By Carolyn Abram

Chances are if you send out a message in Facebook, pretty soon you’ll get a reply. 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 (like you’re receiving an IM) 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 open the conversation in a chat window at the bottom of your screen.

At the top of each chat window is a blue bar displaying the name of the person you’re chatting with and several icons.

  • Add Friends: This icon, which shows the outlines of two people and a plus sign, allows you to add someone to a conversation you are having with a friend. Click this to open up a text field where you can enter a friend’s name. Remember to click the Done button when you have finished adding names. This opens a new conversation among all of you, and will appear as a separate conversation in your Recent Messages.
  • Start Video/Voice Call: Assuming your computer is up to the task, you can click on the video camera icon or the phone icon to start a video or voice call, respectively, with your friend.
  • Options: Click the gear icon to view a full menu of options related to your conversation:
    • See Full Conversation: Selecting this option brings you back to the Inbox view of your entire conversation history.

    • Add Files: Just like when you’re sending a message from the Inbox, you can select this option to search your computer for files you want to share.
    • Add Friends to Chat: If you’re discussing something with a friend and think that you need the opinion of someone else, you can add her to the chat, which opens a new group chat window.
    • Turn Off Chat for <Friend>: Friends may be more likely to chat with you when they see that you’re online. If any friend in particular is popping up a little too often, you can turn off chat for that individual person. From that point on, she will no longer see you in the Chat menu.
    • Mute Conversation: Just like with the Inbox, you may find a chat thread growing annoying or irrelevant. You can mute the conversation to stop being notified whenever someone replies.
    • Delete Conversation: Deleting a conversation is permanent. It deletes the entire history of your messages with a friend. Keep in mind that deleting it only deletes it for you. Your friend will still be able to see the message history if she so chooses.
    • Block Messages: You can prevent someone from sending you messages by choosing to block messages from her. If people are harassing you on Facebook, you might also consider blocking them entirely or reporting them for harassment.
    • Report as Spam or Abuse: If you’re getting odd messages from a friend promoting something he wouldn’t normally promote, there’s a chance his account was phished, meaning someone who shouldn’t have gained access to it. Report the spam messages to protect yourself, your friend, and other users from having the same thing happen to them.
  • X: Clicking the X in the upper right corner of your chat window closes the chat. Remember, everything you’ve said remains saved in your message history, so never worry about closing a window.