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How to use Houseparty: All the basics, plus tips, tricks and etiquette

The Houseparty app has suddenly become hugely popular, dominating the download charts on both Google Play and the App Store. The free-to-download app lets you chat and play games with friends, but despite its popularity it isn’t super-easy to navigate.

So we’ve put together a guide for beginners. Already mastered the basics? Skip ahead to see our tips and tricks for seasoned Houseparty guests…

Is Houseparty free?

Houseparty is indeed free to use. You can think of it as a cross between Snapchat and WhatsApp.

How to download Houseparty

You’ll first need to download the Houseparty app, which is available from both the App Store and Google Play.

Before you can kick things off, you’ll also need to sign up with your email, phone number and a new username.

It’s useful to create a unique username that’s easy to remember – this is probably how your friends will track you down, so calling yourself ‘Robert7729’ might not be the wisest move.

Can you get Houseparty on a computer?

You can use Houseparty on your computer either by installing the Chrome Extension, or downloading the Houseparty desktop app for Mac or Windows.

Related: How to delete a Houseparty account

How to add friends on Houseparty

The app will prompt you to grant access to your contacts book as part of the setup process, and doing this will pull up a list of your pals who already have the app installed. Click ‘add’ to put them in your address book, or hit ‘invite’ if a friend hasn’t got the app yet.

If you can’t see one of your friends listed in the contacts section, ask them for their username and add them manually. To do this, hit the little face in the top left side of the screen, navigate to Add Friends, then click Add by Name.

You’ll also see your own username listed here, which is useful if you forget your own details.

How to start a Houseparty

Ready to go? There are a couple of ways to get the party started. First though, you’ll want to head to the home screen.

When you launch the Houseparty app, you’ll probably get a brief glimpse of your own face before a menu pops up listing recently-called friends and active party sessions. You can dive into one of these if you want to join some pals who have already started their own party.

But if you want to curate your own party, the most logical thing to do is to get rid of that menu and set up your own room. Swipe down on the popup menu to see the proper home screen.

From here, you should see a little plus sign in the top right corner. Hit that and you’ll be shown a full list of all your available contacts. Tap the ones that you want to party with, then click the green ‘invite to room’ button.

You can also kick the party off with a game. From the home screen, hit the dice image in the top right, choose your game and then click that plus button in the top-right again to invite players into the room.

When you’re in a live Houseparty session, your other contacts who log on will see this and can immediately join in with the chat.

How to play games on Houseparty

Once everyone’s in a video chat, you can find the games by hitting the top-right dice icon. The games are all straightforward, so we recommend diving in straight away rather than worrying about rules.

What’s not so easy to figure out is how to stop a game once you’ve started. Games will automatically close after you’ve finished a round, but sometimes you might decide to quit early. The only way to do this is if everyone in the room agrees to stop, so everyone will need to hit the little X that appears in the top-right corner of the game screen.

Don’t hit the X in the bottom right though, as that will kick you out the room.

Related: How to use Google Meet for free

How to lock your Houseparty room

It’s super-easy to lock your room once you’re in a party, just hit the padlock at the bottom of the screen. People can still ask to join, but you can choose to ignore them.

If you want your rooms to lock automatically, head to your home screen, click the smiley face in the left and then hit the cog to go to the settings page. From here, turn on privacy mode, and you’ll never be in an open party again.

How to turn off Houseparty notifications

Once you’ve downloaded the app and built up your contacts, you might find that you get ‘X is in the house’ notifications every few minutes. Similarly, every time you log onto the app, your mates will get a little message letting them know that you’re around.

You can actually ‘sneak’ into the house by clicking directly on one of those notifications, which just means that you can load up Houseparty without anyone knowing.

But there’s a more permanent solution for this problem. Simply head back to the home screen, hit that top-left smiley face again then click on manage notifications. From here, you can choose to stop sending and receiving all those pesky alerts.

Related: Best smartphones

How to change your name on Houseparty

Want to make it easy for your pals to find you? The best way to do this it probably to bang a picture and a nickname on your profile. This is visible to everyone on the app though, so make sure it’s something you’re happy to share.

To add a pic or change your display name head to the settings page, which you can find by clicking on the top-left smiley face again and then hitting the little pink cog.

Is Houseparty a safe app?

That’s the question on many people’s lips at the moment. In late March, some users claimed that after downloading Houseparty, hackers managed to break into their Spotify and Netflix accounts. Houseparty has strongly denied any connection.

“All Houseparty accounts are safe − the service is secure, has never been compromised, and doesn’t collect passwords for other sites,” the company has said, and has gone as far as calling the whole affair “a paid commercial smear campaign”.

Houseparty troubleshooting tips

Occasionally, you might find that one friend can’t see the game on their screen. Frustratingly there doesn’t seem to be a solid fix for this, but the quickest way that we’ve found to solve the problem is for that friend to leave and rejoin the chat. It might mean that they miss a chunk of a quiz (skip the Netflix one, trust me), but as each round only lasts a few minutes you’ll soon be back in the mix with the next load of questions.

Alternately, you can try and completely restart the Houseparty session, but make sure everyone is included on the initial room invite.

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