[Updated 2021] Viewing Facebook Messages Without Installing The Messenger App

UPDATE: I added some additional info to the end of this post based on all of the great comments from users. Be sure to read all the way to the end.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of stink over the fact that Facebook is splitting its messaging functionality out into a new Facebook Messenger app.

Some fear-mongers have been spreading rumors that Facebook plans to use your camera and microphone to listen in on your private conversations, while Facebook has sent pretty clear messages that it has no intent to do so.

The result, however, has been quite a few conversations where friends and family have asked me whether they should avoid installing the Messenger app and whether there are options to open messages sent via Messenger without using the app.

The quick answer is yes…and it’s a lot easier than you think.

The new Facebook Messenger app has been called Evil...is it?There have been a few changes to Messenger in the fact that there is a new app, but do you need it to view your Facebook messages?

TL;DR – For those who want the quick answer without having to read the entire post, you can read your Facebook Messenger messages by accessing Facebook through a browser, not the mobile app. Once you navigate to Facebook in your browser, you can open Messenger from within the Web view and read your messages.

There is no special Messenger login that you need and there is no special Messenger login online. It’s just the standard Facebook.com interface. 

Do We REALLY Think Facebook Is Spying On Us Using The Messenger App?

My response has been pretty simple. Even if it were true, and Facebook were spying…is your life really that interesting? If you’re concerned with Facebook listening in on your conversations, maybe you should rethink what activities you’re engaged in.

No…Facebook is not really interested in your rants during your kids soccer game.

Surprise…they don’t want to hear you use the terms “ping”, “strategize” and “leverage” in your corporate meetings.

It’s true…Facebook is not interested in any of your embarrassing bathroom noises while you play Candy Crush Saga on the toilet.

Believe it or not, Facebook does not care that you're playing Candy Crush Saga on the toilet. Click To Tweet

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but installing the Messenger app isn’t going to place your privacy in any more risk than the already embarrassing photos and “woe is me” posts that you’re putting on Facebook yourself.

So calm down, don’t believe the fear-mongers….just relax. If you think that using Facebook Messenger presents a privacy challenge, then you need to also consider whether posting on Facebook is a challenge.

If you are concerned with protecting your privacy, then maybe deleting your Facebook account (including Messenger) is the right move. That’s not what I’m advocating, though…I’m just saying that oversharing on Facebook (something that you do) is just as much of a privacy issue as what Facebook does with your data.

YES, Facebook is harvesting your data. YES, Facebook is using that data to show you customized ads, status updates from your friends and family. YES, that is a little creepy.

But consider the last time you paid Facebook for a membership fee. You haven’t.

In the world of marketing that says “if you aren’t buying the product, you ARE the product” and that’s exactly what is happening with Facebook. You are paying with your privacy.

That’s not the end of the world, though.

Facebook Messenger Doesn’t Represent The End Of Our Personal Privacy

Installing Facebook Messenger is not the end of your privacy…unless we want it to be. You can still use the phone to call people. You can still text. You can still email.

If you choose not to use Facebook Messenger, great! That’s ok.

It’s one less communication channel that you need to check while you’re sitting at the stoplight holding everyone else up in line when the light turns green and you’re fixated on your phone.

{STOP THAT, PEOPLE!!}

But if you don’t believe me and you NEED your Facebook messages, yet are terrified that adding it to your phone will require you to wear a foil hat for the rest of your life so Facebook doesn’t steal your thoughts, then here are the instructions on how to get them.

NOTE: No…it’s not optimal. Yes, it’s kind of cludgy…but if you want the best experience, simply install the app and get over it.

Viewing Facebook Messages On Your Mobile Device Or Tablet Without Using The Facebook App

  1. Install Chrome on your device. If you are an Android user, it’s already on your phone.
  2. Open Chrome and navigate to https://www.facebook.com (don’t log in yet)
  3. Open the context menu within Chrome and check the box next to “Request Desktop Site”
  4. Reload the page and you should see the Facebook.com desktop site. IF the browser redirects you to m.facebook.com try just manually adjusting the URL back to facebook.com (removing the m.)
  5. Log in.
  6. Click the Messages link in the left nav under your profile photo to see your messages and respond to them.

Using Chrome, you can request the desktop version of FacebookYou can still view your Facebook messages on your mobile device by viewing the desktop version of Facebook in your mobile browser. Just be sure to use the “Request desktop site” feature in Chrome to make sure you see the desktop version of Facebook, not the mobile version.

Again, not the best user experience, but it gets you to your messages without ever having to bow to the privacy will of Facebook and their desire that you download their second, stand-alone Facebook Messenger app.

If you don't want to install the Messenger app, you can still view your Facebook messages on your mobile device. Click To Tweet

Except for the fact that you basically gave away all privacy expectations when you “Agreed” to the Facebook terms of use by creating your account.

Oh yeah…that small detail.

I hope this helps. I also hope this post gets zero traffic because people aren’t silly enough to Google “how can I view my Facebook messages on my phone without installing the Messenger app”.

We’ll see….

Cheers!

–Sean


Update – I am astonished by the responses to this post…AND I apologize for being a snarky SOB.

Wow…just wow.

First, let me apologize to my readers for the high-level of snark in this post. I probably went a little overboard and if it offends folks, sorry. Not my intent.

Second, I cannot believe the traffic this post is generating.

What that means to me is there are lots of real, legitimate reasons that people want to view Facebook Messenger messages without installing the mobile app. If you read the comments below, you’ll see that my readers have (once again) done a great job chiming in and sharing their reasons.

Some of them include the following:

Facebook Messenger Concern #1 – Privacy

Not wanting to give away all of your private information, although I don’t see how viewing the messages in the desktop version vs the mobile app makes any difference on that front. Facebook still has all your messages and can still read them, regardless of the platform.

Facebook Messenger Concern #2 – Resources, mainly storage on your phone

This one is SUPER valid.

On my Samsung Galaxy, the Facebook Messenger app is a bloated whale on an app.

The current version of the app takes up 408 MB of storage.  That’s nearly half a gig of storage for a single app.

By comparison, What’s App Messenger only takes up 19MB of storage and is a very similar type of messenger app. If you’re short on storage or your phone doesn’t allow you to move apps to your SD card, I can see why you would be unhappy with Messenger.

Facebook Messenger Concern #3 – A loathe for chat applications

If you hate chat apps, then you should love the fact that Facebook split Messenger out, so you don’t have to install it. I completely get it.

Facebook Messenger Concern #4 – Battery Life

Again, a very fair and valid point.

Now, instead of one app checking for Facebook messages, you have two. Two apps essentially performing a very similar function on a similar schedule could really impact your battery life.

The solution? Look at the settings for both the Facebook and Messenger apps and adjust how frequently the apps are searching for new messages or data.

Facebook Messenger Concern #5 – Data Consumption

Not everyone has unlimited data on their mobile phone plan, I get it.

But in the single Facebook app that included Messenger, you didn’t have a choice as to whether you wanted to get messages on your phone or not. You either installed the Facebook app and got the messages, or you didn’t install the app and got nothing.

With the division of Facebook the app and Facebook Messenger, you can save data by choosing not to install the Messenger app. For those that want the best of both worlds, Facebook even included a “Data Saver” feature in Messenger to reduce the amount of data that the app uses by not automatically downloading images and videos.

To access the data saver feature, open Facebook Messenger and then click your profile photo. There should be a “Data Saver” menu item in the options that appear.

The Facebook Messenger data saver feature can limit the automatic downloads of images and videosThe Facebook Messenger data saver feature can limit the automatic downloads of images and videos

Facebook Messenger Concern #6 – The Facebook Messenger App Crashes

It has gotten better, but at the beginning, Messenger was a hulking piece of $hit. I certainly expected more from Facebook (which I probably shouldn’t have). I feel like it’s a lot more stable, so maybe this has been worked out. That is, until they try to add more advertisements in 😉

So, there you have it. An apology and an update. Just like every other human blogger out there, I sometimes let my opinion and snark get in the way of the fact that my goal is to actually help folks navigate social media.

If my sarcasm got in the way of doing that, sorry. But keep the great comments coming. I can take the criticism, it’s okay  😉

Just to show you that I try not to take myself too seriously, here’s me with my foil hat. Yes, I understand that it will now live on the Internet forever.

I try not to take myself too seriouslyI try not to take myself too seriously

Cheers!

–Sean


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Tips on how to read your Facebook Messenger messages without ever installing the app
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Reading Facebook Messenger messages without installing the app

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Comments And Reactions

  1. I like how I’m browsing pages on one computer, not even logged in with a Facebook account or any personal account. My phone being physically close to the computer I’m using. And the next day, the ads a from the same pages show up on my Facebook page.
    For example, I was browsing Philips products on a reseller’s page. And the next day, Philips ads show up on my Facebook news feed, first time ever!
    This has happened a lot of times now.
    I don’t even have the app ’cause I’m not addicted to chatting nor internet. But I definitely am skeptical of the spying. I also, in real life, invite strangers to my home. Same goes for the apps.

  2. I just resent having to install two apps to use one single website so I’ve been using the browser to do both jobs. However as of Dec 2020 it no longer works and the desktop site throws up a broken link message when you try to view messages.

  3. I’ve been using facebook for messaging for ages but now (dec.2020) few months after the design changes it stopped working everywhere except desktop computer and messenger app. Desktop view in a phone is just unusable. I was using it in the old blue style, mobile version, rest of the site in this view is working but only messages not, it says the ling has been removed. So I am supposed to be forced to use a phone with an app only to access messages. I can still use the old phone without messenger app to see everything on facebook or even see if I got a message, but I cannot read the message. Error. Thank you facebook. I will look for other ways to access messages or message people other ways on my “old” sony ericsson Aino from 2009, which still works great. Unlike iphones or worse Android phones, which are not as reliable. I was happy co cone back to Sony ericsson year ago after ca.7 years of iphones. What a change! Can still access everything with a percents of data usage of an iphone and a days of battery lasting with the original battery! Thats a reason for me. Now they have to remake the messages in new style for mobile view, as it has been for years. Not to force people to use desktop view, desktop app or mobile app. But unluckily it’s not in our hands so much

    • Yesterday I was could use facebook masseages in mobile view on the opera on the android) because chrome was opening store with messenger, fuuuu****k!). Today the icon from top panel was left!!! Still it is on the main menu named “Messages”, but when i click it opening site address /messages/ but there is info like: link is broken or page was deleted… NO, NO, NO! How to life now f**k, f**k!

  4. (Post nr.2, first is above)
    This is not obly about me and using over 10 years old phone, but it’s also about many newer phones, including android and iphones, running older OS versions which do not support new versions of messenger app. And there are other reasons to access without messenger app, we are free to decide if we want the app or not. Or someone else, owner of the device, will not let the user install the app. And what about users using other than Android or iOS systems? Blackberry? Is everything outdated and do we have to throw the device every second year and buy new, this time not because or apple but because of facebook? I have an iPhone but I don’t want to use it and don’t want to use two phones. So I will have to keep it for times when I need a messenger on the way, outside of my laptop and switch the sim card to the iphone every time I feel I beed a messenger outside. Let’s find another way to communicate, or I will just stick to old style calling and sms. Stupid.

    • *not ONLY about me
      *because OF apple
      *every time i feel a NEED
      Typos on tiny qwerty is one reason I don’t like my iPhone so much anymore. Autocorrect will just switch it to very different word, and likely into different language.

  5. Yesterday I was could use facebook masseages in mobile view on the opera on the android) because chrome was opening store with messenger, fuuuu****k!). Today the icon from top panel was left!!! Still it is on the main menu named “Messages”, but when i click it opening site address /messages/ but there is info like: link is broken or page was deleted… NO, NO, NO! How to life now f**k, f**k!

  6. Vika Korotayeva says

    I receive messages from hundreds of profiles and try to reply everyone. But, since 2020.12.11, whenever I tried to open my FB-inbox – a pink note said, that, the page is currently unavailable. I’ve reported the problem to FB-team. Then, since 2020.12.17, the “Message” link has disappeared at all. I’ve reported that problem too. My phone is Nokia E50. I haven’t any computer. I can see “Messages” in other profiles and pages. But, it seems, if there is already some earlier convo – the chat opens to the above-mentioned pink note. If there is no convos yet – the chat opens to a texting-field. I’ve tried to send a text into one of those empty-chat profiles. So, I’ve typed the text and pressed “Send”. After that, the usual pink note showed up. I don’t know whether the text has been sent to the person. It’s 2020.12.24 today, and the “Message” link is still not existent in my profile, at least in my device. Notifications-system is poor. So, PMing seems to be a much better option for convos than commenting is. Alas, PMing is unavailable to me now. Messenger doesn’t install into my phone. FB is weird for leaving the PMing option only to desktops…

  7. The messenger ‘Active Contacts” icon is always in my way when I’m o n Facebook. Do I have to uninstall Messenger to get rid of it?
    Thanks!

  8. AnonymousDude says

    You can use Safari by going into Safari options and enabling “Request Desktop Website.” Then go to facebook.com You should be able to message now without downloading the facebook app.

  9. Two reasons I will not install messenger, ever:

    1) it whines about access to my address book every time I open it. Thanks, but no thanks. I communicate with my Facebook friends using Facebook messages, nobody else.

    2) it asks permission to show notifications WITH SOUND every time I open it. No messaging application makes sound on my phone. Not even sms. I decide when I want to see if someone has sent me a message, I’m not the phone’s slave.

    I got tired of refusing these two on a daily basis. Who decides how I use my phone? Me or Facebook?

  10. I don’t think you should have to apologize for being snarky. I’ve been on a few groups on Facebook recently and people are WAY TOO SENSITIVE! Remember forum wars? I mean, people read way too much into a few simple words like Facebook doesn’t care about the noises you make while playing Candy Crush on the toilet – like, do you think they should???? Really???? LOL But then, I’m the type of person to make incendiary comments on someone’s Facebook and get defriended only to send them a message a few weeks later asking for their mailing address so I can send them a handmade glass bead. (I got the address, BTW and we had a nice conversation) I signed up for your newsletter. Cheers!

  11. And as of today, FB is insisting I install an app on my Mac just to access messenger. Bah!

  12. The issue that the military will now experience is being unable to reach out to family and friends using Facebook messenger… Everyone has to use the mobile site since it takes up less bandwidth. We are not allowed or able to access the full website nor use any apps on our government computers. Facebook will now alienate service members from using their product. They need to allow you to access your messages without having to use the messenger application, otherwise we will not be able to talk to family and friends without using our email, which is slower to send and receive than the website. Might end up deleting my account after this since it is such a hassle to talk to my friends and family now. Very upset and disappointed with Facebook.

  13. As of a few weeks ago in Early March, Android users no longer can use any browser to access Fakebük Messenger. Opera, Chrome, Brave, etc all have been blocked, forcing users to visit a page to download and install Messenger.


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