As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has a lot of your friends and they want to talk to you. That’s what Facebook Messenger is for! It’s available on the web as well as on Android and iOS. But there’s no official desktop app.
Now, there are some awesome Facebook Messenger tips and tricks that make the service better than ever. But you still can’t do a few things. For instance, you can’t use multiple Facebook accounts on the official Messenger app. And maybe you want better notifications on desktops, and even browser extensions.
Don’t worry, third party developers have your back. Here are the best Facebook Messenger apps you can get, apart from the official one.
Simple Messenger on Desktop, No Frills
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to access Facebook Messenger on a desktop computer is to use the official web app. But that means having a browser window open, and relying on that browser’s notifications. For a standalone app, get Messenger for Desktop, a free tool for all major desktop operating systems (OS).
First of all, Messenger for Desktop lets you do everything the web version will, like making calls to friends, sending chat stickers, and so on. In addition to that, there are a few more features:
- Themes: Apart from the default theme, you can get dark and mosaic themes.
- Notifications: It’s built for your OS and uses native notifications for alerts.
- Startup: Set up Messenger to launch on startup.
- Menu bar: Mac users can make the app run in the Menu bar.
Multiple Facebook Account Support & Other IM or Chat Apps Too
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Franz is a fantastic new cross-platform tool that is a universal, all-in-one chat app for several instant messaging services. If you ask me, this is the best way to run Facebook Messenger on Linux. The best part? You can run multiple Facebook Messenger accounts!
Download the program, connect Facebook, and put in your credentials. Once you are logged in, it’s just Facebook Messenger as usual. And like Messenger for Desktop, it supports native notifications.
To set up another Facebook Messenger account, click the Franz icon and choose Messenger under “Add New Service”. Remember to name it something else, so you can distinguish the two accounts. And yeah, you can add as many accounts as you want.
Separate Chat Windows for Contacts and Menu Bar Integration
Mac users have some great apps that aren’t on other platforms, and Current is a fantastic example of that. Current is more than just about the Messenger, it’s the best Facebook app for Macs. But there are two special features for Messenger.
First, Current works from the Mac Menu bar, so you can click the little icon at any time and get a tiny window to browse your Messages. Second, and this is the cool part, Current lets you separate each contact’s chat into a separate floating window! Opening these separate chat windows ensures you never miss messages and can carry on multiple conversations while doing other things.
Download: Current for Facebook for Mac ($2.99)
Always-On Chat in Your Sidebar
Platform: Mozilla Firefox (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Mozilla’s Firefox has amazing Facebook extensions, but if all you want is chat, there’s a special gem. You see, Firefox’s sidebar is customizable and extensions like All-In-One Sidebar enable you to get more out of it. So how about just keeping Facebook Messenger on all the time, no matter how you browse?
The Firefox Messenger add-on needs you to sign in with your FB account and then it works just like a mobile version of the Messenger app. You don’t miss out on any features, including voice calls, but you’ll need to grant Firefox permission for that. It’s super simple and a handy extension when you want to browse the web while continuing to chat without changing tabs all the time.
Download: Facebook Messenger for Firefox (Free)
Facebook Messenger Panel [No Longer Available]
Floating Panel for Messenger Anywhere
Platform: Google Chrome (Windows, Mac, Linux)
If you prefer Chrome to Firefox, you can’t get a sidebar, but you can get an always-on Messenger window. It’s through Chrome’s built-in Panels feature, which you will need to enable before using it. Basically, a tiny window pops up which can be used even outside of Chrome.
Again, just log into Facebook and you’ll be ready to start chatting. No matter which tab you browse to, the Facebook Messenger Panel stays on top, or minimized right where the status bar would be.
Download: Facebook Messenger Panel for Chrome (Free)
Use Multiple Accounts on iPhone or iPad
Facebook Messenger for iOS is pretty awesome, especially with features like Chat Heads. But it restricts you to a single Facebook account. If you handle multiple Facebook accounts and need to chat with people on both, get a free app called Friendly Social.
It’s actually a full Facebook app, not just for Messenger, but the Messenger part works perfectly. You can set up as many Facebook accounts as you want, and switching between them is a breeze. On the down side, two accounts can’t be used simultaneously, so you will need to log out of one and log into another every time.
So while you’ll get only one account’s notifications at a time, you can still set up IFTTT on iPhone to get notifications from your other accounts.
Download: Friendly Social for iOS (Free)
Privacy-Friendly and Permission-Friendly Chat
Facebook Messenger is notorious for seeking intrusive permissions. Especially on Android, the app asks for permission to so many different aspects of the phone, you won’t even be sure what it needs that access for or when you will use it. Lite Messenger is an app that focuses on giving you control instead of Facebook.
Lite Messenger requires no access to your personal data, supports notifications, looks pretty good, and adds in a few other features. For example, you can switch on a setting that stops your friends from knowing if you’ve seen their message. You’ll get access to other Facebook features too, so go ahead and browse your News Feed while you’re at it.
Download: Lite Messenger for Facebook for Android (Free)
Is Messenger Your Main Chat App?
While Facebook is huge, there are several other fast-growing social networks, many of which are instant messaging apps. For example, WhatsApp is huge, and Viber and Line keep adding more users every day.
With that context, is Facebook your main chat app today? Why or why not?