How to Use Discord: A Beginner’s Guide (2024)

On the desktop, there’s an indicator down in the lower left corner—just above your username—that says Voice Connected. It means what you think it does. On mobile, there will be a persistent green band at the top of your screen letting you know your audio is connected. To disconnect from the channel, tap Voice Connected and hit the end call button.

If the server allows it, you can also toggle on your camera for a video chat. The active video screens will pop up in the main panel.

How do I make sure I don’t embarrass myself?

Check your privacy settings. Discord enables a lot of data collection at the start. If you want to tamp down on what everyone can find out about you, take a look at what’s exposed by your privacy settings. Tap or click the little gear icon by your username (User Settings). Go into User Settings, then Privacy & Safety. There, you can tell Discord to filter NSFW messages and servers, decide whether to let strangers message you, and control the types of activity data you send back to Discord.

Discord will also display some of your activity by default. If you’re playing a game on your computer, for example, Discord automatically shows what you’re playing to everyone who can see your status. That means all your friends, and anyone in a public server. To control that visibility, tap your profile pic. You’ll be able to choose a status there, either Online, Idle, Do Not Disturb, or Invisible. If you want to appear offline and hide your activity, select Invisible. As an extra precaution, you can go into your User Settings, then go down to Activity Settings. Uncheck “Display current activity as a status message.” That will keep your activity out of your status even if you’re set to Online.

Know your etiquette. Some servers may ask you to read the rules before you can start posting. Do that! Every group has different policies. If you’re starting your own server, you can make whatever rules you want. But if you’re joining an existing group you’ll want to take some time to figure out what flies and what doesn’t.

That’s great, I’m basically a hip Gen Zer now. How do I find stuff?

Down at the bottom of the servers panel is an icon that looks like a compass called Explore Public Servers. Open that up and you’ll find some of the top servers across Discord. The big categories are Gaming, Music, Education, Science and Tech, and Entertainment. If you’re in school, Student Hubs can help you find groups and clubs with your classmates.

There are a ton of communities on Discord, some massive and some tiny. The more obscure ones may require invites from people already in the server. Some Substacks, Patreon creators, or Kickstarter campaigns offer access to private Discord servers as rewards for paying backers.

Am I gonna get a bunch of spam on here?

Like just about anywhere online, Discord has its share of spam. Sometimes accounts post fake links in channels, or pop into your DMs to try to entice you to download something or click on a link that slaps you with malware. Basic online security practices should be applied here too. Don’t open anything if you don’t know the person sending it to you.

I have all this money, can I do anything with it?

The core Discord experience is free, but if you want more room for creative expression, there’s a paid subscription tier called Nitro. Nitro lets you upload files with larger sizes, set up multiple profiles, and have profile banners and animated profile pics. Nitro also gives you access to custom stickers, a cross between a gif and an emoji that you can use to express specific emotions or react to something outrageous in text chats. Nitro is $10 per month, or $100 a year. For a slimmer selection of premium goodies, Nitro Basic costs less than half that.

If you’re feeling generous, you can also pay to “boost” a server, which gives the community some benefits that everyone can use. This can mean more emoji, higher audio and video streaming quality, and the ability to upload bigger files. The more users that boost, the more premiums unlock for the entire community.

I just want to make my own server!

Whether you want to make a cozy space to stay in touch with a few friends and family members or a massive hub for all the Nintendogs fans that you know are still out there, the creation process is pretty much the same.

Tap or click the + symbol on the bottom of the servers panel. Options will pop up to let you start a server from scratch, or build it from a template. You can make a server geared toward gaming groups, study buddies, community activities, or artists. Name it something cool, and add a pretty picture to serve as your server icon—the thing everyone will see in that leftward servers panel.

How to Use Discord: A Beginner’s Guide (2024)


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