Instant messaging service WhatsApp has announced a desktop app, offering yet another way to make it as easy as possible to keep up to date with all your WhatsApp messages throughout the day.

The desktop app works in exactly the same way as WhatsApp web, which launched in January 2015 and it is available to download now for Windows 8 and above, and Mac OS 10.9 and above.

Here is a brief guide to the new WhatsApp desktop app and how to make sure you get the most out of it.

The WhatsApp desktop app is an extension of your smartphone. It mirrors all the conversations and messages you have on your phone and allows you to see them all and reply to them all on your desktop using your computer's keyboard instead of the tiny keyboard on your smartphone.

The WhatsApp desktop app also means you can see exactly what is going on in your WhatsApp world while working on a Word document or replying to an email, without needing to take your smartphone out of your pocket.

Just like the WhatsApp Web platform, the WhatsApp desktop app initially requires you to scan a QR code using your mobile phone in order to access your messages and conversations. Once you've done this though, you can put your phone in your desk drawer or pocket and forget about it.

The desktop app will pull up all of your conversations, deliver any new messages and allow you to start new chats or search your current conversations. You'll also get access to your profile, along with some basic settings and any archived chats. It's basically exactly the same as WhatsApp Web but you don't need to have a browser open.

The WhatsApp desktop app doesn't offer exactly the same functionality as the smartphone app when it comes to settings but responding to messages and starting new chats is exactly the same, just easier and faster as you have a bigger display and better keyboard functionality.

You'll need to download the WhatsApp desktop app first, then scan the QR code on your computer screen using your smartphone, as we mentioned. To do this on iPhone, open the WhatsApp app on your device, go to Settings then WhatsApp Web and the box will appear ready to scan your desktop screen. On Android, open the WhatsApp app, go to three dots in the top right corner and tap WhatsApp Web.

Your messages and conversations will then appear on your computer screen. You can change the size of the window, as well as minimise it if you want to. On Mac, any new messages will appear in the top right of your display, as they do with other applications such as Mail and Slack.

To view your profile, change your status or change your profile picture, click on your picture at the top of the desktop app. Next to your picture is the symbol that will allow you to start a new chat, while the small arrow next to new chat symbol will bring up a drop down menu.

The drop down menu is where you will find your archived chats, another way to get to your profile and status, as well as the option to start a new group. The settings are also within this menu, consisting of access to any blocked contacts and notification preferences, including turning sound on or off, as well as choosing whether or not to show previews.

Hovering over each individual chat in the main screen will also bring up a small arrow for that particular chat, offering a couple more options. You can archive a chat, mute it, delete it or mark it as unread from here.

There are also more options in each individual chat. At the top left of a particular chat, you'll see their name and when they were last online, if they have this feature activated. In the top right, there is the paperclip symbol for attaching any media, along with another small arrow that brings up another drop down menu. Within this menu, you can select messages within that particular chat, mute the chat, clear it and delete that particular chat, as well as see contact information for that person. You can also double tap on the bar at the top of the chat and you'll get the option to delete the chat, as well as see the contact's information.

Emoticons and audio notes are also available on the WhatsApp desktop app. You'll find these in the same place as you would on the smartphone app, either side of the message typing box. To send an audio message, press and hold the microphone symbol in the bottom right with your mouse and chat away to your computer. You won't look strange at all in an office full of people.

Don't worry, just like the WhatsApp Web platform, it's easy to log out of the desktop app so no one will be able to access to your messages from your computer when you aren't there.

There are a couple of ways to log out. On iPhone, open the WhatsApp app, heading to Settings > WhatsApp Web > Log out from all computers. On Android, open the WhatsApp app, click on the three dots in the top right > WhatsApp Web > Log out from all computers. Alternatively, you can do it on the desktop app itself by clicking on the arrow in the top left next to the new chat symbol and selecting log out from the menu.

To download the WhatsApp desktop app, head to from your desktop browser and hit download. Warning: You'll get absolutely no work done once you've done this but your social organising skills will greatly improve.

READ: WhatsApp tips and tricks