How to Use WhatsApp on Your Laptop or Desktop Computer

Enjoy a larger display and the use of your keyboard while chatting on WhatsApp

Using WhatsApp on desktop
Chat comfortably on your desktop or laptop computer using WhatsApp. Shutterstock

Meet WhatsApp: Over one billion served.

Chances are you’ve heard of, or are already using, WhatsApp.

Founded in 2009 by two ex-Yahoo! employees, WhatsApp has experienced incredible success. The app initially generated revenue by charging for downloads — a one-time fee of $.99 from iPhone users and an annual $.99 charge for Android users — but it hit the big payday in 2014 when it was acquired by Facebook for $19B.

In February of 2016, WhatsApp announced that a billion people were using the messaging platform.

The app is truly multi-platform, available for a wide variety of phones including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Windows devices. But did you know that you can also use WhatsApp on your laptop or desktop computer?

WhatsApp can be used on your mobile phone, as well as your desktop or laptop computer.

WhatsApp has provided a web client for some time now — meaning that you can access the WhatsApp interface right in your browser window — but in May of 2016 they also launched a standalone desktop client available for Mac X 10.9 and up, and Windows 8 and higher. 

WhatsApp offers some fun features that make it worthwhile to experiment with. The desktop versions allow you to browse your hard drive for photos, videos or documents that you can send right in the chat interface (make sure the receiver is using the latest version of the desktop client to ensure the most recent features are enabled).

If your computer has a webcam, you’re able to access it directly in the interface to take a photo that you can send via chat. Another unique feature is voice-recorded messages. Start a recording by clicking on the microphone on the bottom right of the interface, and record a verbal message. Just hit “Enter” to send it.

Additionally, given WhatsApp’s huge user-base, its likely that you have friends who are already using the service, so you can start interacting and chatting right away!

While the web and desktop versions of the app are convenient to use while you’re at your computer, and enable you to comfortably chat using your keyboard, there are some limitations. Several features available on your mobile device are not available on your computer. For instance, on your computer you don’t have the option to invite people from your address book to join WhatsApp, and you can’t share a contact from your address book with other friends. You also can’t share your location or a map — two key features in the mobile version.

You must have WhatsApp installed on your phone in order to use the web and desktop clients. The application synchs directly with your mobile device, so be sure to be connected to a WiFi network in order to avoid racking up expensive data charges. And, you can only have either the web client or the desktop client open at any given time. 

Here’s how to start using WhatsApp web and desktop clients.  

Web client:

  1. Visit WhatsApp.com.
  2. Click on the “WhatsApp Web” link on the top menu. You’ll be presented with a page containing a QR Code.
  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone. Click on “Settings” (the gear icon) at the bottom right of the screen. Then tap on “WhatsApp Web.” Tap on “Scan QR Code.” Hold your phone with the camera facing your computer monitor and point it towards the QR Code. When the code is identified, the WhatsApp web client will open.
  2. Start chatting! The WhatsApp web client works best with the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. 

Desktop client:

  1. Visit WhatsApp.com and click on the “Download” link in the top menu.
  2. Select your system — either Mac or Windows — and click the link to start the download. Follow the prompts to install.
  3. Open the desktop client. You’ll be presented with a page containing a QR Code
  4. Open WhatsApp on your phone. Click on “Settings” (the gear icon) at the bottom right of the screen. Then tap on “WhatsApp Web.” Tap on “Scan QR Code.” Hold your phone with the camera facing your computer monitor and point it towards the QR Code. When the code is identified, the WhatsApp desktop client will open. 
  5. Start chatting!

So what’s the difference between the WhatsApp web client and the WhatsApp desktop client? They are very similar, however the desktop client offers two unique features. With the desktop version, you have the ability to use keyboard shortcuts during your chat (a good list of them can be found here), and notifications can be sent directly to your desktop. Otherwise the clients operate exactly the same.

Good luck and happy chatting!