WhatsApp Secrets

Hand holding Phone open to whatsapp app near a laptop

WhatsApp is  a great messaging app. It’s not the only one, of course, and many do just what WhatsApp can. The problem is that they don’t do it nearly so well.

But, apart from messages, photos and videos, how much do you really know about WhatsApp? Take a look at our list of the apps best kept secrets in WhatsApp, and be amazed.

Send Your Location

Lots of apps have the facility to transmit a location to someone, but they tend to be a little bit involved in how to actually achieve it. In WhatsApp, it’s as simple as sending a photo.

Just start a chat with a person or a group, and tap the Paperclip icon as though you were going to attach a picture. Among the things you can attach are photos, audio and documents. Also in there is Location. Tap the icon, and you have a list of locations you can add to the message.

Sending location via whatsapp

You can send any one of several nearby locations, or you can send your present location as determined by your phone’s GPS system. Simply tap “Send Your Current Location”, and send it as you would any message. The other person will receive your location as a map. If they click on it, the map loads in the Google Maps app.

Right at the top of the list, you will see a different option of “Share Live Location”. This is different to “Send Your Current Location” in one key aspect.  Sending your current location does just that. If you then move, you would need to re-send your location to update the other person. With “Share Live Location” you can set a length of time, from 15 minutes to 8 hours, during which your location on the map will update in real time.

This is very useful for tracking kids or if you’re just waiting for someone to arrive and are curious where they are. The location must be sent by the device user, and the location cannot be obtained secretly. It’s an incredibly useful feature that a lot of people don’t realize exists in WhatsApp. Once you know it’s there, you’ll use it regularly.

Blue Tick Snitching

When someone sends you a message, they see two blue ticks when you’ve read it. None of us have emails set up to automatically send read receipts, so why would we want WhatsApp to work that way? Occasionally, you may just want to read messages and reply at a later time. The problem is that the blue ticks have already told the  sender you’ve read the message. At that point, they will begin to wonder why you haven’t replied.

Showing which checks you'll see if a message is sent, delivered or read in whatsapp

Fortunately, WhatsApp have given us an option to turn off the ticks. from your main message list, tap the 3 dot menu icon in the top right, and go to Settings > Account > Privacy. In there, you will see a checkbox to turn the ticks on or off. There’s no half measures here. If you turn them off, you won’t receive them from other people either. The ticks will always show in Group Chats, however.

Mute Notifications By Chat

Group Chats, in particular, can get busy and the constant notification chimes can be irritating or inconvenient. You can, though, Mute any chat, whether individual or group. With the chat itself open, tap the 3 dot menu icon and tap “mute”. You will then have an option to mute notifications for that chat only for 8 hours, 1 week or 1 year.

Doing this doesn’t silence any other chat. If you want to mute all notifications from WhatsApp, this is done is Settings > Notifications from the front screen of the app.

Showing how to mute a chat in whatsapp

Scribble On Photos

Adding a photo to a message is easy, but did you know you can also draw on the photo before you send it? This is useful if you want to circle something, or add an hilarious caption. Memes on the go? It’s right here.

Use the paperclip icon to attach your photo but, before you hit the white arrow to send it, take a look at the 4 icons at the top. You can Crop or rotate the image, add a graphic which you can position by dragging and dropping it on the picture, Add text in any color you like or simply draw freehand. You can even add the time and location, if you like.

The Long Tap

Tap and hold any individual message in a chat, and it turns blue. At that point, you have several options that appear at the top of the screen. You can quote the message when you reply, you can forward it, you can delete it or you can bookmark it. Most of these are more useful in a busy group chat, but all are handy at various times.

If you tap the Star icon to bookmark a message, these can be read later from the main screen. Tap the 3 dot menu icon, and tap “Starred Messages”. Any you have bookmarked will be listed there.

3 screenshots of how to star a message in whatsapp

Styling Text

Although basic, you can make text bold, italic or strikethrough.

For bold, put the text between asterisks (*), for italic put it between underscores(_), for strikethrough, put it between tildes (~). It’s not exactly a word processor, but the bold and italic will both prove useful at some point.

Search Messages

Admit it, you’ve barely even registered that there’s a search icon at the top of your main chat list.

Tap it and you can search all your messages for any text you like. If you loved a message in a group chat but don’t fancy scrolling though thousands of other messages to find it, just hit the search.

Screenshot showing how to search for a message in whatsapp

Delete a Message

If you send a message and realize that you have something wrong, or that it is full of typos, don’t despair. Just long tap the message and you will have the option to delete it. Either you can delete it only for yourself, or Delete For Everyone.

You’ll need to be quick, though, you can only delete a message within 7 minutes of sending it.

Add Flash To A Selfie

Most front cameras on smartphones don’t have flash. Some camera apps mimic the flash by shining a bright white screen before releasing the shutter. Now, this is built right into WhatsApp. If you want to send a selfie in a chat but the room is dark, just hit the camera icon, make sure you’re on the front camera and make sure the flash icon at the bottom left doesn’t have a line through it. If it does, just tap it and the flash will be ready.

Unfortunately, you can’t use this just to take and store a selfie. If you hit the shutter button but don’t send the image in a message, it isn’t saved anywhere. But hold your horses, because we have the answer.

Message Yourself

At first glance, there’s no easy way to send yourself a message on WhatsApp. Even if you add yourself as a new phone contact, you don’t appear in the list of contacts in the app. You can install other apps which will provide a workaround, but more apps taking up precious space and you just don’t need to. Instead, use this surefire, 30 second way to do it, all within WhatsApp itself.

Screenshot showing how to start a whatsapp group

Set up a new group, give it a name and add 1 person. Save the group, tap the 3 dot menu icon, and choose “Group Info”. Scroll down a little, and you will see that the group has 2 participants, you and the other person you added. Simply tap the other person’s profile pic, and remove them from the group. This leaves just you in a private group, to which you can send messages, photos or anything else. It’s as good as any notes app, given you can record video, audio, locations and tons more.

Rachel C.
Rachel C.
Rachel is the researcher and blog writer for the Mr Aberthon website. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and eventually made her way to Connecticut in order to become a part of the Mr Aberthon Team. She is passionate about technology and electronics, and nothing gives her more pleasure than discovering insights into the latest gadgets to hit the electronics market.