If you’re as connected as the rest of the world is these days, there’s a good chance that you have friends spread across a wide variety of mobile messaging apps. One of those that’s withstood the test of time and still boasts millions of daily users is WhatsApp, which is now much more accessible than ever before, now that you can access it from your Mac or Windows PC (with operating systems ranging from XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 10.) Many users still think that you need an emulator to get the WhatsApp experience up and running on your desktop or laptop computer, but thanks to changes made by the WhatsApp developers, that’s no longer the case!
Thanks to its resilience to the types of advertising, feature bloat, and unnecessary flash that so plagues many mobile messaging apps, WhatsApp has kept its niche fairly well over many years. It’s intimately integrated with your phone’s contact list, and more than most messaging services, it can stand as a true replacement to your mobile device’s built-in text messaging system. It’s just as streamlined as anything that comes packaged with Apple’s iOS device or Google’s Android operating system. The icing on the cake? Video calling is on the way, thanks to recently uncovered beta testing on the Android version of WhatsApp.
The fact that you can access it without a ton of extra hoops to jump through on your Windows PC or Mac only sweetens the deal, and thanks to the Whatsapp web portal, you aren’t going to need to worry about downloading, updating, or installing any third-party software. Though we’re big fans of certain Android emulators, here at Appamatix, we will absolutely be pleased when you can skip that step entirely, and get the messaging accessibility that you want without needing to install anything. Of course, there is a desktop application for WhatsApp, and we’ll give you the skinny on that as well, but in terms of accessibility, nothing currently tops the WhatsApp Web application.
Of course, you can’t have all of this without one caveat (which is a hurdle that you’ve probably overcome, if you’re reading this article.) If you want to run WhatsApp on your desktop or laptop, you’re going to need to have the app already installed on your mobile device. There are a few reasons for this, all of which are tied into the core of how WhatsApp functions:
- The WhatsApp experience is still smartphone-centric. WhatsApp Web is not a replacement.
- WhatsApp uses your phone’s contact list and other data in order to function. This isn’t available on a PC or Mac.
- Every WhatsApp account is still rooted to the phone number that you used in the setup process.
If any of these are heartbreakers for you, then there’s a good chance that you’re brand new to the WhatsApp experience. If that’s the case, rest assured; we have a quick ‘n dirty primer that will get you set up with WhatsApp in no time at all. However, if you’re already a WhatsApp user, then feel free to scroll down to the section titled “WhatsApp for PC.”
Getting Started with WhatsApp
Since Android and iOS essentially dominate the marketplace, we’ll primarily be talking about how to get WhatsApp set up on devices running these operating systems. Rest assured that Windows Phone and Blackberry users aren’t left out in the cold! WhatsApp works perfectly well on these devices, and it’s available through their respective app stores.
Download and Install
First, you’re going to need to swing through the app store that your device uses–either the Google Play store or Apple’s App Store. Leave it to Apple to aptly name their every app. (I’m sorry, readers, I promise to stop with the puns in a few years.)
Though you should be able to download and install WhatsApp easily, the official website also has download links to all of the places where you can download the app, no matter which device you’re using. Either way, make sure to get that app on the home screen of your mobile device before moving on.
The setup process for WhatsApp is just as straightforward as the app itself, but there are a few things you should know, going in.
- WhatsApp is tied to your phone number. There’s no way around that; it’s how the app works, and it works well.
- You’ll need to enable contact permissions before WhatsApp can find your friends.
- Any contacts not using WhatsApp will have to be added manually.
Since WhatsApp isn’t ad-supported in any way, you won’t have to worry about any of the contact or personal information in your phone being stolen. All of that stays right where it is, and right where you like it. Though there are other features that you can fiddle with and other nuances of the app to explore, let’s move on to how this translates to your PC experience!
WhatsApp for PC
There are two ways to go about getting WhatsApp up and running on your desktop or laptop, and both will work on a Windows PC or Mac with little extra effort on your part. We’ll detail everything below, but let me preface it by saying that WhatsApp Web is the simplest method of bringing the app to a larger screen.
I don’t know if the WhatsApp developers could have made an easier experience than they did with WhatsApp web. As long as you have the app installed and an account set up on your mobile device, you can follow one quick link to see if you agree with me.
First, head to the WhatsApp Web portal. Don’t worry, if the interface doesn’t look at all familiar yet. It will, shortly. You’ll know that you’re on the right track if you see a QR code smack dab in the middle of your screen.
If you do, then open WhatsApp on your mobile device, for the final step of the setup process. Things will change slightly depending on what mobile operating system you usually run WhatsApp from, but apart from the way that a few menu settings are phrased, the process is largely the same.
From the main menu of WhatsApp, tap “Settings” (“Menu” on Android OS.) From that menu, tap “WhatsApp Web.” This will activate the viewfinder of your device’s camera (which may require permission before you can proceed.) After that, simply line up the QR code from the WhatsApp web portal, and your phone will automatically pair with the WhatsApp site!
Congratulations! You’re now connected, and you’ll have the full functionality of WhatsApp on your computer’s screen. You can send images, videos, and even record voice messages using your computer’s microphone.
WhatsApp for Windows
Of course, you might be looking for something slightly more software-oriented for your WhatsApp experience, and as long as you’re running Windows 8 or later, you can install the WhatsApp client onto your computer. Sorry, Windows XP, Vista, and 7 users–the WhatsApp desktop client requires that you upgrade your operating system before you’ll be able to use it. Mac users can also install a version of the desktop requirement, but it requires Mac OS X 10.9 or higher. If you’re running anything outdated beyond that, it might be time to start thinking about an operating system upgrade anyway, right?
From the WhatsApp download site, click on the version of WhatsApp that you’d like to install. The Windows version is a .exe file, while the Mac version comes in a .zip file, that you’ll have to unpack. No matter which you need, the download and installation process is simple.
Once you have the client installed on your desktop or laptop, boot it up! You’ll be given a QR code to scan, just as you would have in the WhatsApp Web portal. Even though it’s an actual software installation and not a web portal, it still falls under the umbrella of “WhatsApp Web,” and therefore can be activated the same way that you did above–by scanning the QR code with your mobile device.
One quick note, however: as soon as your phone moves out-of-range from the network connection that your computer is currently on, WhatsApp web will be unpaired from your mobile device. Not to worry, however; you can connect again by scanning the same QR code!
This easy connectivity, especially from an app that’s primarily made for smartphones, gives WhatsApp an edge over most of its competition. Tack on the video calling that’s currently in the works for the app, and you’ll have a well-rounded messaging experience that brings all of the primary features that modern smartphone users expect. The best part? All of it’s still free, as WhatsApp still maintains its staunch position against the sorts of third-party advertising that annoys and intrudes upon users’ time spent in the app. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 users are left with only a few options as to how they embrace this web-based accessibility but those able to download the PC app, those using versions 8 and 10, won’t have any trouble. No matter which platform you’re on (or even if you’re on Mac!), WhatsApp offers unparalleled messaging awesomeness for free!