Facebook All-in-One For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Facebook has a feature that enables you to send private messages to your friends. Think of it like Facebook email, only your personal email address is not revealed. Even better, you can email people on Facebook whose email addresses you don’t know. Sending messages to non-Facebook friends is built into the system, allowing for private chatting (instead of posting on public walls).

It’s important to note that while you can follow the easy process outlined below to privately message friends on Facebook on desktop devices, messaging on your smartphone is a bit different and requires the Messenger app.

There are a few different ways to access the messages function on Facebook.

Using the Messenger page to send a message

One way to send a message to a friend is from the Messenger page. Here's how:
  • Click the Messenger link in the menu along the left side of your home page (you might have to click on "See More" to find it).
  • Facebook takes you to your Messenger page.
  • Along the left side of the Messenger page is a Chats column with a list of your Facebook friends. You can click on one of these names, or search for a person in the Search field at the top of the column (see the figure below).
    Messenger page on facebook
  • When you click on a name, it will appear to the right, at the top of the page. If you've already had correspondence with the person, you'll be able to scroll through those messages in the middle of the page. At the bottom is an empty text field (see the arrow in the figure above) for you to type in a new message. After you've typed in that field, a Send icon will appear to the right ― click that to send the message.
  • Another way to start a message on the Messenger page is to click on the New Message icon (it looks like a tiny notepad and pen) at the top of the Chats column. When you do this, a "To:" field appears to the right at the top of the page. Begin typing a person's name and Facebook begins to auto-fill names from your friend list as you type. When you find the correct friend, select the name by clicking it.
  • Again, use the text field at the bottom of the page to type your message.
  • When you’ve completed your message, simply click the Send icon to the right of the text field.
  • To the left of the text field is a plus-sign icon. Click on that and several icons appear above the text field, offering you the ability to attach files, photos, videos, and links to your message, as well as a variety of other options, depending on whether you subscribe to any Facebook applications.

Sending a message from any Facebook page

You don't have to go to the Messenger page to correspond with people. There are two icons you can click to access the message function from any Facebook page:
  • One of these is the Messenger icon on the navigation bar in the top-right corner of the page (circled in red in the figure below); it looks like a tiny speech bubble with a squiggly line in the middle. When you click the Messenger icon, a small window pops up that includes a list of your friends and a Search field at the top. Search for a friend, or click on a name in the list ― another small window will open up, where you can see past correspondence with your friend and type a new message.
    New message icons on Facebook home page
  • The other icon found on every page is the New Message icon (tiny notepad and pen) in the bottom-right corner (circled in red in the figure above). Click on this and a small message window will pop up. Begin typing a person's name in the "To:" field and Facebook auto-fills names in a list below the field. Click on a name to select a person.

Send a message on a friend's Facebook Timeline

Alternatively, you can visit a friend’s Facebook Timeline page to send a private message.

Click the Message icon just under the cover photo, or click the Messenger icon on the navigation bar at the top of the page.

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