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What is Discord and how to use it: The free chat app for gamers explored

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People love to stay in touch. Whether it’s chatting with friends and family on video calls , messaging on WhatsApp , or getting in touch while working remotely with Microsoft Teams or Slack . Players are no different.

In the past, gamers used text chat services like X-Fire or VOIP servers like Mumble, Teamspeak, or Ventrilo. However, things have come a long way since then and both the technology and the demands have changed.

Now the modern gamer needs something that does it all and Discord is the free software that does it.

What is Discord?

At a basic level, Discord is one of the easiest ways to communicate with your friends via voice, text, and video. If you’ve tried Slack at work , think of Discord as the same thing, just aimed directly at gamers and with a lot more features.

Discord is cross-platform and can also be used wherever you are. It is free to download for Windows, Mac, Android , iOS , and even Linux.

You can also use it directly in a web browser without downloading it. So not only can you use it while you’re at your gaming machine, but you can also stay in touch when you’re away from home.

Discord allows friends to chat with each other, either individually or as a group through a server. You can use it to send direct messages to your friends, make video calls with them, voice chat and even share your screen.

Once you’re on a server, you can join a voice chat channel to talk to other players who are playing certain games.

Discord is very user-centric and can be as private or public as you like. With Discord you can choose:

  • Who you add as a friend and who can add you
  • Who can send you direct messages
  • who do you block
  • which servers do you join
  • Who can join the servers you create

How to get started with Discord

The first step to getting started with Discord is to download it to your chosen device. Next, you have to sign up for an account . It is worth noting that this is free of charge. The use of Discord is completely free.

When you set up your account, we strongly recommend that you use a strong and secure password and set up two -factor authentication to prevent your account from being used by anyone else and to keep it secure. Discord has a detailed guide on setting up two-factor authentication for the app that is worth checking out.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to access a number of options from the settings menu. Click on the gear icon at the bottom left of the screen and you can change all kinds of settings.

This includes things like privacy settings, authorized apps, keyboard shortcuts, voice and video settings, etc. If you want to be safe online, we recommend that you first look at your privacy settings. From there you can configure Discord to scan direct messages and prevent you from receiving anything inappropriate.

If you use public servers, you can also choose to disable settings that could allow server members to spam you or add you as a friend.

How to find and add friends on Discord

Obviously, a chat app isn’t much use if you don’t have anyone to talk to. Luckily, adding friends is pretty easy. When you’re logged in and on the home page, you’ll see an option marked friends and a big green “Add Friend” button. Ask your friends what their Discord tag is and you can add them from here.

A user’s Discord tag is their username with a # and four digits after it. It looks similar to Provokedprawn#3221 and can be found in the “My Account” page of your settings.

Another, perhaps easier, way to add friends on Discord is to right-click when you’re on a server together and then click Add Friend. Of course, these options will only work if the people you’re trying to add have their privacy settings set to receive invitations from all over the world.

You can also add friends by connecting your other accounts. Add Facebook as a connection in the settings menu and you can sync with your friends from the social network who are already using Discord.

Basic settings to modify

There are a few different settings within Discord that we recommend changing or adjusting before moving forward.

  • Voice and video settings: From here you can choose the input and output of the microphone and headphones, as well as the volumes. It’s a good idea to test these settings and volumes before you start.
  • Input mode : As part of the voice and video settings, you’ll find “voice activity” and “push to talk” as options in input mode. We strongly recommend that you use push to talk. This requires you to press a button every time you speak, but you’ll soon discover that there’s nothing worse than having a person on your voice chat server who has a microphone that is constantly picking up the sounds of their keyboard, the hum of a fan or the barking of a dog in the background. Don’t be that person.
  • Overlay : In settings, you can set Discord to have an overlay appear when you’re playing the game to show you who’s talking. It’s good to know who you’re chatting with when you’re playing. Especially if you want to make new friends.
  • Notifications: Another thing to adjust is the notification sounds. By default, Discord will make all kinds of noises when things happen, for example if someone calls you or joins the channel. If you have configured push to talk, we recommend that you uncheck PTT enable and PTT disable or you will hear constant beeps every time you press the key.

Chat with friends

Once you’ve added your friends and got all the settings right, it’s incredibly easy to start chatting. Click on your friend on the left side and you can send them messages, click to call them and also video chat.

Discord offers you many ways to chat and communicate with your friends. You can use simple text, emoticons and even add gifs. Discord also allows you to share images, so you can send your friends screenshots of your game wins for them to admire.

However, the best way to enjoy Discord is with the servers.

What are Discord servers?

Discord servers are free places where people can meet to chat about games or use voice channels to chat with friends while playing. There are all kinds of servers. Game developers, for example, often have servers for their games, so like-minded gamers can get together to talk about the game and make new friends.

You’ll also find clans, communities, and groups of people with their own Discord server that they might invite you to.

How to create a Discord server

Discord server creation is free. So you have the option to create your own server that you can invite your friends to.

To create your own Discord server follow these steps:

  1. Get on Discord
  2. Click the green plus symbol on the left hand side and click “create a server”
  3. Once created, you can click the plus symbol under “text channels” and “voice channels” to add new channels
  4. You will also find a dropdown menu at the top under the server name where you can access the server settings

The server configuration allows you to do all sorts of things. From here you can create roles for members, including setting admin powers for trusted friends. You can also set moderation levels to prevent new users from spamming text chat or sending inappropriate messages. You can even add custom emojis and create a widget for your server that you can also share elsewhere.

Once your Discord server is created, right-click on the text or voice channel and click invite to send your friends an invite or create a link that helps others join your Discord. server. You can set an expiration time, a maximum number of uses, and even make the membership temporary too if you want to be careful who joins your server.

Discord server text channels

Discord’s text channels are useful for all sorts of things. You can set them up for general jokes, to talk about specific games, to host game sessions with your friends, or just to share things you’ve found on the internet.

Discord voice channels

Voice channels are chat rooms that you can use for VOIP purposes only. Enter a channel and start talking with your friends using your headphones and have a great time.

It should be noted that the server offers you several controls depending on whether you have created it or not. You can do simple things like turn another user’s volume up or down on voice channels by simply right-clicking on their name and adjusting a volume slider. There are also options to mute, kick, ban and much more if you have created the server or have the appropriate privileges.

When you’re on a server, you can also mute and deaf yourself so you won’t be heard or heard by others when you need some quiet time. There’s also usually an AFK (away from keyboard) channel when you need it.

Read the rules

If you are creating a Discord server and you want people to behave in a certain way, you can create a rules channel. It is also possible to make sure that new members read those rules before doing anything.

You can access these settings from your server settings menu by going to server settings > community > member selection.

How to join a Discord server

Just like creating your own Discord server, it’s also easy to join one.

You can also be a member of more than one Discord server. In fact, you can join multiple servers with very little effort. Membership is limited to a maximum of 100 servers.

To join a Discord server you first need an invite from a friend or the owner of the server. Ask them to create a link for you. Next, click the “+” symbol to the left of the server and hit the “join a server” button. So you can enter the link and start. You can also click the hyperlink and it will load Discord with the new server open.

If a link doesn’t work, it could be because you’ve been sent an expired code, you’ve been kicked off the server, or it’s just an incorrect code.

Mute channels

If you join a larger server things might get a bit overwhelming at times. If text channels are used a lot, you will be bombarded with notifications or icons when a channel receives a new message. It’s often best to mute channels you don’t need or want to hear.

Right-click on a text channel and you can choose to mute the channel entirely or set it to only notify you if someone mentions you.

In channels, users can be mentioned directly with @username. Write their name and then your message and they will be notified. You can also use other commands like @here or @everyone to notify everyone on the server. If there are people who like to attract attention, they can use and abuse it and drive you crazy. Don’t worry, you can always disable notifications, so you’re never notified if you don’t want to.

Discord Commands

There are several commands that you can use on Discord servers. These give you quick access to settings or let you do simple things like add a hilarious gif in the middle of a chat.

Basic commands include:

  • @username – This mentions a particular user and will notify them of your message. Replace “username” with the name of the person on the server to send a note to.
  • @here or @everyone – notify everyone to get their attention for something special
  • /giphy term – Insert a gif into the text chat channel
  • /nick name – It is possible to set a new nickname specifically for the server if you are not happy with your current name without changing your username entirely
  • /Message TTS – This command causes your message to be read aloud by a text-to-speech synthesizer. Use it carefully, as the server administrators will quickly shut it down if it is used excessively.
  • /spoiler message – allows you to send a message but hide it behind a spoiler warning so as not to spoil things for people.
  • /tableflip , /unflip and /shrug – are extra commands that add various emojis to the chat, including the classic table and shrug emoji.

There are some other commands you can use as well, but these are the best ones. They are also subject to change as Discord is regularly updated and improved.

What are Discord bots?

As a standard, Discord is already pretty feature-rich and smart too. However, as a server grows, it can become difficult to manage and keep an eye on things. Discord bots are useful in a number of ways. You can add bots to your server to help moderate or do other smart things like integrate with other services and apps.

There are several officially supported and unofficial server bots:

  • Moderation bots: These bots are designed to automatically manage your server. They will prevent spam, manage user bans, and make it easier to use admin commands from chat. Some examples of moderation bots areMEE6,Dyno,GAwesomeBotYGaius.
  • Translation bots: If your server has users from all over the world, then a bot that is capable of translating into multiple languages ​​will be a welcome addition.New View does just that.
  • Image Bots : Enhance your server with bots that can fetch images beyond the usual gifs.Dank Memerpromises to fill your Discord server with funny memes.
  • Music Bots – These bots push music to your server via YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitch, and other services.Rhythm botit also comes with song lyrics, various commands and more.
  • Gaming Bots : Idle hands are the devil’s game. When the server users are not playing or chatting, you can keep them busy with gaming bots.Coffeeis an interesting example.

How to Broadcast on Discord – Go Live Mode

We already know that it is possible to stream your games on Twitch, YouTube, Mixer and others. But if you want to broadcast to a smaller audience, you can use Discord’s Go Live mode to show your game to your friends.

To broadcast on Discord follow these steps:

  1. Click the little TV button with an arrow near your profile settings at the bottom left of the app
  2. Select the app or screen you want to stream to
  3. Then choose the voice channel you want to broadcast on
  4. Then click “Go Live” and you’ll be live for people to see
  5. Click “Invite” to get a direct link that you can give your friends to see

You’ll find a picture-in-picture view of your stream in the corner of Discord. You can also adjust the streaming quality and frame rate from here. Although you do need a Discord Nitro subscription to get the top 1080p and 4K settings here.

To see other users who are broadcasting, just look for the “live” icon next to their names in voice channels. Click on their username and you can hit the “Watch Stream” button to watch the fun unfold.

Notably, Discord’s Go Live feature allows up to 10 people to stream normally, but is currently capped at 50.

Discord Screen Sharing

In addition to going live on Discord, you can also share your screen with individuals and small groups. This is perfect if a friend needs technical support or if you just want to show someone something without the hassle of capturing a video and uploading it to YouTube.

To start screen sharing, you first need to start a video call. Click on a friend, hit the video camera icon at the top of Discord, and start the call. You will then see the screen share icon at the bottom of the screen. Click on it and you will have the option to choose which screen or app you want to share.

Find out more about how to share your screen on Discord here.

What is Discord Nitro?

For the most part, Discord is free to use. There is no cost to use the application or to start a server. However, if you like the experience, you can subscribe to Discord Nitro .

Nitro enhances your already amazing Discord experience with access to things like animated emojis, larger file uploads, higher quality streaming options, and more. It is priced at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Nitro is a great way to show your support for Discord and brag about it too.

Discord Shortcuts

For the professional Discord user, there are a number of keyboard shortcuts you can use to quickly engage in Discord and get your message heard. Here are some of the best. First, press tab on your keyboard, then use the arrow key to highlight a particular message and use these shortcuts:

  • Q – quote message
  • + – add reaction
  • r – reply to message
  • p – anchor the message
  • ALT+Enter – mark as unread

Discord Stage Channels

Stage channels are one option that community servers can use . These offer users the ability to broadcast live chats to a captive audience.

With a stage channel, users can create a place where people can present to an audience in a comfortable and engaging way.

When configured, there are three specific roles: the speakers, the moderators, and the audience. Speakers are the only ones who can speak in the channel, while moderators are there to keep things flowing. The audience is there to listen, but can indicate that they want to speak if they are allowed to participate.

At this time, stage channels are only available to community servers (find out how to activate them here ). But if you create one, you will be able to organize all kinds of audio-centric events, such as voice sessions, interviews, book clubs, presentations and much more.

Audience members can come out and join at will, without interrupting the speaker, and everything is designed to be seamless.

Discord and PlayStation

Discord isn’t just for PC gamers. Discord has also worked with PlayStation to add the ability to link your PSN account to Discord. This means console gamers can log in to have PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 game activity displayed directly on your Discord user profile. That way, your friends will know what you’re playing at a glance.

This connection also means that Discord users can add their PSN ID to their profile so that other Discord users can simply add you as a PlayStation friend and play with you.

To add your PSN to Discord just follow these steps . Open Discord and go to settings, then connections, from there you will see the PSN option. Click on it and you will have to log in to your PSN account and then you can choose whether to show it on your profile or not.

Discord voice chat on Xbox

Microsoft has announced that Discord voice chat is coming to Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles. It’s only for Xbox Insiders at the moment, but it will be extended in the future.

We’ve written a guide on how to get started with voice chat on Xbox here , but you’ll need to connect a link between your Discord and Xbox accounts for it to work and use the Xbox app as well.

With this connection you will be able to chat with your friends when you are on your Xbox, regardless of the platform they are on.

Discord and creators

One of the great uses of Discord is for creators. Content creators, Twitch streamers, influencers, and others use Discord to build communities using Discord. It’s perfect for sharing content, engaging with an audience, keeping people up to date with what’s happening, and more.

Discord is working to improve this in the future with things like Premium Memberships . This is a system where creators will be able to create paid memberships, with levels, to offer specific benefits to their most valuable fans. The plan is to strengthen communities and help creators offer even more.

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