Today sees WhatsApp desktop app roll out, which will make chatting with friends and family through WhatsApp possible without having to constantly check your phone.

Truth be told, WhatsApp users have been able to access the instant messenger since last year using WhatsApp for Web. The problem with that service though, is that it requires users to be constantly logged into a webpage.

That’s not a massive problem, but we’d prefer not having to slyly scan a QR code to log into WhatsApp.

It’s also worth mentioning that the IT department might be suspicious after a you’ve logged on to web.whatsapp.com for the seventh time today.

So while the IT personnel are making some coffee, here’s how to download and set up WhatsApp on your PC or Mac.

System requirements

To be able to use WhatsApp for desktop you will obviously need to install WhatsApp on your Android, Microsoft or Apple smartphone.

Unfortunately for Windows 7 users, WhatsApp for Desktop requires you have Windows 8 or newer installed. For Mac users you will need to be using OS X 10.9 or higher to be able to install the app.

Edit 11/05: A few of our readers have pointed out that the app appears to be working fine on Windows 7. We are hesitant in suggesting you try it out because WhatsApp recommends using Windows 8 or higher.

Download the app

If you meet the above criteria you can then head to the WhatsApp download page and download the application. A few notes on this before you click download and start installing.

Take note that you agree to the terms and conditions associated with the app by downloading it.

The Windows app is a 61MB download (the Mac version is a bit smaller at 51MB) so take that into account before you download it.

Installing

Once the download has completed open the “WhatsAppSetup.exe” that you just downloaded.

The installation is quite quick (we installed the app on a physical hard drive rather than an SSD and it installed before we could blink) and once installed you will be greeted with a login screen similar to the web interface.

The familiar WhatsApp for Web interface should greet you once you've installed the app.
The familiar WhatsApp for Web interface should greet you once you’ve installed the app.

Scan and chat

To start chatting open WhatsApp on your smartphone and navigate to the menu (in the Chats tab you should see three dots arranged vertically) and select WhatsApp for web. You should notice WhatsApp open your camera and direct you to scan a QR code at the WhatsApp for Web site, don’t do this.

Instead, open your newly installed desktop app and scan the QR code using your smartphone.

Your phone will then redirect you back to the app and your profile should load onto your desktop at the same time.

Once installed you're ready to enjoy WhatsApp on your desktop.
Once installed you’re ready to enjoy WhatsApp on your desktop.

Remember, you will need to have your phone on and connected to the internet for this to work, this is not a standalone app.

Customise WhatsApp

Once in the app you can start new conversations and new group discussions. You can also drag and drop documents and images from your PC into the conversation and they will sync with your phone.

Unfortunately you can’t browse through your phone’s camera roll from the app but you couldn’t do that on the web app either, its just a feature we think would have been cool.

You can also switch certain features on and off including sounds, and desktop alerts.

By default all of these, including showing previews of your message in the desktop alert, are switched on, so we recommend heading to the menu next to your profile picture to customise these options.

By default sounds, desktop notifications and message previews are enabled. Make you sure to customise these to your preference.
By default sounds, desktop notifications and message previews are enabled. Make you sure to customise these to your preference.

Keyboard shortcuts make a debut here with Ctrl + Shift + M ceremoniously muting a contact, Ctrl + N opening a new chat and Ctrl + P sending you to your profile page where you can change your avatar and status.

Much like the web application you can’t make calls (though not even the smartphone application works well enough for people to be using it to make calls anyway) but hopefully that’s a feature we’ll see in the future.

Now, we really need to get off of WhatsApp, the boss is doing the rounds again.