If you’ve been in Chengdu for two minutes, you’ll have heard about, or already be using, WeChat. The social media application provides just about every function you can think of. However, if you are new to China, it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing trying to work out all the inner workings and different features of the app.
Chengdu Expat have compiled this list of the key and lesser known features of WeChat to help you understand it, as it will quickly become the most important app on your phone.
Turn off Notifications
What you will also quickly discover in WeChat is that you will be included in lots of big groups that, while often very useful, can be very active and leave you with hundreds of notifications if you leave your phone for 10 minutes! So, it is sometimes useful to turn off notifications for certain groups or chats.
- Open the chat and select the chat information icon (located at the top right of the screen)
- Alternatively, you can select ‘Night Mode’ which will turn off all notifications between the hours of 22:00 and 08:00 so you can get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Open WeChat settings (found under the ‘Me’ tab). Select ‘Notifications’ and then ‘Other Feature Alerts’, and finally select ‘Night Mode’.
The search function can be very useful in lots of different ways! You can use it to search for Official Accounts, articles, moments, chat history, WeChat IDs and more.
- Under the ‘Chats’ tab, scroll up and the search bar should appear
- If you want to find something from a specific chat that you can’t find using the general search then you can also enter chat and press the group information icon (located at the top right of the screen) and then select ‘Search History’.
Sometimes you will get messages in Chinese and, unless you can read Chinese characters fluently, this can be a problem. So WeChat have added this feature that will translate messages for you.
- Press and hold on the message you want to translate and then select the right arrow and than press ‘Translate’ and it will automatically translate the message.
Text Only Moment
WeChat have made uploading pictures to your moments simple, however it is less clear and not as well known that you can post text only updates.
- Select ‘Moments’ under the ‘Discover’ tab, then press and hold the camera icon until a text box appears. Then you simply post your message.
Select Who Can and Can Not See Your Moments
There will be some Moment posts that you might not want all of your WeChat contacts to see, so this is an important feature to know about.
- While sharing your WeChat Moment, once you reach the final page select ‘Share to’, and then ‘Share to’, again and then select the friends you would like to see the post.
- To stop certain people from seeing certain posts, follow the same steps as above but select ‘Don’t Share’.
More Complicated Features
Use Web WeChat
You can download a desktop version of WeChat for your computer. However, if for any reason you are not able to do this, then this function will allow you to temporarily use WeChat on your computer without having to download anything.
- Open your internet browser and go to web.wechat.com and scan the QR code shown on your phone and confirm it on your phone. Chat history won’t be shown but you can access all your contacts and send and receive messages.
- One advantage of this feature is that you are able to transfer files of less than 10MB from your computer. Open a chat on Web WeChat and select the upload icon (the one to the right of the Scissors) and select your file.
Disable ‘Find Me By Phone Number’
By default, anyone who has your WeChat also has your phone number, but you can disable this feature.
- Go to ‘Settings’ (found in the ‘Me’ tab) then select the ‘Privacy’ option and deselect ‘Find Me by Phone No.’.
You may have noticed this feature. Occasionally confetti images fall from the top of the chat screen. It’s one of WeChat’s easiest but most fun features.
- When you type certain words (in any language) into your chat it will trigger different types of confetti images (Birthday, Miss you, xoxo and other seasonal ones like Happy Christmas, etc)
Search for New Friends
Make new friends at the shake of a phone.
- Go to the ‘Discover’ tab and select ‘Shake’ and you will be matched with a stranger from anywhere in the world.
- If you can’t see this feature you will probably need to enable it. Go to the ‘Me’ tab and then select Settings > General > Features and then enable ‘Shake’.
- Under the ‘Discover’ tab, select ‘People Nearby’ to scroll through the list of people around you using WeChat and select one to start a conversation with.
This allows you to send and pick up random messages in bottles from the WeChat ocean.
- For this feature you will need to enable it first. Go to the ‘Me’ tab and then select Settings > General > Features and then enable ‘Message in a Bottle’.
- Once you have done this, go to the ‘Discover’ tab and select ‘Message in a Bottle’ and choose to either ‘Throw’ (where you can record or write a message to throw) or ‘Pick Up’ (where you can pick up other people’s bottles)
This feature will monitor how many steps you take, and send you notifications of how close you are to reaching your goals, and then enters you into a competition with your WeChat friends.
- Go to the ‘Me’ tab and select Settings > General > Features and then enable ‘WeRun’. Make sure you have also enabled ‘Record Fitness Data’.
- To view the leaderboard go the ‘Chat’ tab and select ‘WeRun’. Where the message box usually is you will see ‘Step Ranking’. As an extra incentive to get walking, if you are top of the leaderboard you can then set the cover photo!
Want to find the name for that TV show you’re watching?
- Under the Shake feature mentioned earlier you can also select ‘TV show’ and, when you shake, WeChat will act like Shazam and tell you the name of the TV show you’re watching.
Features Available on the Chinese WeChat
It’s a fun way to send money to friends and family or to help keep a WeChat group active!
Lucky money lets you send money into groups who have to fight to get random amounts. For this feature, you also need to have a credit card linked to your WeChat account.
The Chinese scan feature is far more advanced than the English version.
- Scan book covers – simply scan the cover of a book and you will get a list of online sites you can buy the book from such as Amazon.
- Street View – select ‘Street View’ option and wait until it finds your current location. There is an extra feature within this that allows you to find your nearest hotel and cinema!
- Translation – translates English to Chinese on things like signs or packaging!
On the English WeChat, you can Shazam TV shows to find out what they are called. On the Chinese WeChat you can do the same for Music. Unsurprisingly it works best for Chinese songs.