How to Use Facebook Mail

Depending on your settings and whether you’re logged in to Facebook, when you receive a new message, you see either a new chat window open up or a little red flag on your Home page over the Messages icon in the big blue bar on top. Click the flag to open the Inbox preview; then click the message preview to be taken to a full conversation.

On Facebook, the series of messages between two people is a conversation or thread. This is because when you look at a message, it doesn’t stand alone; rather, it is added to the bottom of all the messages, chats, and texts you have ever sent each other through Facebook.

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The most important thing to notice is that the most recent message is on the bottom of the page. Unlike News Feed or Timeline, you scroll up to see older messages.

Unlike e-mail, which is sorted by what you’re talking about, Facebook only sorts by whom you’re talking to.

At the bottom of your conversation, below the most recent message, is the message composer. You’ll notice that the To field is missing because whom the message is to is already clear. The conversation is with Amy, so any messages sent are going to Amy.

The smaller options are the same, and there is one additional option at the bottom of the conversation. This is definitely a good one to know: Press Enter to Send.

The Press Enter to Send option allows you to send messages simply by pressing Enter. Some people love this; other people hate it. To turn it on, check the Press Enter to Send box. If you need a paragraph break in whatever you’re writing, press Shift+Enter. Deselect the box to turn it off. When it is turned off, a Reply button appears. Click that button to send your message.

At the top of your conversation page are three buttons: the New Message button, the Actions button, and a Search button.

The New Message button opens a blank conversation with a blank To field and an empty message box.

Clicking the Search icon opens a Search box you can use to search the entire conversation for something. After a few back and forths between you and your friend, when you need to remember something she said a while ago, this comes in handy.

In the upper-right corner of the message reply box is a light gray smiley face. Click it to open a menu of the emoticon options Facebook offers.

The Actions button features a drop-down list with the following options:

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  • Mark as Unread: Choose Mark as Unread to mark the conversation as having unread messages. After you choose this option, the main Messages Inbox appears, and the conversation is highlighted in blue.

  • Open in Chat: Opening a message thread in Chat allows you to send messages back and forth with your friend while you’re browsing Facebook. It opens a small chat window at the bottom of the screen. You can then chat with your friend even when you leave the Inbox.

  • Forward Messages: Choose Forward Messages to send some or all messages from this conversation to other people. This option allows you to select certain messages via check boxes so that you don’t accidentally send the whole conversation to another friend.

  • Delete Messages: Like forwarding a message, this option allows you to delete some (or all) of the messages from any given conversation. After a message is deleted, you can never get it back.

    Just because you’ve deleted a message doesn’t mean your friend has deleted it. So if you send some private information and then delete the message, your friend can still see that information unless he deletes it as well.

  • Delete Conversation: Deleting a conversation removes the entire history of messages from your Inbox. This is the digital equivalent of shredding a box of letters.

  • Mute Conversation: Muting is usually used in group conversations that, over time, are more annoying than useful to you. For example, if you’re in an ongoing conversation with some old friends to catch up, but then the conversation turns to a local meet-up that you won’t be able to make, you can choose to mute the conversation.

    Check in every once in a while, and if the conversation grows more relevant, you can unmute it by clicking the Actions button and choosing Unmute from the options.

  • Move to Other: The Other Inbox is for messages that aren’t as important as your messages from friends. If a conversation with someone doesn’t really deserve top billing among the messages you really care about, you can relocate it to the Other Inbox.

    When you’re looking at a conversation in the Other Inbox, this option will be Move to Inbox.

  • Archive: Choose Archive to send your conversation to the archives. Remember, this moves the conversation out of your main Messages Inbox until a new message is sent.

  • Report Spam or Abuse: Unfortunately, like any method of communication, Facebook is not immune to spam, harassment, or abuse. If you see a message that is clearly spam, even if it’s from a friend, you can report it to try and prevent the spam from spreading further. After you choose to report something, there are three options:

    • Mark this conversation as spam and move it to the Spam folder.

    • Report individual messages from a hacked friend as spam and delete them.

    • Report conversation participant(s) for harassing or threatening me.

  • Keyboard Shortcuts: This option provides a menu of keyboard shortcuts that do…nothing. It seems to be practical joke on the part of Facebook. Well played, Facebook. Well played.

  • Feedback: This option takes you to the Help Center, where you can submit specific feedback to Facebook for improvements to Messages.

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