Back by popular demand, it’s time for WeChat II: Revenge of the Creepy Staring Speech Bubbles, my friends.
I’ve been scouring the murky depths of WeChat’s Settings pages to bring you more useful tricks for getting the most out of China’s favorite app/religion, and I think I’ve got some pretty good ones.
So, without further ado, here are five (more) WeChat hacks to save you time and effort:
1. Self-scanning QR codes
British comedian Frank Skinner has a regular feature on his radio show called ‘idiotic eureka moments,’ when you suddenly realize something that you really should have known before – as Flo Rida calls himself Flo Rida because he’s from Florida, for example – and this is how I felt when I found out about this first trick. Once I heard about it, it seemed so obvious that I even questioned putting it in here. But a lot of the people I tested it out on didn’t know about it either, so I thought it was worth sharing.
Usually, if you find something (or someone) interesting and you want to check out their website or WeChat feed, you whip out your phone and scan the QR code on the relevant flyer, phone, ill-advised tattoo, or whatever.
But what happens if the QR code is on your phone? For example, maybe you’ve read an interesting WeChat article that your friend shared on her Moments, and you want to subscribe to the feed. You can’t scan your own screen, right?
Wrong! You can, and it’s really easy. All you have to do is press and hold the QR code, and select ‘Extract QR code’ from the little menu that pops up. It’s that simple. So if you’re new to Enjoy Shanghai and you’re enjoying this article, you have no excuse not to subscribe to our feed using the code below!
2. Transfer money
Being a laowai, I of course love to ‘go AA’ (or go Dutch) when I go out for meals with friends. But if you’re in a big group, splitting the bill can turn into a slow descent into despair as yet another person realizes they ‘only have a hundred’ and someone tries to work out how to split the fifty RMB change seven ways.
Luckily, you can bypass this process completely using WeChat Wallet. All you need to do is to nominate one kind person to pay the whole check, and then everyone can transfer the exact amount they owe to that person through WeChat.
To transfer money to someone, you must have your bank card linked to your Wallet account and you must be connected to that person on WeChat. Once you’ve done that, transferring the money is very easy. From the Me tab, tap Wallet and then select Transfer. Choose the person you want to pay from your list of contacts, and then type in the amount. Once you’ve hit ‘Transfer,’ you will have to enter your PIN number. As soon as you’ve done that, your friend will receive a message alerting him to the transfer, and he/she just needs to tap ‘Accept’ to complete the transaction.
3. Sync your Moments with Facebook
Sick of having to post separate updates to let your China friends and your friends from back home know what you’re up to? Don’t worry, you can connect your WeChat and Facebook accounts and post a photo of your lunch to both platforms at once!
Syncing the accounts is fairly straightforward (though you will need to have a VPN connection to confirm the sync via Facebook). From the Me tab, go to Settings, then My Account. On the My Account menu, you will see ‘Facebook – Not Linked’ – tap that and then hit ‘Link to Facebook Account.’
This will take you to Facebook, and a button will appear saying ‘Continue as [your name]’. Tap this button, and you be taken to a final page that allows you to select the privacy settings for your synced updates. Once you’ve hit ‘OK,’ you will be taken back to WeChat and a ‘Linked Successfully’ confirmation message. And that’s it – welcome to a brave new world of posting inside and outside the Great Firewall at the same time!
If this gets annoying, or you find that you don’t want to inflict all your random WeChat rants on your friends from outside China, you can ‘unlink’ your Facebook account any time from the My Account section of WeChat by tapping Facebook, and then Unlink.
4. Chatlog migrations
90% of the stuff we chat to each other on WeChat is probably complete crap. But it’s nice crap, and we’d be sad to lose that crap if we had to switch phone for whatever reason.
Once upon a time, it was possible to back up your chat history to the cloud really easily, but the WeChat gods decided to punish us by withdrawing that feature about a year ago. Now, the only way to access your old chat logs from a new device is to transfer them to that device via Wi-Fi.
Luckily, doing this is pretty easy. From Settings, go to General, and you’ll find Chat Log Migration near the bottom of the menu. Tap that, and then on the next page hit the Select Chat History button. This will take you to a list of your chats – you can select them individually or tap Select All at the bottom of the screen. Once you’re done choosing, tap Done and you will be taken to a new page displaying a QR code. To transfer the chat logs, you’ll need to login to your WeChat account via your new device, and scan the QR code using that device. The transfer should start straight away.
5. Video calls
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a ‘hack’, but a lot of people don’t realize just how good WeChat’s voice call service really is.
Skype and FaceTime calls that constantly break off or freeze are an endless source of frustration for most ex-pats, but I’ve found that using WeChat for video calls can reduce this problem a lot. For calls within China, it’s way better, and it can sometimes be better for international calls, too. The only problem is convincing your friends abroad to get WeChat…
To video call, someone on WeChat, select the person you want to call from your contacts list, and on their profile tap ‘Free Call’, then ‘Video Call’. The call will start straight away.
What’s your favorite lesser-known WeChat feature?
If you’ve got a useful tip for anyone trying to get to grips with WeChat, post us a comment below and let us know!