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If you own a smartphone, then you probably know of WhatsApp.

This messaging application is famous for its free services and simplicity of use; a statement that can be seconded by over 900 million people who actively use the app on a monthly basis.

Whether you want to send a text, voice, picture or video message; be it you want to make a free voice call; send someone your location or a link to a website; or even share another person’s contact, WhatsApp will be there for you. Regardless of the mobile operating system you are using, be it iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia or BlackBerry, you don’t have to worry about installing the app for it is compatible with all major mobile operating systems.

So, what about using the app to its full potential? Well, very few do this and if you are one of the many that don’t, here are some top 5 WhatsApp tricks that will make your life better as far as using this Facebook-owned app is concerned.

Creating home screen shortcuts

There is no doubt that you chat with at least one person on a daily basis. If it’s true, you may want to make your life easier by having this contact a click away thanks to the ability that WhatsApp offers. All you need is to find the contact in your WhatsApp chats and then long-press on it to reveal more options. Tap on “Add conversation shortcut” and immediately you will see the WhatsApp shortcut appear on your home screen.

Send private message to multiple contacts

WhatsApp allows users to communicate with multiple people in groups. However, this feature is kind of public as everyone in the group will get to see the message you may want to direct to a few members of the group.

There is a way out and that is broadcasting. On the top right of your open WhatsApp Chats window, tap on the three dots and then “New broadcast”. In the page that shows up, enter the names of the persons you want to send a private message and tap on “Create”. Compose your message and it will be forwarded to listed contacts.

Hide WhatsApp last seen, status update and profile photo

WhatsApp has a way to let you express your current status, just like the status update timeline offered in Facebook. Here, you can write anything you want and everyone can see it on WhatsApp. It is also possible for your friends to know the last time you checked into your account. When creating a WhatsApp account, there is an option of adding a profile photo so that your friends can easily recognize you.

If you feel like any of the above is a violation of your privacy, WhatsApp also offers a way out. Under the “Settings>Accounts>Privacy” option, you can change the settings to all of these privacy options. However, remember that if you hide your last seen on WhatsApp, you will also not be able to see the last seen of your friends.

Mute group conversations

If you are in a WhatsApp group, it can at times become a nuisance, especially with constant notifications flooding your inbox. In cases where you are participating in the chat, it won’t really bother you. But wait when you are busy doing something else and you need just a tiny bit of concentration.

It is possible to mute WhatsApp group chats and concentrate on your thing in a few simple steps. Just launch the group chat and tap on the menu. Go ahead and select “Mute” and from the popup menu, select the period you want the chats to remain in mute mode. There is also room for allowing chat notifications to display or not during the period which the group chat is muted.

Enable desktop notifications

WhatsApp is mainly a mobile phone-based messaging app. However, it can also be enabled on desktops so as to eliminate over reliance on smartphones for WhatsApp chatting purposes. Using WhatsApp Web, you can easily get desktop notifications of all your messages.

To enable WhatsApp desktop notifications, open Chrome browser and enter the URL A QR code will open up, which when you open the smartphone app and tap on the menu, you will launch a QR code scanner that can be used to scan this QR code on your desktop. Once the scanning is done, you will be logged into WhatsApp Web and you will start getting desktop notifications right away.