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A Beginner's Guide to Facebook Basics

Updated on April 29, 2016

Are you thinking of joining Facebook? Or are you new to Facebook and are now staring at Facebook's homepage thinking: What the hell to I do now? Then this article is just what you need to learn the basics of Facebook. You'll be connecting with your friends in no time.

The first thing you'll probably want to do is upload a profile picture. You can do that easily by clicking on the link that appears when you hover your mouse over the space for your profile pic. Once you've done that, you are ready to tackle Facebook.

Facebook
Facebook

THE MENU BAR

The menu bar is located at the top of every page. It contains four items on the left side: Home, Profile, Friends, and Inbox. Let's run through each of these briefly.

By default, Facebook takes you to your Home page when you log in so that's probably where you are right now. It's where you will find your friends' activities, that is if you have friends already. Your Profile page is where you will find all your stuff on Facebook. It's also where you will find your "wall", which is a Facebook term that you're going to be hearing a lot of from now on. Your Friends page is, of course, where you will find a list of your friends and where you can search for other people who you would like to be your friend. Your Inbox, well, I don't think I need to tell you that it contains mail that you receive or send to friends.

Now that you know that you can navigate between these pages using the menu bar, let's discuss each page in detail.

Your Home Page

Your home page has five major components: News Feed, Filters, Requests, Suggestions, and Highlights. (See figure below.)

Facebook Home Page Layout
Facebook Home Page Layout
  • News Feed. Here you will see all your friends' activities on Facebook. Wall posts, uploaded photos or videos, posted links, etc. If you want to know what your friends have been up to, this is the place to go.
  • Filters. You can create filters so you can manage how you see your friends activity on your homepage. You can do that once you already have many Facebook friends.
  • Requests. Any request or invitation that you receive, such as friend requests and application invitations, will appear here. (More on Facebook applications later.) Clicking on an invitation gives you the option to Accept, Ignore, or Block.
  • Suggestions. Facebook suggests friends, groups or pages that it thinks you may know or be interested in. It will appear in this space.
  • Highlights. This area shows things like pictures your friends have commented on, videos they have liked, etc.  It also contains links that enable you to "join in the fun" your friends are having.


Your Profile Page

Your profile page is your own "personal space" on facebook.  It is where your friends will find your profile picture or avatar, your friends list, applications widgets, and your tabs.  By default, there are two tabs when you sign in: Wall and Info.  Later when you start uploading photos or videos, corresponding tabs will appear next to the Wall and Info tabs.  (See figure below.)

Facebook Profile Page Layout
Facebook Profile Page Layout
  • Wall. The wall is your main "space" on Facebook. Just like on a real wall, you and your friends (if you choose to let them do so) can "write" on this wall by using the What's on your mind? box right below the tabs.
  • Info. The basic information you typed in when you signed up for Facebook can be found in your Info tab. You can add or remove data at any time.
  • Other Tabs. Additional tabs such as Photos, Videos, Boxes, Notes, etc. may appear once you have used these internal applications. Once you've uploaded a profile picture, for example, the Photos tab will already be visible.


Just type in what you want to write on your wall and hit the Share button.
Just type in what you want to write on your wall and hit the Share button.
Clicking on the What's on your mind? box reveals the buttons for posting a link, photo, video, etc. on your wall or someone else's wall.
Clicking on the What's on your mind? box reveals the buttons for posting a link, photo, video, etc. on your wall or someone else's wall.

Your Friends Page

Clicking on Friends in the menu bar takes you to a page where you can find your other friends who might also be on Facebook. You can choose to find people through your email address or simply use the Search for People option also in the Friends page.  Once you already have some friends, you can see all of them by clicking on All Friends in the filter located at the upper left corner of the page.

Your Inbox

You can have a "conversation" with one of your friends by sending them mail. I say "have a conversation" because your replies are appended to the original message and you can see the full history of the conversation in a single thread.

A circle with a number on it beside the word "Inbox" on your menu bar indicates that you have new mail, the number in the circle corresponding to the number of new messages you got.

Chat

You can also talk to your friends through the Chat feature in Facebook. You'll see the button for it on the lower right corner of the page. Clicking on it brings up a menu with friends who are available for chatting. So what's the difference between the inbox and chat? Chat conversations are lost once you sign out of Facebook, mail in your inbox stays there until you manually delete it.

I should also mention that you can turn off chat if you don't feel like it. Just click on Chat > Options > Go Offline. Going offline doesn't sign you out of Facebook, it just makes you unavailable for chatting.

Applications

Basically, there are two types of applications or apps for short: those that were created by Facebook and those made by third-party developers. The internal Facebook applications include Notes, Photos, Links, and Video. Third-party applications include games, quizzes, etc. I've talked about my favorite third-party Facebook apps .

Where do you find Facebook apps?  Click on Applications on the lower left corner of the page and select Browse More Applications.

Bookmarks

Right beside the Applications button I mentioned above are your bookmarks.  By default, you should see icons for Photos, Links, and Notes along with some others.  Hovering your mouse on them shows a description of each icon.

You use bookmarks as shortcuts to where you want to go.  I should mention though that clicking on the bookmarks will bring you to a recent activities page.  For example, if you click on the icon for Photos, it doesn't bring you to your photo albums, it shows you the recent photo albums of your friends.  From there you can go to your photo album by clicking on the My Photos link at the top of the page.  The same applies for the other bookmarks. 

Notifications

See that small icon that looks like a signboard? That's where all notifications can be found. Facebook notifies you if your friends post something on your wall, comment on your uploaded photos, etc. When you see a red bubble with a number on it, it means there's been some new development. So aside from watching your inbox, you'll also want to keep an eye on those notifications for friend updates.

Settings

Hovering your mouse on the Settings button on the upper right side of the page, you'll see three options: Account Settings, Privacy Settings, Application Settings.

You can change your real name, email address, password, etc. through Account Settings. Privacy Settings allows you to create different levels of privacy. For example, you can set certain information to be viewable by selected friends only. Application Settings allow you to control how applications behave. Just have fun and experiment with these options.

Account Settings page
Account Settings page
Privacy Settings page
Privacy Settings page

A Word of Caution

Once you begin connecting with friends and doing applications, Facebook can be quite addictive. Watch out for the signs and symptoms of Facebook addiction as shown in this short, funny video:

*Sorry, video has been removed from YouTube.

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    • benqie profile image

      Bangbang Nurdiansyah 2 months ago from Bandung Indonesia

      This is the information I am looking for and here I find it thank you for sharing

    • jugglejack profile image

      Juggle Jack 2 months ago from Indonesia

      nice guide

      but I think it was changing already

    • profile image

      Dau santos 3 months ago

      Hey, this is Dau Santos looking for assistance, my facebook account is hijack by some, you advice is needed and help too.

    • majid786 profile image

      Majid Nawaz 10 months ago from Pakistan

      nice info..

    • profile image

      docksonpaul 15 months ago

      How we can use Facebook as a marketing platform to generate leads & convert target prospect into customer?

    • profile image

      gepeTooRs 17 months ago

      I will right away seize your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me understand so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    • profile image

      karen 2 years ago

      how can you deletes posts off facebook

    • profile image

      Shay Phelan 3 years ago

      I have avoided using facebook until now so your intro was necessary and helpful. Thanks a mil! Shaybo

    • profile image

      Para 3 years ago

      Thanx........

    • cosimple profile image

      Harshit Sharma 3 years ago from Delhi

      I found it the best to know more about Facebook.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      When you sign up for Facebook, you create an individual account. Once you have an account, you can start posting. Whatever you post - status updates, photos, links, shares, etc - appears on your timeline. It shows your activity history. If you are a public figure or have a business, you can opt to create a fan page account instead, which people can "like". Pages are marketing tools.

    • profile image

      Robert 4 years ago

      What is the difference between a Timeline (which I am told no one looks at), an account (who sees this?) and a fan page? it's chaos and none of this is explained. What does a person sign up for and use?

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Caroline andrews, maybe you're just Following your friend and not Friends with him on facebook? That happens when a person has already reached the friend limit when you friend request him.

    • profile image

      Caroline andrews 4 years ago

      It was helpful, but i just can't reply comments made or even write post on my friend's wall. Can you help?

    • profile image

      rishabh.infoshine@gmail.com 4 years ago

      Hi

      I asked one question how can PINNED POST in FB

    • profile image

      Munir Khairy 4 years ago

      Hey,

      I lost home menu the facebook bar, it disappeared. What should I do? to get it back.

      Regards,

      Munir.

    • profile image

      bop 4 years ago

      think i will join, worth a try

    • profile image

      Michael Nix 4 years ago

      Enjoyed reading the basics about facebook and I think I'm interested in finding out much more before commiting myself.

    • profile image

      aaliyah 5 years ago

      ya its really awesome to be on facebook i have just join the facebook last night enjoying!!!

    • ShaamCA profile image

      ShaamCA 5 years ago from India

      you are right Susan ..i have been using Facebook for past few years its really amazing :)

    • profile image

      Sara 5 years ago

      Hi Susan,

      Here are some videos on a beginner's guide to using Facebook Pages, something your readers might be interested in. http://www.youtube.com/shortstackuniversity.

      Thanks!

      Sara

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You're welcome, January Jane. :)

    • profile image

      January Jane 5 years ago

      Hi Susan, thank you for taking the time for all you help!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thank you, louromano and Zohaib. :)

      yogini, I've often asked myself that very same question. Poke is one of those useless features of facebook in my opinion. ;P About going offline, in my experience when I opt to appear offline to a contact, I stay offline until I manually select to appear online again. :)

    • profile image

      yogini 5 years ago

      what does poke means on facebook

      and for how much time does a going to offline for a contact works

    • profile image

      Zohaib khan 5 years ago

      vry nice

    • louromano profile image

      louromano 5 years ago

      Hey a very informative Hub here. I appreciate this effort from you. The Facebook is not so simple social community like other. It has so many things and a newbie is sure to get confused. This is a good guide for a newcomer to begin with! Good job!

    • profile image

      Rajesh 5 years ago

      i can operate the menu button with mouse

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Not unless you leave comments, Like or Share, creston. :)

    • profile image

      creston 5 years ago

      When you open and read someone's wall, do they know you have done so?

      Better yet, do facebook users know if you open their page and look at their photos ect,?

    • profile image

      Idiot 5 years ago

      I am having a terrible time. People are courteous and try to explain things to me, but then when I try to put that information (such as tagging and sharing) into practice, I have more questions and do not want to keep bothering them. Even the turtorials

    • profile image

      choli6 5 years ago

      thanks for the tips susan! ;)

    • profile image

      perkolaytor 5 years ago

      About a month or so ago I noticed my wall photo was no longer visible when I logged into facebook. Also, the wall photos for my friends (listed on the left or when clicked) are no long visible. I thought it was due to facebook maintenance, but the pictures still are not visible. Do I need to change something in my settings and if so, could someone step me through the process. Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Gerrit Kruijer 5 years ago

      Great for starters like me. Thank you.

    • profile image

      B King 5 years ago

      If I delete my facebook messages on my phone will I be able to see them on a computer or another phone?

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Which graphics can't you see, John N?

    • profile image

      John N 5 years ago

      I can't read the graphics??

    • profile image

      ds mor 5 years ago

      very informative and helpful

    • profile image

      Christine 5 years ago

      This is very helpful and clear. I used to have a place on my page that said "Invite Friends" but it has now disappeared. How can I get it back? Thanks

    • profile image

      Tariq Sakbar 5 years ago

      Very good information for learning point of view

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      If you can't see your friends' phone numbers on their info page in Facebook, then they probably didn't disclose it or their privacy settings prevent you from seeing it. :)

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      I cann't seem to figure out how to find my friends phone #s on facebook. Can you help?

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, everyone. Emmy, you can sign up for Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ :)

    • profile image

      Emmy David 5 years ago

      please i want to joint facebook, And how can i joint it.

    • profile image

      shamshuddin 5 years ago

      its good

    • profile image

      AG 5 years ago

      THE GREST HELP TO FACEBOOK USER

    • profile image

      sophia 6 years ago

      Great info thx!!!!!My fb looks great im up to 294 friendz lol.

    • profile image

      wasim afzal 6 years ago

      As a Facebook user for more than 8 years I can digg this hub - though facebook is always changing the way it works, constantly making it better, have been trying to get a grip on making a good facebook page for businesses and such.

    • profile image

      Logo Design 6 years ago

      Nice!!! It's really very informative article, I really appreciate your thoughts.I obviously enjoying and I also bookmarked & i will visit again in future updates.

      Logo Design

    • profile image

      srnjit 6 years ago

      nice

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yes, Danton. As far as I know, you can put anything on your wall as long as it's legal. You can sell stuff, show your jewelry collection and put links to your site. :)

      Thanks, loveonline. You're right, Facebook is always changing.

    • loveonline profile image

      loveonline 6 years ago

      As a Facebook user for more than 8 years I can digg this hub - though facebook is always changing the way it works, constantly making it better, have been trying to get a grip on making a good facebook page for businesses and such.

    • profile image

      Danton527 6 years ago

      Hi perhaps 2 days ago I posted a question--re: on my wall, and exactly what can I do with it.....i.e. can I direcly sell --or put a link in to my site. Can i show my new Jewelry collection. Hope U can provide an answer ...thanks Danton

    • felicitylovespari profile image

      felicitylovespari 6 years ago

      I'm pretty good with FaceBook, but this is a pretty good for beginning users.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, bib. :)

    • profile image

      bib 6 years ago

      Thanks for a really lovely weblog. I discovered on this site knowledge designed in the perfect method. I will certainly suggest the webpage around the world and then also to each and every my buddies.

      http://www.mamanetbebechic.fr

    • profile image

      facebook proxy 6 years ago

      if you can not acces to facebook use there Facebook login page.

    • profile image

      Joan 6 years ago

      Quite helpful

    • profile image

      facebook themes 6 years ago

      Thanks for your post. This useful for facebook users as well as just join members.

    • profile image

      ahmed 6 years ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Jonathan 6 years ago

      somebody help me pls, When i open my messages. howcome i can't see the conversation button?

    • profile image

      eshita 6 years ago

      your facebook is very good but i am not able to make my account where you post confirmation email will you helppp me plzzzzzzzz

    • profile image

      MAYANK SHARMA 6 years ago

      I CANNOT LEARN FACEBOOK

    • myi4u profile image

      myi4u 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      great hub! I always find it difficult to keep up with the changes in Facebook as I am only using like 30% of the functionalities. It might be a good start by following the things that you mentioned in this hub.

    • profile image

      fblogin 6 years ago

      Thanks lot 4 Your Post

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks Prakash Sethia. But I'm sorry I don't know how to merge accounts on facebook, if that is even possible. :O

    • Prakash Sethia profile image

      Prakash Sethia 6 years ago

      I have two accounts on facebook, whiche were created by mistake. Can you please guide me how can I merge them?

    • Prakash Sethia profile image

      Prakash Sethia 6 years ago

      A very good article I have read after a long period. I appreciate the time & effort you have put in to create this hub.

      MINDBLOWING...................!

    • profile image

      Nicole Smith 6 years ago

      I think Rebekah Diaspora Smith hacked my account, and is posting the link to my login page on her friends' pages. I've never had my account hacked before, and don't know what to do besides change my password. Although I'm not sure what good it will do.

    • profile image

      naveen srikantaiah 6 years ago

      You create a group naming their country and profession which will help you to track them very easily.

    • PeggyW profile image

      PeggyW 6 years ago

      that post is good

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi, bwl8585. You can hide posts from your news feed by clicking on "Edit Options" at the bottom of all the posts. Add Nordstrom Weddings and Big Love to the "Hide posts from" section. Hope that helps. :)

    • profile image

      bwl8585 6 years ago

      Last week I phoned Nordstrom Department store to make an appointment with a personal shopper as we are searching for bridesmaids dresses. Now "Nordstrom Weddings" is on my FB page. I also get posts from "Big Love". I've never signed up for any of those posts so have no idea how to get rid of them. Is there a way? Thanks for the help for a novice user!

    • profile image

      Layouts for facebook 6 years ago

      thanks!

    • sunnymarie profile image

      sunnymarie 6 years ago

      Very good information! Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      Web Development 6 years ago

      Thanks for this helps for those who are still a bit behind on the facebook thing

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      A "box" was a tab you could add to your profile page but I think it's gone now. It was like a bulletin board of sorts where your latest links, photos, videos, applications, etc. showed up so your friends could find them faster.

    • profile image

      unknown 6 years ago

      i hav absolutley no clue what a " box " is on facebook, can sm1 please tell me?

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Haha! Thanks, Sun Pen 50. :)

    • Sun Pen 50 profile image

      Sun Pen 50 6 years ago from Srilanka

      I am electing you as my Facebook consultant. Thank you following you.

    • profile image

      Website Development 6 years ago

      Nice one for the older generation who hasn't quite gotten into facebook yet.

    • profile image

      alex 6 years ago

      I'm not trying to advertise here, but visit http://tipsandtricksworld.com for useful facebook tricks and tips and also other general tips and tricks. thanks!

    • profile image

      facebook7464 6 years ago

      Facebook is one the best social networking site.It is a user friendly site and also gives access to the new facebook layouts,which make it more tempting and attractive.

      http://www.facebooklayouts.org

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      This is really a comprehensive guide. New Face-book users should read your hub first to understand how Facebook works.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      The best part of facebook is looking up friends from high school and having a "reunion" without going anywhere and letting them see how much weight I've gained. sheesh

    • okmom23 profile image

      Donna Oliver 6 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

      Excellent resource! Thank you for sharing, great hub!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You're right, KenWu. Facebook has undergone a lot of facelifts since I wrote this article, but the basic principles remain the same. :)

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

      Although facebook has changed so much lately but this is really a comprehensive guide :)

    • NBAY_COM profile image

      NBAY_COM 7 years ago from www.NBAY.COM

      Hey great tips and very usefull information. I used to really like myspace but once I got the hang of facebook.com I like almost as much except when it comes to promoting a business. So, instead of complaining I went and built a new social Network that is both for personal use and also for business profile. Check it out and let me know what you think. It's called www.NBAY.COM

    • Esrom Art profile image

      Esrom Aritonang 7 years ago from Indonesia

      Great info, you make it short and clear. I love it. Keep write wonderful info. Thanks a lot.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, FindYourSearch. It took a while to make the illustrations and screenshots, but I knew it would make things easier to picture out. :) And you're welcome cookiesweet99 and Sue. I appreciate your linking to my article. :)

    • profile image

      Sue 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information. Great as it is very easy to understand. Have linked to it on a FB group - Understanding Facebook.

    • profile image

      cookiesweet99 7 years ago

      thx 4 the basics of the site..I'm uite new on it and the only reason i'm on it bcos all my friends are

    • FindYourSearch profile image

      FindYourSearch 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love the diagram style illustrations you used to explain the profile and home pages. Taking the text out makes it instantly clear how the pages are organized. Great work!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, everyone. :)

    • profile image

      shaunt123 7 years ago

      Hi Everyone. I learned facebook through this video series and thought it may be of use to someone.

      http://socialsupercharge.com/snc/

      Ignore the marketing hype, it’s really a simple, easy to follow way to learn how to use facebook. The series takes about an hour and steps you through setting everything up and shows you how to avoid "newbie" mistakes that can be embarrassing. Check it out.

    • D_D_Brown profile image

      Daniel Brown 7 years ago from Evansville

      Thanks for the facebook run down

    • profile image

      Mina 7 years ago

      detailed information

      Excellent Work !

    • profile image

      Ted Thompson 7 years ago

      Great guide, very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi, Anne. :) Can you please provide more details? Where was this picture that you wanted to hide - on your wall? How did you end up "erasing" everyone's images? And which images are you referring to?