How to Send and Receive WhatsApp Messages on Your Computer

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WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, is one of the most popular messaging apps available. It’s almost completely replaced SMS in parts of the world.

Unlike a lot of other messaging apps, you can only use WhatsApp on a single device: your smartphone. If you log in on another phone, you get logged out of the first one. For years, there wasn’t even a way to use WhatsApp on a computer. Thankfully, that’s changed.

To use WhatsApp on a computer, you have two options: the web app, or a desktop app (that is really just a self-contained version of the web app). The set up process is identical for both versions.

Either head to web.whatsapp.com or download and install the latest version of the WhatsApp client for Windows or macOS.

WhatsApp on the computer is an extension of the instance running on your smartphone rather than a separate app. Your phone needs to be on and connected to the internet for WhatsApp to work on your computer.

This means that, rather than a traditional login process, you need to pair your phone to the web or desktop app with a QR code. When you first open the app or web app, a QR code will pop up.

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Next, open WhatsApp on your smartphone. On iOS, go to Settings > WhatsApp Web/Desktop. On Android, click the menu button and choose WhatsApp Web.

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If WhatsApp doesn’t already have permission to access your phone’s camera, you’ll need to grant it. Then, scan the QR code on your computer’s screen.

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The WhatsApp client on your computer will then connect to your phone. You’ll now be able to send and receive WhatsApp messages on your computer.

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Once you’ve set it up, WhatsApp will automatically connect any time you have the desktop or web app open. If you want to log out, click on the menu dropdown icon and select Log Out.

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You can also log out of all your computers from the mobile app by going to the WhatsApp Web screen and tapping “Log out from all computers”.

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Although the computer solution isn’t perfect—a proper app would be nice—it’s functional and easier to use than a pure mobile app.

Harry Guinness writes occasionally when he’s not busy skiing, sailing, partying, lifting weights, or otherwise dodging responsibility. His main areas of interest are himself, gin, and crazy people with interesting stories to tell. When people won’t pay him to write ill-thought-out opinion pieces, he covers photography, technology, and culture. You can follow him on Twitter.