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11 secret Google Messages features, tips, and tricks


Key Takeaways

  • Enable RCS messaging for better texting experience with more features and no character limits.
  • Verify end-to-end encryption for secure chats in Google Messages on a chat-by-chat basis.
  • Make use of Suggestion features like Magic Compose and smart reply for easier texting.

Google Messages is the default SMS and messaging option on many Android phones. If it’s not on the phone by default, it’s easily downloadable from the Play Store. It not only presents you with a clean, unobtrusive UI for sending messages but includes a library of optional features that can make light work of your messaging needs.

A lot of folks have indeed gravitated toward apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or even Discord for some folks. However, SMS is still the default for a reason, and it’s one that everyone has access to with just a phone number. So, it’s still worth giving Google Messages a try and here are some neat tips and tricks to make your experience better.

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1 Enable RCS messaging

Send your texts over data instead of over SMS

Google Messages RCS Chat

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

From the main screen in Messages, tap your profile icon on the right side of your phone and select Messages settings. From there, tap RCS chats and tick the Turn on RCS chats option. There are also several additional options like read receipts, typing indicators, and other options. Anyone wanting to migrate to Google Messages should use RCS chat since it’s one of the app’s biggest features.

RCS chats, to put it simply, send your texts over data instead of over SMS. Thus, you no longer have the 160-character limit or the MMS size limitations. You can also react to messages like you can in iMessage and you get access to additional features you don’t see in SMS. Plus, with iMessage adopting RCS, it behooves you to get used to the feature.

2 Verify your end-to-end encryption

Check for this on a chat-by-chat basis as well

Google Messages End to End Encryption

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

One of the main benefits of RCS on Google Messages is end-to-end encryption. As long as you and your text recipient are both on Google Messages and RCS, your chats will be end-to-end encrypted. You can check for this on a chat-by-chat basis as well.

Open any chat you’re curious about and tap the 3-dot menu icon in the top right corner of your chat. Select Details. On that screen, you’ll see the end-to-end encryption section. If it says Status: On, congratulations, your chat is encrypted. If it says off, then it isn’t. There are also some other options like force sending messages with SMS/MMS instead of RCS if you prefer. However, this will disengage encryption.

3 Enable or disable chat bubbles

Quickly tap the bubble to open up the chat

Google Messages Chat Bubbles

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

Facebook Messenger introduced the chat bubbles function many years ago, and it eventually became a standard feature on Android. Messages supports chat bubbles, and you can enable it pretty quickly. From the main Messages screen, tap your profile picture and select Messages settings. In the next menu, tap Bubbles. From here, you can select to turn all of your chats into bubbles or only the ones you select.

When enabled, Chat bubbles will show up as, well, bubbles on the side of your screen. You can quickly tap the bubble to open up the chat and respond. This is a bit of a polarizing feature, as many folks don’t like having extra stuff on their screen. Thus, if you want to turn it off, follow the instructions above and simply turn it off.

4 Send photos in full resolution

Photos will take a bit longer to send

Google Photos Send Photos Faster

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

By default, Google Messages reduces the image quality of things you send so that they send faster. If you don’t mind a longer send time, you can send your images in full resolution. To do so, we’ll once again head to the main Messages page, tap your profile picture, and then select Messages settings. Once there, find the Send photos faster option and untick the selection.

Your photos will take a bit longer to send, but the recipient will get the full-size picture instead of one with reduced quality. If you find that your images are taking way too long to send, you can always head back into the settings and reverse the change to send faster images again.

5 Make use of the Suggestion features

Work smarter, not harder

Google Messages Suggestions

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

Google is working to make its apps smarter all the time. One such example is Suggestion features. To find these, head to the home page of Messages, tap your profile picture and select Messages settings. Scroll down until you find the Suggestions option and select it. From here you have four options that we’ll run through quickly.

  1. Smart Reply
    – Suggests quick replies when someone texts you. It’s useful if you want to acknowledge something someone said but you don’t have the time to type out a full message at that moment.
  2. Suggested actions
    – This option integrates Google Messages with other Google apps, such as Google Maps, Google Meet, and Google Calendar. So, for example, if someone wants to make plans with you next week, Messages may suggest creating a calendar event to remind you about it.
  3. Magic Compose
    – Magic Compose is an AI-drive feature that checks your message draft and supplies alternate ideas for what you typed. It’s in beta, but it does help if you’re stuck on what to say.
  4. Suggested stickers
    – A more fun and less practical feature that will suggest emotive stickers based on what you say. So, when I text my wife “I love you”, it’ll show me an animated sticker of a bear blowing kisses. It’s a nice way to add some personality to your messages.

Each of the above options is individually available. Thus, if you want one or two of them, but not the whole batch, you can enable and disable them as necessary to customize your experience.

6 Assign your swipe actions

Archive, delete, and mark a message

Google Messages Swipe Actions

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

Swipe actions work quite well in Google Messages when you get them set up. By default, swiping a message on the main page left or right sends it to the archives. However, you may not want that, or you may want different swipe commands. Changing it is pretty easy.

As per the norm, head to the main page in Messages and tap your profile picture. Select Messages settings and scroll down until you find Swipe actions. Once selected, you’re presented with the ability to customize your left and right swipes. The options include archive, delete, and mark a message as read or unread. You can also turn the swipe functions off if you don’t want them.

I swipe right to delete and swipe left to mark as read. It’s helpful for quickly dealing with texts that I don’t intend to keep long-term, such as two-factor authentication texts or text updates about shipped packages after I receive my delivery. Once done with them, I swipe them away so they don’t clog up my inbox.

7 Use Google Messages in a web browser

Text from your PC for free

Google Messages text on the web

Google / Pocket-lint

Google Messages is one of only a couple of ways to text from your PC for free. To do this, use the following steps.

  1. Navigate to
    messages.google.com
    on your PC.
  2. There are two methods to connect your phone. For this one, we’ll use the QR code since it doesn’t require a Google account. Tap the
    Pair with QR code
    option.
  3. The website will generate a QR code.
  4. On your phone,
    scan the QR code
    using your camera app or a QR code scanner of some sort.
  5. Once authenticated, the webpage will reload with all of your texts.
  6. Note
    – If you want to use your Google account to authenticate, it’ll show you an emoji on the website. Tap the corresponding emoji in Google Messages to connect.

Once done, you can safely and quickly text from your web browser free of charge. The nice thing is that you only have to do the setup process once per device. Once it’s set up, you can navigate to messages.google.com on the same web browser to immediately load your messages again.

8 Schedule a text to send later in Google Messages

You have four options

Google Messages Schedule Send

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

The ability to schedule texts is built into Messages by default, you just need to know how to access it. Fortunately, you already know where it is. Open any chat and type out the message you want to send later. From there, long press the send button. A window will appear that will let you schedule the text.

You have four options. The first three are predetermined times and the final option lets you pick your date and time. Once done, simply send the message. Google Messages will show that you have a scheduled text at the bottom of your text history to remind you that it’s there.

To unschedule the text, tap where it says Scheduled messages to show the upcoming text. Tap the send icon to the right of the text to update the message, send it immediately, or delete the message.

9 Save important messages in Google Messages

Save, pin, or otherwise mark a message as important

Google Messages Starred Messages

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

It is possible to save, pin, or otherwise mark a message as important in Google Messages. To do so, find the message you want to save. Tap and hold the message to select it and then tap the star icon at the top of the screen to “star” the message. The message will show up with a star icon in the bottom right corner in your text to denote that you did it successfully.

To view your starred messages, open your chat with that person and tap the 3-dot menu icon. Select the Starred option to view the list of messages. This works very similarly to pinned messages in Discord, so you can use it to save information you may need later.

To remove a star from a message, go to your starred messages and tap on the message you want to un-star. When it’s pulled up in your message feed, long-press the message and tap the star icon along the top again to un-star the message.

10 Pin important conversations in Google Messages

Will remain at the top of the list

Google Messages Pin Conversation

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

Much like individual messages, you can also pin important conversations to the top of your message list. Pinned conversations will remain at the top of the list, even if you get text messages from other people. You can pin multiple conversations as well to keep your most important contacts at the top.

The process is quite easy. Simply long-press any conversation you want to pin. Once selected, tap the pin icon at the top of the screen to pin it. Pinned conversations have a pin icon in the right margin to let you know which ones are pinned. To unpin a conversation, repeat the process again verbatim and it’ll unpin the conversation.

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Why Apple finally decided to bring RCS messaging to the iPhone

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11 Other Google Messages tips and tricks

Smaller features

Google Messages Auto Delete OTP

Joe Hindy / Pocket-lint

Google Messages has a variety of other, smaller features that can make your life a little easier when enabling them. We’ll rapid-fire through a few of these smaller features below.

  1. Auto-delete authentication codes
    – Tap your profile picture, then Messages settings. Scroll down to
    Message organization
    and select it. Tip the box on. Now, any time a site sends you a text for two-factor authentication, Google Messages will auto-delete them after 24 hours.
  2. Voice or video call someone from within the chat
    – When you go into any chat, there is a phone icon and a video camera icon in the top right corner. Tapping the former will initiate a phone call on your dialer and tapping the latter will initiate a video call via Google Meet. Note that both parties have to have Google Meet for video calls to work.
  3. Assign per-conversation notification tones
    – Open the chat you want to customize and tap the 3-dot menu button. Select
    Details
    , then
    Notifications
    . On the next screen, you can select a custom notification sound for just that contact. Repeat for any contact you want custom tones for.
  4. React to SMS and RCS texts
    – Long-press any message you receive in Google Messages and you can react to a message with an emoji. Note that SMS and iMessage users will receive a separate text letting them know you reacted to a specific message, but Google Messages (and apps that support this feature) users will see the reaction on the message itself.

With the above tips and tricks, you should be able to use Google Messages like an expert. Happy texting!



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