WhatsApp is the messaging app of choice for many smartphone users. A staggering 100 billion messages are sent on the platform every day, but when your battery is dead or you don't have your phone to hand, you can suddenly find yourself isolated with no access to your messages.

By logging into WhatsApp on a computer, however, you can ensure you are always contactable, especially while you're at work.

Thanks to the new multi-device feature (which is currently in beta) you can use WhatsApp app on up to four 'companion devices'. Unfortunately those can't be other phones, though we have a workaround if you really want to use WhatsApp on two phones. Instead, they must be computers (using WhatsApp Web or the desktop app) or a Facebook Portal.

Although it is possible to install WhatsApp on a tablet it's not something we'd recommend.

WhatsApp Web is a far more attractive solution for most users, ensuring you can not only read and respond to messages on any device but send and receive photos and videos too. The best part is it's completely free to use and requires only a quick setup, after which you stay logged in until you actively log out.

We'll take you through the short process below.

How to access WhatsApp Web via browser on a PC or laptop

  1. On your smartphone launch WhatsApp, tap the three dots icon (or the setting cog on iPhone) and choose Linked Devices
  2. Tap 'Link a Device'
  3. On the device on which you want to access WhatsApp, head to web.whatsapp.com in your web browser of choice. It'll even work with Safari on the iPad if you want to access it from your tablet. 
  4. You should now see a QR code on your tablet or PC display; point your phone camera at this to link the two.

WhatsApp Web QR code

WhatsApp Web will automatically launch in the browser, and will remain active until you log out either on your computer or on your phone.

You can achieve this on your phone by returning to the Linked devices screen in Settings and tapping on the device, then Log Out. Alternatively, you can do this in the browser window by clicking the three dots icon at the top of the conversation list, then clicking 'Log out'.   

How to install the WhatsApp desktop app

Rather than logging in through the browser, WhatsApp also offers a desktop client for PC or Mac, bringing extra functionality including full notification support for keen desktop chatters. If you'll be using WhatsApp Web on a daily basis, it's the easier option, and it can be downloaded from whatsapp.com/download right now.

Click the green Download button to download the installer file to your computer. Once downloaded, locate the file (usually in your Downloads folder) and double-click it to install.

On a Windows PC you should follow the steps in the installer, and on a Mac, simply drag the WhatsApp icon into your Applications folder to complete the install.

WhatsApp Desktop App

Launch the WhatsApp desktop app and you'll be greeted by the near-identical WhatsApp Web interface. As with the browser version, you'll be prompted to scan a QR code, so take your phone, open the settings menu and choose Linked Devices. Then point the phone's camera at the QR code displayed onscreen.

As with the browser app, the desktop app will keep you logged into WhatsApp until you choose to log out. You can now chat with your WhatsApp buddies while you're on your PC or laptop, complete with the ability to send and receive media and more, and of course type messages much faster on a PC or laptop keyboard.

That's about it! Just remember that if you want to link more than one device, you need to join the multi-device beta.