9 Facebook Tricks That Will Change How You Use The Social Network

Remember when Facebook was just a place you'd go to post a silly message on a friend's wall or to Poke someone? While you can still do both (yes, Pokes still exist), the app has evolved and become so much more.

It's where we get our news (for better or worse), where we go to discover viral videos (here's looking at you, Chewbacca Mom), and where we see our friends' obnoxious life updates. But did you know that you can also use Facebook to send special birthday videos and find dinner recipes?

Then there's Facebook's Messenger app. In addition to its more obvious features — sending messages and videos to groups of friends — the app has been home to secret, addictive soccer and basketball games. And today, Messenger upped its gameplay with a brand-new games section, where you can play games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders against friends.

Click through to see these and more hidden Facebook and Messenger tools that will forever change how you use the social network. Just don't blame us if your productivity at work suffers from too many rounds of Brick Pop.

This piece originally ran June 21, 2016.

Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
Play 17+ Addictive Games

Open a new message within Messenger and you'll see a new "Game Controller" tab along the bottom of the screen. Click that, and you can choose from popular games including Words With Friends: Frenzy, Everwing, and Endless Lake, to play against friends. The best part: Your friends don't have to be online at the same time for you to be able to play. Your score will be recorded and saved, so they can size up the competition when they do go online later.
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Create A Personalized Birthday Video

Why just post "happy birthday" on a friend's wall when you can record a video for them? Facebook's birthday video cam lets you choose from among six fun, birthday-themed background filters and record a special 15-second video. Just go to a friend's Facebook page on their birthday, and go to write a post like you normally would. You'll see a blue bar pop up that says, "Record a birthday video." Press that, and go crazy.
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Play Chess

Introduce some competitive fun to your messages by breaking out the chess board. Type @fbchess in a thread on Messenger, and a chess board will show up on screen, designating who is black and who is white. It's not as lifelike as a Harry Potter game of Wizard's Chess, but it'll do.
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Save Articles For Later

Unless you're scrolling through Facebook on the sofa, you probably don't have time to read all the articles that your friends have posted. That's where its handy bookmarking feature comes in. Click the downward arrow next to a post and tap, "Save link." You can read your saved links later by going to the "Saved" tab on your "Favorites" bar (in the app, you can access the "Saved" tab by first tapping the "More" button in the bottom right).
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Shoot Hoops

Warning: This is insanely addictive. If you send a basketball emoji to a friend in Messenger, click on the basketball. You have now entered your own game (free throws only) of hoops. The score goes back to zero each time you miss, but you get a limitless number of tries. So you could actually play forever, and ever, and ever…
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Pay For Drinks

Once you've entered your debit card (go to your phone's Settings and then Facebook to do so), you can send payments and request money from friends through Messenger. There isn't much that differentiates payments within Messenger from those on Venmo, but if you made drink plans on Messenger, it can be an easy way to keep the conversation (and its ensuing tab) in one place.
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
Control Newsfeed Ads

Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature that allows you to decide which ads you want (or don't want) to show up on your newsfeed. This way, you can see ads for categories that interest you, such as fashion or fitness, and keep your partner from seeing ads for the engagement rings you were scoping out. (Or, for those of us who sometimes google odd products for work… Those won't follow you around on Facebook, either.)

You can set your ad preferences by going here.
Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
Find Dinner Recipes

The latest updates to Facebook Search made it easier to find many things, but recipe searching especially got a boost. Search for a meal, or specify by category (smoothies, for example), and you'll see relevant recent posts from friends, as well as popular articles and top posts from restaurants and media.
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
Score A Goal

Facebook Messenger's basketball game was so successful that it launched a similar soccer version that is much harder. To play, make sure you've uploaded the latest version of Messenger. Then, let the games begin: Send a soccer emoji to a friend, press it, and try to keep the ball in the air as long as possible.