How to use WhatsApp from your computer – CNET

Typing long messages or holding multiple WhatsApp conversations on your smartphone is possible, but there are times when typing away on a full keyboard and viewing messages on a full-size computer screen would be better.

WhatsApp offers two different solutions for using its service on a computer: WhatsApp Web or desktop apps for Windows and OS X.

Requirements

According to WhatsApp’s support page, you can use either WhatsApp product (Web or desktop app) if your phone is one of the following:

  • Android
  • iOS 8.1 and above
  • Windows Phone 8.0 and 8.1
  • Nokia S60, Nokia S40 EVO
  • BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10

When you’re using WhatsApp on a computer, your phone will still need to have a data or Wi-Fi connection. That’s because the platform essentially mirrors the app on your smartphone. So if for example, you’re traveling in another country and your phone doesn’t have a connection, you won’t be able to use WhatsApp on another device.

WhatsApp Web landing page.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to set up WhatsApp Web

The bulk of the setup is pairing your phone with WhatsApp Web.

  1. Using Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari or Edge, head to https://web.whatsapp.com/.
  2. You’ll see a QR code for you to scan with the WhatsApp phone app. Just below the code, you’ll see instructions to help you find that scanning option on the app. For example, in the iOS app, tap Settings, then WhatsApp Web.
  3. After you scan the code, you’ll be able to see your WhatsApp messages on your phone and in the browser. You won’t need a Wi-Fi connection for your phone, but WhatsApp recommends connecting over Wi-Fi to avoid using too much mobile data.

The WhatsApp Web layout mirrors the mobile experience, just on a larger scale. You can still send emojis, GIFs, photos and voice notes, view your contact list and receive notifications on the computer.

How to set up WhatsApp’s desktop app

Setting up the desktop app is similar to setting up WhatsApp Web, but with one exception — you need to download and install the application first.

  1. Download the Mac or Windows version of the app from whatsapp.com/download.
  2. Mac users will need to unzip the file, then move WhatsApp to the Applications folder.
  3. Windows users will need to run the EXE file and follow the prompts.
  4. When the app launches, you’ll see a QR code for you to scan with the WhatsApp phone app. Just below the code, you’ll see directions to help you find that scanning option on the app. For example, in the iOS app, tap Settings, then WhatsApp Web.
  5. After you scan the code, you’ll be able to see your WhatsApp messages on your phone and in the browser. You won’t need a Wi-Fi connection for your phone, but WhatsApp recommends connecting over Wi-Fi to avoid using too much mobile data.

The layout of WhatsApp’s desktop apps mirror the Web and mobile experience. You can still send emojis, photos and voice notes, view your contact list and receive notifications on the computer.

A note on security

Once the app is installed or you’re logged in to the Web interface, anyone with access to your computer can view your WhatsApp conversations as long as you’re logged in. If your computer is password-protected, that’s probably not a big deal. But if you use WhatsApp Web from a public computer, sign out when you’re finished. You can do that by clicking on the three-dot menu icon and selecting Log out.

If you forget to log out of WhatsApp Web on a computer that’s not yours, or you suspect someone has accessed your account, you can log out of all active sessions by visiting the same settings page you used to scan the QR Code. Again, on iOS you can tap Settings then WhatsApp Web.

Editors’ note:This post was originally published in January 2015 and has since been updated with new information.


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