WhatsApp 101. (Technical Writing)

WhatsApp is an excellent phone app for communicating with friends, family, and coworkers. The ability to have one-on-one conversations, group chats, send images, videos, and sound clips, make it a valuable tool in modern society, especially in our current time of maintaining social distance. 

If you need more detailed instructions for any part of the guide below then please click on any relevant word which is highlighted in blue. This is a hyperlink that will take you to a separate document which will further detail anything regarding the selected word.

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The key to WhatsApps’ success is its ease of use. One you have downloaded the app from your mobile store of choice, setting up conversations takes only a few seconds.

Your WhatsApp home screen will look something like this. All of your conversations will be displayed here. On your first use though, you won’t have any contacts or conversations, so this screen will be empty. To add contacts and start talking, simply click on the green circle indicated below.

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This takes you to the Contact screen. All of the people you have added will show up here. 

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To start a conversation, you will first need to add a contact by clicking the ‘New Contact’ button circled below.

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You will now see the ‘New Contact’ screen. This is where you add the name, phone number, and any other details for the person you want to speak with. The mobile phone number is the only necessary information needed, so make sure you have access to your contact’s phone number before trying to add them.

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Once you are happy with the contact’s details, simply click on the small tick in the upper right of your screen and that contact will be saved.

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Now that you have a contact, you can begin talking. Tap on your contact’s name from the ‘Select Contact’ screen and you will be taken to a fresh chat page for that contact.

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From here you can:

Type messages in the bottom text box.

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Attach files by clicking the paperclip icon.

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Take photos, select pictures saved to your phone, or send video clips, by tapping the camera icon.

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Record voice clips by holding down the green microphone button.

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Start a phone call by tapping the phone icon at the top of the screen.

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Or a video call by tapping the image of a video camera.

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All of this enables you to keep in contact with whoever you need to, in any way that best suits your needs and situations. 

But sometimes you will need to communicate with multiple people about a single topic or project. This requires the creation of a Group. 

To create a Group, return to the ‘Select Contact’ screen and tap on the ‘Create Group’ button at the top.

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This will take you to a list of all of your contacts. Make sure that you have added everyone that you want in a group as an individual contact already via the instructions above.

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Tap on each contact that you want to add to the group, then once everyone you want in the group has been selected, tap the green arrow button in the bottom right of the screen.

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Once you have named the group, you will now be able to communicate with everyone in the group with the same ease and access to tools as an individual chat. 

For both individual and group chats, you will receive a notification every time a message is sent to you or a group you are a member of. This is useful for keeping up to date with conversations but can interrupt your day if too many messages are being sent that don’t require your immediate attention. 

If this is the case then you can mute conversations by tapping on the three dots icon in the upper right of any chat screen. This will bring up a small menu. One of the options will be ‘Mute notifications’.

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The other people in the conversation won’t know that you have muted them, and all messages will still appear in the chat, you just won’t be notified. This means you can read new messages in your own time.

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