Plenty of apps come in both mobile and web versions now—in fact it’s increasingly rare to find a phone app that you can’t also access through a desktop or laptop—and there are four in particular that I find I’m loading up in a browser tab on my computer more often than I’m launching them on my smartphone.

While there’s still a lot to be said for the mobile versions of these apps (not least the ability to take photos and videos directly), being able to use a larger screen and a proper keyboard makes a huge difference.

If you’ve never used these apps on Windows or macOS, give them a go—you might be surprised at how many of their features and functions are carried over. These web versions are also easier to switch to while you’re working on something else, so you’re spending less time unlocking your phone and switching between devices unnecessarily.


Head to WhatsApp on the web in your browser, and you’ll be presented with a QR code. You can scan it from your phone by tapping the three dots on the Chats tab (Android) or the Settings tab (iOS), then Linked devices and Link a device. Your phone’s camera opens and you can scan the QR code being displayed in your browser.

When you’ve got a lot of messaging to do, you can’t beat a keyboard for typing—in just a few minutes I can be caught up on all the one-to-one and group chats I’ve been neglecting, and it’s super easy to jump between conversations. You can quickly select multiple chats to mute them, or mark them as read or unread, and there’s a filter function for quickly seeing all your unread conversations in one place.

Messaging is much easier with a full keyboard.
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You’re able to load up files, photos, and videos from your computer as well as snapping photos and videos with your webcam, so WhatsApp for the web really helps when you need to share stuff from your computer rather than your phone—for me it’s used most often when I’m trying to organize something, and I need to get a lot of documents to a lot of people at the same time.

In fact, there’s not much you can’t do in the web version of WhatsApp compared to the mobile version, except for sharing your location. It’s great for deleting messages or archiving chats en masse, and there are a good number of settings to play around with too, covering everything from notifications to group chat access. Keyboard shortcuts are supported too, so you can do your WhatsApping even faster.

Google Messages

Direct your browser to Google Messages on the web, and if you’re already signed into Google, getting connected is as easy as picking the account you want to use, and opening Google Messages on your phone to confirm the link. You can also use a QR code to connect, which you can scan by opening the mobile Google Messages app, tapping your avatar (top right), then choosing Device pairing.

The Google Messages web app isn’t as fully featured as the WhatsApp one—you can’t select multiple conversations at once, for example, or filter messages—but there’s still a lot that you can do. Messages can be muted, deleted, and archived in just a few clicks, and starting new chats (or group chats) is simple as well.

Google Messages on the web supports SMS and RCS.
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One of the best uses I’ve found for Google Messages on the web is organizing a weekly sports event, because I can copy and paste the same messages to all the players involved without setting up yet another group chat—and nobody really needs another one of those. RCS features, including individual message replies and emoji reactions, are included too.

You get a decent collection of settings here as well: There are dark modes and high contrast modes you can switch to, plus a range of options around notifications in your browser (including message previews) to alert you to new messages. As with WhatsApp, there’s support for a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, to speed up your texting even further.


Instagram on the web made its debut all the way back in 2012, and in the years since it’s added just about every feature from the mobile version of the app. You can now do most of the stuff you do on Instagram from a desktop or laptop—except for snapping photos and recording videos. (What do you mean you don’t use your laptop webcam to take vacation snaps?)

You get your main feed down the center of the screen (a mouse scroll wheel will have you caught up in no time), you get your stories along the top, and via the links to the left you’re able to access search, the Explore page, Reels, and your direct messages. You can also create new posts too, assuming you’ve got the photos or videos you need stored somewhere on your computer.

Instagram on the web has grown to be very fully featured.
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Scrolling through stories works particularly well on the web, because you can click forwards and backwards, or click to pause, and even skip several stories ahead to get to the friends that you’re actually interested in. You can reply to stories and add emoji reactions, just like you can on your phone.

Instagram on the web is also a place where you can view and curate your own profile—there are tools for editing your profile, seeing posts you’ve saved and posts you’re tagged in, and even changing your account settings. If there’s something I need to do on Instagram these days, I usually do it on the web—and you can improve the experience even more with browser extensions for Instagram.


Snapchat on the web isn’t quite as fully featured as the Instagram equivalent, but there’s still a lot you can do—including sending snaps to your contacts via whatever webcam or other camera might be hooked up to your computer. If you use Snapchat as an instant messenger, like I do, then having the keyboard and mouse really helps.

What you can’t do—not yet at least—is view snaps sent directly to you. That puts the web interface a step behind the mobile app in terms of functionality, but perhaps that’s intentional on Snapchat’s part: You can see that new snaps have come in, but you can’t view them. You can, however, view stories, and they sit snugly up on the right of the interface next to your chats.

Use Snapchat on the web to view stories and send photos and videos from your computer.
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You can send photos and videos inline in conversations, so if you have files you want to share on your computer, the web interface is the place to do it. You’re also able to make video and audio calls to your contacts on Snapchat on the web, which again is handy if you use Snapchat as a communication hub rather than just somewhere to sit back and scroll through content.

As far as other features go, you can respond to and initiate friend requests on the web; you can set up new group chats (and calls); you can configure browser notifications; and you can choose between light and dark themes—all on a large monitor screen that’s easier to work with than your phone’s much smaller display.