I’m not a big fan of WhatsApp. While it does indeed work well as a messaging app, it also feeds into Facebook/Meta’s technological hegemony, isn’t open source, tracks who you message and what you do on your phone, and does some other creepy stuff that I’m not a fan of. But, WhatsApp is also currently the most popular messaging platform in the world, 1 and a majority of people I contact regularly are only reachable through there. As such, even though I’ve purged the vast majority of Attention Extraction services from my life, I still have kept WhatsApp around (though, I prefer and recommend Signal or Matrix/Element).
Now, there is an issue I’ve come across while using WhatsApp: WhatsApp (as of the time of this writing) only lets you start new conversations with your contacts from within the app. It doesn’t let you start a conversation with someone whose phone number you have, but who isn’t a contact, unlike many other messaging services/platforms let you do (SMS, Signal, etc.). I imagine this is for some specific purpose such as spam reduction. However, it can be slightly frustrating, as there are a decent number of times I’ve found where I want to message someone on WhatsApp, but where adding them as a contact is superfluous (someone that I might just message once, for example… a business, or a delivery guy, etc.).
For situations like that, here is a workaround I’ve found useful:
How to Message Someone on WhatsApp Without Saving Them as a Contact:
Assuming you have the phone number of the person/business you want to contact on WhatsApp, all you need to do is open your web browser on your phone (probably Safari if you’re on an iPhone, and probably Chrome or your vendor specific “Internet” app if you’re using Android (though, I recommend installing Brave for Android or iOS, as it’s more privacy respecting than those other defaults).
Then, from your browser, you’ll type in this web address:
Here, simply replace
13065551234 with the phone number for whomever you’re trying to contact. You’ll also need to include the country code of the phone number you’re trying to contact. So, sending a message to someone in Türkiye, with country code
90 might look like
https://wa.me/905675551234. (Also, here the
https:// is added in, but if you’re typing the address into most web browsers, you shouldn’t need to add that part.)
And that’s it! Go to that web address (with the right phone number in it), and you’ll see a button that says, “Continue to Chat”. If you press it, WhatsApp should open, and if your contact has a WhatsApp account, a chat with them will start.
In case you didn’t catch it, there’s a helpful mnemonic built into the URL to make it easier to remember this trick when you need it: just remember the
wa.me is for WhatsApp. So, it’s just
wa for WhatsApp, then
Quick and simple trick, but can be really helpful for keeping your contacts list just a bit cleaner, especially if you use WhatsApp as often as I do.
Update Jul 11, 2023: Signal actually has a feature like this too. It’s less useful for the “Message Without Saving as Contact” feature, as Signal actually does allow you to contact someone without having them saved as a contact. However, both the
wa.me feature highlighted above and the following Signal link can be really useful if you’re wanting to create a link that someone can use to contact you on either platform (say, in an email signature, or as a link on a web page, or otherwise).
The syntax to create a phone number link for Signal is: