Facebook chat and messages allow you to communicate privately with your friends on Facebook. Unlike the other things you share on Facebook, such as status updates or photos, chats and messages will not be shared with all of your friends or posted on your Timeline.
This lesson will mostly focus on the desktop version of Facebook. If you're using a mobile device, you'll need a separate app called Facebook Messenger to send chats and messages.
You can communicate in real time with your friends using Facebook chat. Also known as instant messaging, this is a popular way to communicate online.
If you've never used an instant messaging client before, you may want to review the Chat and Instant Messaging lesson in our Beyond Email tutorial to learn more about the basics.
Some people do not want to be available for chat while on Facebook. You can hide your online status by going offline.
Messages work just like chats, but they allow you to send private messages to friends who are offline—that is, friends who aren't currently signed in to Facebook. In this sense, messages are similar to a traditional email service.
You can also send messages to your friends directly from their Timelines. Simply click the Message button on a friend's Timeline to start a new message.
The inbox is where you'll read all of your private communication on Facebook, including your chat conversation history. Whenever you receive a new message or chat, it will appear in your inbox. From here, it's easy to read, manage, and delete your messages and chats.
To access your inbox, click the Messages icon, then select See All. The inbox will appear.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about using the inbox.
You can use the actions button to perform some of the most common tasks in your inbox, including the option to delete, move, or filter your messages.
You can create a new message directly from your inbox by clicking the New Message button.
Facebook automatically filters your inbox so you'll see your most important messages—like those from your friends—first. When you receive a message from someone you don't know on Facebook, it will appear here.
From here, you can view your archived and filtered messages.
A record of all messages and chats between you and your friends, known as conversations, will appear here. Select any conversation to see the full message history.
Whenever you send a message to more than one person, Facebook will group every reply together into a group conversation. When you Reply All, every person in the group conversation will be able to read your response.
You can respond to any open conversation by typing your message, then clicking Reply.
You can use the search box to look for messages and conversations. You can search for a friend's name or specific text within a message.
If you're using a mobile device, you won't be able to send or receive messages within the Facebook app. Instead, you'll need to download and install the Facebook Messenger app. Sending and receiving messages in this app works mostly the same way as it does on the desktop: You can use it for instant messaging and for sending messages to friends who are offline.