How to use WhatsApp on a Linux desktop

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WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging service available for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. The unavailability of an official WhatsApp client for Linux has left users wondering whether or not they can use WhatsApp on a Linux desktop.

The straightforward answer is yes. While you have the choice of running WhatsApp on an Android emulator, there has to be a better way, without emulation. Therefore, in this article, we will see how you can use WhatsApp on Linux.

1. Using the web version of WhatsApp

If you don’t need a dedicated app to use WhatsApp on Linux, you can easily get by with WhatsApp Web, an official web client that you can run in a browser. To get started, go to web.whatsapp.com.


whatsapp web connection

On your smartphone, launch WhatsApp and tap on the three dots icon at the top right. Faucet Linked devices > Link a device and scan the QR code displayed on the Linux desktop.

WhatsApp will automatically load your messages and present them in a streamlined interface, with contacts on the left side and a chat window on the right.

While you can’t make calls and participate in video conferences, WhatsApp Web is still handy if you want to easily access your chats on a Linux desktop.

Note that this is the only official way to use WhatsApp on Linux. The other methods mentioned in the coming sections use third-party clients developed by Linux application developers.

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2. Using third party WhatsApp clients

Thanks to the open source software community, developers have created several unofficial clients for WhatsApp over the years. Note that like WhatsApp Web, you will not be able to make calls using these desktop clients, as these apps only act as a wrapper for the web version of WhatsApp.

WhatsOffice

WhatsDesk is, unsurprisingly, an unofficial desktop client for WhatsApp. The app is available for all major Linux distributions including Debian, Ubuntu, Arch Linux, and Fedora.

To get started, first install WhatsDesk on your system by running the appropriate commands given below.

WhatsDesk is available as a snap package and you can install it on any system that supports Snap, regardless of the distribution. Note that you must install snap on your system before proceeding with the following command:

sudo snap install whatsdesk

You can install the app on Arch Linux using an AUR wizard like Yay:

yay -S whatsdesk

Once installed, launch the application from the Applications menu. At first glance, you will notice a QR code and a few steps you need to follow to log in.


Whatsdesk qr code

To continue, open WhatsApp on your smartphone and click on the three-dot menu icon. Then select Linked devices and press Link a device.

As soon as you scan the QR code on your desktop, all your chats will appear on WhatsDesk, the same as on WhatsApp Web.


desktop interface

Francois

Franz is a messaging platform that you can use to manage your WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, and Slack chats. Several other services are also supported by Franz, including but not limited to HipChat and Hangouts.

First of all, you will need to install Franz on your system. Go to the Franz download page and select the AppImage download from the available options. Once downloaded, simply double click on the file to launch Franz.

To download: Francois

The Franz DEB package is also available for Ubuntu and Debian users. To install the package, first download it to an appropriate directory. Then navigate to the directory using cd and run the following command to install Franz:

sudo dpkg -i franz-*.deb

In addition to the AppImage, Arch Linux users can also download Franz from the AUR using Yay:

yay -S franz

After installation, launch Franz from the Applications menu or from the terminal. When you open the app, you are given options to sign in and create a free account. If you are new to Franz, create an account by clicking on Create a free account. Otherwise, click Sign into your account and provide your account credentials.


Franz login screen

When creating an account, enter your details next to the corresponding fields and click on Create an account proceed. Franz will now ask you which services you want to connect. Highlight WhatsApp and click Let’s go Carry on.


select French messaging platforms

Franz will automatically load the WhatsApp web window and display the QR code. Scan the QR code with your smartphone by tapping on the three-dot icon in WhatsApp and then Linked devices > Link a device.

Your messages and chats will start to load the same way as WhatsApp Web. You get the contacts view on the left and the chat box on the right.


run whatsapp on franz linux

In addition to WhatsApp, you can also connect new services with Franz by clicking on the More icon in the lower left corner of the screen.

3. Run WhatsApp on an Android emulator

If, surprisingly, none of the aforementioned methods work for you, you can try installing WhatsApp on an emulator; however, using an emulator should be the last resort. You can set up an Android machine on Linux using Anbox or Genymotion and install WhatsApp on it.

Note that if you log into WhatsApp from an emulator, you will be logged out of your account on your smartphone. This is mainly because running WhatsApp on an Android emulator is the same as running it on a physical Android device, and WhatsApp only lets you use the app on one device at a time.

Access your WhatsApp chats on Linux

While working on a computer, no one likes to switch to their smartphone just to check their emails or new messages. In Linux, you have the option to access your WhatsApp messages from the desktop, using either WhatsApp Web or third-party desktop clients like Franz and WhatsDesk.


If you consider yourself to be an experienced Linux user and want to do most of the operations from the command line, you can try WhatsCLI, a terminal-based WhatsApp client that offers most of the features you get in the traditional WhatsApp app.


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