everything from the many reasons the Titanic sank (really, it's a wonder she ever left Belfast) to why Minecraft is such a feat of human technological accomplishment. I am an avid video gamer (Sims 4 definitely counts as video gaming, I checked) and particularly enjoy playing the part of a relatively benign overlord in Minecraft. I enjoy the diverse experiences gaming offers the player. Within the space of a few hours, a player can go from having a career as an interior decorator in Sims, to training as an archer under Niruin in Skyrim. I believe video games have so much more to teach humanity about community, kindness, and loyalty, and I enjoy the opportunity to bring concepts of the like into literary pieces.

Latest from Russell Kidson

Editorial Guidelines