If you’ve ever played online games, you have probably noticed that communication plays a huge part. Jason Citron certainly noticed back in 2014 when he came up with the idea for Discord, and released the app a year later. We cover the basics of this social network in our What is Discord? and Discord statistics articles. However, as useful as the platform is for text and voice chat, not everyone knows how to use Discord.
- Discord is a complete text, voice and video communication platform, but it takes some getting used to.
- Adding friends and talking to them is at the core of Discord, but you can also join and create servers and become a part of multiple communities.
- Discord’s advanced tools can transform your experience, but we’d suggest getting a grasp of the basics first.
The gist of it sounds simple enough — you create a profile, join servers and add friends to communicate with. Once you start getting into the different types of communication, creating and managing servers and some of Discord’s more advanced settings, you quickly realize that things are a lot more complicated than they appear.
With all that in mind, you’ll quickly get the hang of Discord once you’ve used it for a few days. To make things even easier, we’ve put together a complete guide that covers how to add friends and talk to them, how to create your own Discord server and how to use some of the more advanced options.
Discord is a tool that allows you to communicate via text and voice with other users.
The best way to use Discord depends on what you want to use it for — you can use it for online gaming, hanging out, interacting in microcommunities, and more.
Yes. Even though it can feel slightly overwhelming at first, getting the hang of it is very easy and you’ll have no problems using Discord after only a few days.
How to use Discord: Downloading and Installing
Discord gives you two options. You can head to its website and use it as an in-browser app, or download it for your desktop or mobile device and use it as a stand-alone app.
If you want to use it as an in-browser app, open Discord’s website and click the “open Discord in your browser” button. After logging in, you’ll be able to browse servers and talk to other Discord users.
If you want to download it, click the “download” button at the top of the website. This will take you to a page with all the platforms Discord is available on, so you can download the stand-alone app for the platform you’re using.
After downloading it, use the install wizard to install the app on your device and log in with your credentials. If you encounter any hurdle, check out our complete guide on how to install Discord on your device.
How to Talk to Friends Through Discord
One of the core features of the Discord app is adding friends and engaging in one-on-one conversations. This is what a lot of users use their Discord account for — you don’t need a server; you just need your friends’ usernames and IDs.
Adding a friend is remarkably easy. First, you’ll need to know your friend’s username and four-digit ID.
Once you start the Discord app, it takes you straight to the home screen (or you can click the Discord icon above the server list). At the top, in the middle of that screen, there is a green “add friend” button. Clicking it will open a prompt to enter the friend’s username (note that this is case-sensitive) and their four-digit ID, and then you can send a friend request.
If you’re already in one or more Discord servers, you can add the server members as your friends without having to type in their names. Simply go to the messages pane or the list of users, click on their username, then click their profile picture. You’ll see the “send friend request” button to the right — click it, and Discord will send the user a friend request for their approval.
Direct Messages, Voice Chats and Video Calls
Direct messages allow you to communicate to other users through text chat, rather than voice or video. You can send a direct message to any user by just clicking their username and typing in your message in the input field. It’s a simple yet effective way to reach out to any Discord user you’ve met on public servers.
You can also start voice chats with people who are in your friends list, or you can start them by joining the voice channel in any Discord server you’re a member of. Voice chats are Discord’s bread and butter, offering excellent quality regardless of how many people join a voice channel. You can even customize the volume of each user. If you have administrator privileges on a server, you can also mute or deafen a user channel-wide.
Video calls are also an option, but Discord doesn’t prioritize them. The quality is good, but not excellent, even if you opt for Discord Nitro and the improved video chat resolution. A video chat is certainly something you can do via Discord in a pinch, though we’d suggest a dedicated video chat app instead.
How to Use Servers in Discord
The other core feature of Discord is its servers. You can explore public servers, join a private one using an invite link or even create your own server and set it up just the way you want it. Servers are like communities, where people who share a common interest come together to discuss and hang out.
Creating Your Own Server
You’ll probably want to create your own server at some point. Whether it’s a server where your friend group can virtually hang out, or a community server for an interest or hobby, getting started isn’t difficult.
On the left-hand side of the desktop app, in your list of servers, you’ll find a “+” icon at the bottom that says “add a server” when you mouse over it. Click it and you’ll be able to either start from scratch or use one of Discord’s predefined templates. The app will guide you through the server creation process, though you can skip some of the questions and come back to them later.
The predefined templates will create several text and voice channels. For example, using the Gaming template will create a “clips and highlights” text channel and a “gaming” voice channel, whereas the Study Group template will create “homework help” and “session planning” text channels and a “study room” voice channel.
Setting Up the Server
Once you’ve created your server, it’s time to set things up. You can click on the arrow next to the server name and open the server settings. Here, you’ll be able to play with your server name and image, create and manage roles, add stickers and widgets and create an invite link to get new members in the server.
When you’re done with that, create text and voice channels for your server. All Discord servers have both types of channels. It’s a good idea to give each text channel a distinct purpose. For example, create separate channels for sharing photos, asking questions, off-topic conversations, etc. You have complete freedom over this, and the same applies for voice channels.
When you have all the text channels and at least one voice channel set up, you can invite new users to the server. Do this by clicking the arrow next to your server name, then clicking on “invite people.” Discord will then give you a list of suggested users to invite, as well as a link you can send to people to have them join your server.
Joining a Discord Server
With Discord, you don’t always have to create your own server — you can also join someone else’s. There are thousands of servers available for you to pick from, both public and private. Joining them is as simple as clicking an invite link or getting a friend on that server to add you.
Many online communities post invite links publicly, usually on their website or social media profiles. If it’s a private server, you’ll need a member of that server to create an invite link and send it to you.
You can join as many servers as you want, and then organize them into folders. From the Discord interface, you can create server folders by clicking on a server from your list and dragging it on top of another server you want in the same folder. After that, add other servers to said folder by dragging them into it.
Advanced Tools and User Settings
Friends and servers are merely the basics of Discord. The platform has a variety of features and configurable options that allow you to customize your experience and make it faster and easier. Features include Markdown formatting language, custom keybinds, integrating Discord with third-party apps and setting up bots on your server.
Markdown is a lightweight language that allows you to quickly style and format your text in a creative way. Discord supports Markdown, which means that you can easily make your text look like this, or like this, or even
like this. Here’s a quick table that will show you all the different styles.
|What You Type:||What Discord Shows:|
|*This is italics*||This is italics|
|**This is bold**||This is bold|
|__This is underline__||This is underline|
|~~This is strikethrough~~|
|***This is bold italics***||This is bold italics|
|__**This is underline bold**__||This is underline bold|
Discord also supports code blocks and block quotes, both of which can be one line or multiline. Text wrapped in backticks (`) is a code block, and text that follows > and a space is a block quote. Wrapping the text in three backticks results in a multiline code block, and using three block quotes gives you a multiline block quote.
A keybind is a custom keyboard shortcut that lets you perform a certain action with a few keystrokes. If you’ve ever used a macro in a word processor, it’s not too different.
Discord allows you to create keybinds for specific actions. You’ll find them under “keybinds” in the user settings (the gear icon next to your username), and you can choose which keybind corresponds to which action. If you use a certain action often, creating a keybind will make it much faster and more convenient.
Some of the most common keybinds include push-to-talk, muting or deafening users, or leaving a voice channel. Discord enables you to set up a keybind for pretty much whatever you want, so by all means play around with it.
If you want to, you can integrate Discord with other apps such as Battle.net, Steam, Spotify and Reddit. Depending on the integration, you’ll be able to display things like the song you’re listening to or the game you’re playing on Steam, on your Discord profile.
If you want to integrate any of the available apps, click on your user settings icon, then click “connections” from the left-side pane. Then, click the icon for the app you’d like to connect to and you’ll be taken to the app’s integration screen to finish the process.
Discord bots are one of the most underestimated features of the app. You’ll need administrator privileges to add bots to a server, but they can completely transform the way the server works. There are thousands of bots you can choose from, and you can even create one yourself, though that requires coding knowledge.
Bot functionality ranges from simple things, such as playing music in voice chats, to posting memes, moderating servers, setting up a leveling system in your server, and more. You can even add role-playing games or back up your entire server.
One thing to note about Discord bots is that if you aren’t careful, they can spell disaster for the server you’re installing them on. Misconfiguring a bot that has high-level privileges can be dangerous, so be sure to exercise caution and back up your server regularly.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, always read the documentation of the bots you’re installing. Pay special attention to how each bot uses the privileges you’re granting it, and avoid giving more permissions than the bot explicitly needs. If you aren’t using a particular bot, remove it from your server rather than leaving it idle.
Discord is an extremely versatile platform for voice and instant messaging, allowing you to communicate with your friends and meet new people with common interests. That being said, if you haven’t used it before, it can be a tad overwhelming.
Adding friends and talking to them over voice or a video call, joining servers and new channels, creating servers and using Discord’s advanced features are all part of the Discord experience, and we hope we’ve made it a bit easier for you.
If your country or school bans Discord, be sure to use the best Discord VPN to get around the ban. If you’re wondering whether discord is safe, read our is Discord safe and be the judge. If you experiencing any difficulties when trying to connect to voice or video channels, check out our ‘Discord is not working‘ guide to find the way out.
Do you use Discord often? Have you created your own server or are you just hanging out in other servers and communities? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading.