How Does Facebook Messenger Work? – The Easy Guide

Have you had a look at Facebook Messenger but don’t really know what’s going on? I was like that too. It’s a bit embarassing.

Don’t worry I have created this guide to help you understand how Facebook Messenger works in an easy to follow way.

By the time your done you’ll be working it like a pro!

This guide explains its features and provides tips to navigate the app. Everything you need to know about Facebook Messenger.

It is laid out to cover everything to get you started. You can follow the links in each section for more in depth information. I have covered quite a bit about using Messenger.

Let’s get started!

how does Facebook messenger work

What Is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is a free app that you can use to chat with people and groups you know and want to connect with. You can download it on Android as well as iOS.

An important thing to know about Messenger is that it is directly linked with Facebook. If you are someone who frequently uses Facebook and wants to privately connect with your friends, then Messenger is a must have for you.

In fact, chatting through Facebook is now only possible through Messenger. But I have a guide on how to use Messenger without Facebook.

This however, doesn’t mean that you cannot use Messenger if you have deactivated your Facebook account. There are ways around this issue that will be discussed below.

It has now also been linked to apps like Instagram.

How Do I Start?

Once you have downloaded the app on your device (phone or tablet), you are now ready to launch it and set it up. Simply open the app and enter your details to sign in.

If you want to use a different account on Messenger instead of your main Facebook account, you can do so using your phone number or a different Facebook account.

After this step, you might be asked to fill in some other details about yourself such as contact details, username and more. You can also choose to turn the notifications on or keep them off for the app. You can change your settings whenever you want.

When this process is over, you will find that all your Facebook friends will now appear in alphabetical order in your address book.

How to Send a Message on Messenger?

After you have logged in, get right to it! Start talking to a friend and allow yourself to get acquainted with the process.

To do this, click on the icon that looks like a pencil on the top right corner of the app.

You can either search for a contact manually or select one from the list that will appear below.

If you want to create a group for your friends, colleagues or family, you can do that by tapping on the ‘Create a New Group’ option which you will be able to see after clicking on the pencil icon.

Now that you have chosen the person you want to send a message to, all you need to do is start typing in the box that appears at the bottom of the chat window.

You can also send pictures, videos, voice messages, GIFs, location, stickers and emoticons to the recipient. You also have the option of starting voice or video calls with them.

If you want to react to an individual message that someone has sent, press that message for a few seconds and choose from the series of emoticons that pop up.

How Do I Know If My Message Was Read?

After you have sent your message, the recipient will usually receive the message immediately if they are connected to the internet and the app.

There are different icons that indicate the status of your message. See my article – Facebook Messenger Symbols Explained for a more in depth guide.

These icons appear right next to your message after you sent it. For instance, a blue circular outline means that the message is being sent and a filled blue circle with a check mark means that your message was received but may not have been read or opened.

In some cases, these icons may differ as well. If you are not friends on Facebook with the other person, they may only be able to read your message if they go to their ‘Message Requests’ option.

The same thing applies to you if you receive a message from a stranger.

Further, if you have blocked someone, they will not be able to send you any messages. This also means that you cannot message someone who has blocked you.

How to Have a Group Chat on Messenger?

You can have conversations with multiple people. To find these conversations, simply go to the ‘Chats’ section on the app.

You can also ‘Create a New Group’ if you want to talk to multiple people in the same chat. These groups can include your friends, family or colleagues. You can also leave any group when you no longer want to be a part of it.

How Do I Call People?

If you want to talk to your contacts on Messenger through voice or video calls, you can do so by clicking on the name of the individual or group you want to call.

After this, click on the voice call or video call icon on the top right corner of the chat.


What Is the ‘Create Room’ Feature?

A room refers to a public group in which you can have different kinds of conversations. If you want to create your own room, click on the icon on the top left corner of the ‘Chats’ section of the app.

You can also end the room when the conversation ends.

What Is Messenger for Kids?

Messenger Kids is an app for kids under the age of 13. They can use this app to send messages and make voice or video calls. They don’t even need to have their own Facebook account. Parents can simply log in through their own accounts.

Since this app is for kids, parents can choose contacts for their kids. In this app, public posts do not exist to avoid contact with strangers.

What Is the ‘Watch Together’ Feature?

Through this feature, users can watch videos, movies or shows together during a group call or in a room. On a video call, you can simply swipe up and tap on the ‘Watch Together’ option.

Up to 8 people can do this on a video call and up to 50 people can access this feature in a Messenger room.

How Do I Connect With Businesses?

If you find businesses that you want to chat with about customer support, making reservations, finding deals and more, you can directly contact them through Messenger.

Usually, a chat option will be available on their Facebook page which will take you straight to the Messenger chat.

How Do I Send Money on Facebook Messenger?

Messenger also allows you to send and receive money in a secure way. For this, you need to link your debit card (Visa/MasterCard) or your PayPal account to Facebook.

You can then log in to Facebook Pay, add your payment methods and set up a PIN.

To send money to your friends or family, tap on the (+) symbol in your chat on Messenger and you will find a payment option.

Some Other Tricks and Features On Facebook Messenger

If you have gone through the above section, you can now easily use Messenger while being well versed with its features.

There are, however, some additional features along with tips and tricks that would be useful to know about. Having this information will make your user experience a lot more seamless and enjoyable.

Let’s find out what these features are and how you can use them.

How Do I Hide My Status?

If you need a break from the constant active conversations on Messenger, one way to do this is by hiding your Active status on the app. See my detailed article How to Hide Your Last Active Status for more information.

Usually, whenever you have live access to Messenger, a small green dot will appear next to your name. Your name will also show up in the ‘Active’ section of the ‘People’ tab.

You can turn this off by going to your settings, clicking on ‘Active Status’ and toggling its status.

Doing so will pop up a message asking you to confirm your decision. If you want to turn this on again, you can simply do that by clicking it again.

However, remember that turning your Active status off will also prevent you from seeing who else is currently online. An alternative is to just appear offline on Messenger using this tutorial.

How Do I Read a Message Without the Sender Knowing?

Unfortunately, Messenger does not allow you to turn off the read icon (represented through your profile photo appearing next to the message).

However, if you still want to read a message that someone has sent you without letting them know, there are a few tricks you can use.

For instance, you can read the message through your notifications without opening the app at all. If the message is a bit longer, however, you might have to ultimately view it from the app.

Another way is to turn on the Airplane mode on your device. If you do this, you will be able to open and read the messages on Messenger itself without the sender finding out.

Another way is to install a spy app on the device. This is useful for parents trying to protect their kids online. See my articles on:

Don’t worry all these articles are aimed at legal and eyhical ways to use monitoring apps. They will also give you a snapshot of how your Facebook can be compromised!

How Do I Hide Previews from My Notifications?

As opposed to the above method of reading messages from your notifications, this method is for hiding those messages from appearing in your notifications.

Usually, when you get a message notification, you can also preview the message from that notification. If you don’t want to see these previews, you can simply turn them off from your ‘Notifications & sounds’ settings on Messenger.

You can either turn notifications off entirely or only turn off the notification previews.

How Do I Delete My Search History?

If you want to delete your recent searches on Messenger, you can click on the search bar, tap ‘Edit’ and then ‘Clear All’ to delete your entire search history. Alternately, you can also tap on the cross next to each name if you only want to delete individuals from your search history.

However, keep in mind that this method only deletes the search history from that particular device.

If you want to delete it from all your devices, you will need to log into your Facebook account, go to your settings, click on ‘Account Settings’ and then on ‘Security and Login’.

Scroll down and find the ‘Where You’re Logged In’ option, find your device and log out from Messenger. You cannot log out directly from the Messenger app. When you log back in, you will find that your recent searches have been deleted.


For a more detailed look see – How to Delete Search History on FB Messenger.

How Do I Delete Chats?

In order to delete your chats from Messenger, you have a few options. See the main guide for more information and how you can change things up.

If you want to delete the entire conversation, you can tap on the chat and hold it for a few seconds. A menu will pop up from which you can either archive the chat (reversible) or delete it entirely (irreversible).

If you only want to delete a few messages from the chat, tap and hold the individual message, select ‘Remove’ and tap on ‘Remove for you’.

You can also choose to unsend the message in this way. Unsending it will remove the message and replace it with text that says ‘You unsent a message’.

How Do I Send Other Media?

If you want to chat using multimedia and not just text, you can do so through images, GIFs, emoticons, stickers, voice messages and voice or video calls.

Go to your chat with your friend and find all the options on either side of the text box. The voice and video call features will be on the top right corner of the chat. Have a look at my guide all about Gifs on Messenger – it explains in detail how to send Gifs on Messenger. If your Gifs aren’t working on Messenger I have a guide on that too!

How Can I Customize My Chats?

On Messenger, you now have the option to customize individual chats.

Go to the chat window and click on the information icon (a circle with an ‘i’ inside it). You will be able to see a bunch of options here.

You can set a color coded theme, set a customized emoji and even set nicknames for each other. You also have the option of creating a secret conversation with that person which will ensure end to end encryption of your chat.

You will also have to tell the other person to enable this feature.

You can also select ‘Ignore messages’ from these options which will move your entire chat to spam. If you do this you will no longer receive notifications from that person.

Additionally, you can choose to block the person from sending messages and calls or from interacting with you entirely even on Facebook. The latter will also remove them from your list of Facebook friends.

See my guide – How to Block or Unblock Someone on Facebook Messenger. You’ll learn a few extra tips there.

Can I Use Messenger without Facebook?

Technically, you require a Facebook account to use Messenger. However, if you want to deactivate your Facebook account but keep using Messenger, there are ways around this issue.

Messenger only requires your Facebook details for purposes of logging in. If you deactivate your account on Facebook, you can still log into Messenger with the same details.

Make sure you do not permanently delete your Facebook account as this will make you lose access to Messenger as well.

What Does It Mean to Mute Someone?

If you want to stop receiving notifications from an individual or a group without sending them to spam, you can do this by muting their conversations.

You can do this by going to the chat, clicking on the information icon and tapping the mute icon (in the shape of a bell). You can also unmute them in the same way.

You can also do this without entering the chat window. Simply tap and hold the chat and select ‘Mute notifications’.


How Do I Share Media from One App to Another?

If you want to share videos and images that you received from someone on the Messenger app to another app like WhatsApp (or vice versa), you will first need to download these to your device and then reupload them to the chat on the other app.

To download a file, press and hold the image and select ‘Save Image’. On another app, click on the attachments section of your chat and send the downloaded image.

How to Hide the Messenger App From My Phone?

Are you tired of the Messenger app and want to take a short break from it without deleting it? Or do you want to temporarily hide the app from someone?

If you use a Samsung phone, you can follow this pathway: Settings > Display > Home Screen > Hide Apps. You can then choose the app that you want to hide. You can undo this later if you want to.

If, however, you use other Android or iOS phones, there is no way that you can hide the app directly from your settings. You will have to either download an external app or try to root or jailbreak your device.

If this is something that you do not feel confident doing, it would be easier for you to uninstall the app and then reinstall it at a later point.

Can I Send Anonymous Messages?

There is no such feature that allows you to directly send anonymous messages to someone on Messenger.

Guess what? I have a detailed guide – How to Send an Anonymous Message on Facebook. I knew you’d want to learn more!

If you find yourself in a situation that requires you to send someone messages without them knowing your real identity (for a harmless prank or a surprise) you will have to create another account on Facebook and use that to log into Messenger.

Note that this message will most likely end up in the recipient’s ‘Message Requests’ folder if you are not friends with them on Facebook.

They may also ignore, delete and block your message.

If you use this method to harm or threaten someone, you will get reported, blocked and banned from Messenger and Facebook as this will violate the terms and conditions of the app.

How Do I View or Add a Story?

Stories are temporary posts that you can upload on Messenger. These will disappear automatically after 24 hours and can be viewed by all your Facebook friends unless you specifically change your story settings.

To view a story on Messenger, go to the ‘People’ tab of the app and then to the ‘Stories’ section. You will be able to view all the stories that your friends have posted.

From this section, you can also add your own story by clicking on ‘Add to story’. Once you do this, you will be able to click a picture or select an image or video from your gallery.

You can also edit this image and add text to it. Once you are happy with the final result, click on ‘Your Story’ at the bottom right corner of the screen to upload it.

Can I Add New People to My Contact List?

Usually, your contact list from Facebook will transfer to Messenger when you start using the app. When you make new friends on Facebook, they will automatically appear on Messenger as well.

Apart from this, Messenger will also suggest new people that you can add to your contact list based on your mutual friends.

You can view these suggestions from the top right corner of the ‘People’ tab on the app.

You can also add people using their username or sharing yours with them. Further, if you want to find contacts from your phone’s address book, you can turn this feature on from your Messenger settings.

What Are Chat Heads?

Chat heads are small chat bubbles that you can view when you are not using the Messenger app. These allow you to chat with your friends even if you are using another app on your device. You can turn these on or off through your settings.

If you have turned them on, you will be able to view these bubbles whenever you get a notification from someone on Messenger.

You can reply to the sender simply by clicking on the bubble. You do not even need to go to the app!

You can also move this chat head around using your fingers so that they do not interfere with what you are doing. If you are done with the conversation you can drag them to the bottom of the screen to close them.

What Is an Avatar on FB Messenger?

In your settings on Messenger, you will find an option that says ‘Avatar’. This means that you can design your own character and use them as stickers in your chats with other people on the app.

To do this, click on the ‘Avatar’ setting and then ‘Make Your Avatar’. You will get a range of options such as skin tone, hairstyle, clothes and more.

Use these to personalize your avatar. When you’re done, you can save it and start using it.


How Often Should I Update the App?

This is something that is important to be aware of. However, it’s not something you need to worry about too much. Your app store settings will always remind you when it is time to update the app.

Usually, the app store automatically updates your apps whenever a new upgrade is available.

Make sure you check your settings so that you don’t miss out on any new updates and all the new features they bring with them!

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

While most things have been covered, there are a few more options in your settings that you should be aware of.

For instance, you will find your ‘Message Requests’ folder in your settings menu that you can view and edit.

There will also be other preferences that you can change according to what you want from the app. These might include settings related to your privacy, story, data usage, notifications, media and contacts.

Through your settings, you can also make changes to your account. If you face any technical issues, you can report these through the ‘Report technical problem’ option.

There is also a ‘Help’ option which will redirect you to a Facebook webpage consisting of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their answers.

If you face any kind of harassment from someone on Messenger, you can block them or report them as well.

Parting Thoughts

This detailed post covered most of the features and options that you should know before you start using Messenger. You can also go through this post at any time if you are confused about one or more of Messenger’s features.

We covered a lot of ground here. If you are overwhelmed by how many things you need to keep in mind, don’t worry!

It may look like a lot now but once you start using the app more frequently, everything should be more intuitive and smooth for you.

Soon enough you will know everything about the app like the back of your hand. This will not only include its features but also some more advanced tricks that will help you navigate the app better.

While it is true that Messenger may not be as universal as WhatsApp, it will be a useful app to keep around for some of your specific needs.

Messenger also has a lot more features that will make your user experience more enjoyable and interactive.

Ensure that you customize all your settings once you download the app. This will make it better and safer for you to use the app regularly. Now that this is all out of the way, go ahead and start chatting!

Author - Susan Kennedy

Hi there - I'm Susan Kennedy, a regular mom who has used spy apps for years now. I was fed up with spammy reviews and poor information so I started this website. I also teach you how to improve your online security and stop unwanted spy apps. Reliable information from a real person!

Susan Kennedy author