Chat and Messages

Using Facebook messages and Facebook chat is increasingly common in today's world. Learn how to use these features here.

Introduction

Facebook chat and messages allow you to communicate privately with your friends on Facebook. Unlike the other things you share on Facebook, such as status updates or photos, chats and messages will not be shared with all of your friends or posted on your Timeline.

This lesson will mostly focus on the desktop version of Facebook. If you're using a mobile device, you'll need a separate app called Facebook Messenger to send chats and messages.

Facebook chat

You can communicate in real time with your friends using Facebook chat. Also known as instant messaging, this is a popular way to communicate online.

If you've never used an instant messaging client before, you may want to review the Chat and Instant Messaging lesson in our Beyond Email tutorial to learn more about the basics.

To use Facebook chat:

  1. Locate and select the chat box in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
    opening the chat box
  2. A list of friends who are currently available to chat will appear. Select an available friend.
    starting a new chat
  3. A chat window will appear. Type your message, then press Enter. Your conversation will appear in the chat window.
    chatting on Facebook
  4. When you're finished, click the X to close the chat window, or press Esc on your keyboard.
    closing a Chat window

To go offline:

Some people do not want to be available for chat while on Facebook. You can hide your online status by going offline.

  1. In the chat box, click the gear icon, then select Turn Off Chat.
    turning off chat
  2. Your status will change to offline. Click the chat box again to turn on chat.

Messages

Messages work just like chats, but they allow you to send private messages to friends who are offline—that is, friends who aren't currently signed in to Facebook. In this sense, messages are similar to a traditional email service.

To send a message:

  1. Locate and select the Messages icon at the top of the screen, then select New Message.
    starting a new message
  2. A message window will appear. Type the name of the person you want to message, and a list of suggested friends will appear as you type. You can click a suggestion to add a friend to the message.
    choosing a person to send the message to
  3. Type your message. When you're done, press Enter to send it.
    sending a private message

You can also send messages to your friends directly from their Timelines. Simply click the Message button on a friend's Timeline to start a new message.

screenshot of Facebook

The inbox

The inbox is where you'll read all of your private communication on Facebook, including your chat conversation history. Whenever you receive a new message or chat, it will appear in your inbox. From here, it's easy to read, manage, and delete your messages and chats.

To access your inbox, click the Messages icon, then select See All. The inbox will appear.

opening the Inbox

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about using the inbox.

edit hotspotsthe facebook messages inbox

The Messenger app

If you're using a mobile device, you won't be able to send or receive messages within the Facebook app. Instead, you'll need to download and install the Facebook Messenger app. Sending and receiving messages in this app works mostly the same way as it does on the desktop: You can use it for instant messaging and for sending messages to friends who are offline.

the messenger app for android