WhatsApp is a popular phone app that sends messages over the internet instead of through SMS. It’s available for both Android and iPhone, and you can also download WhatsApp’s desktop app or access WhatsApp from your browser.
WhatsApp is designed for phones, so the web and desktop apps are intended to work with your mobile app, not replace it. You can send messages through WhatsApp in your browser or on your desktop, but you can only make calls on mobile. To use WhatsApp in browser or on your desktop, you will need to have WhatsApp installed on your phone and already have an account set up. You’ll then have to connect the web and desktop apps to WhatsApp on your phone. Your phone needs a working internet connection in order to use the web and desktop apps and sync your messages across devices. The final thing to be aware of is you can only be signed into one browser or desktop app at a time.
To access WhatsApp from your browser:
- Go to web.whatsapp.com
- To stay signed in, make sure the box in the lower-right-hand corner next to “Keep me signed in” is checked
- Open the WhatsApp app on your phone
- Tap “Settings” in the bottom-right-hand corner of your screen in the mobile app if you’re on an iPhone. If you’re using Android, click on the three dots in the top-right corner.
- Then tap “WhatsApp Web” or “WhatsApp Web/Desktop” on your phone’s app
- Scroll down and click “Scan QR Code”
- Use your phone to scan the QR code on the webpage. Try to center the code on the screen.
- The code will time out after a little while, but you can click the green button with an arrow in it on the right-hand side to load the code again.
To set up the desktop app:
- Go to WhatsApp’s download page and download the app by clicking on the button for your device. The download links for the desktop app will be on the right-hand side.
- Open the download. This will take a little while to install.
- If you’re on a Mac, a window will pop up. Drag the WhatsApp icon in that window into the icon for the Applications folder in the same window.
- Double-click on the Applications folder in that window
- A second window will pop up with different applications in it. Click on the icon for WhatsApp in the application window.
- A window will pop up asking you to confirm that you want to open the app. Click “Open.”
- If you’re on a Windows device, opening the download will automatically open the app, skipping the Mac installation steps.
- Once the app opens, you’ll be instructed to follow the same steps used to connect to WhatsApp for web browsers. Start by opening up WhatsApp on your phone. As with the browser version, the box next to “Keep me signed in” is automatically selected, but you can choose to un-check it.
- Click “Settings” in the bottom-right corner of your phone screen if you’re using an iPhone, or click the three dots in the top-right corner if you’re on Android.
- Tap “WhatsApp Web” or “WhatsApp Web/Desktop” on your phone.
- Then click “Scan QR Code”
- Scan the code in the desktop app using your phone to connect the two apps
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.