Facebook rolls out messages update with new layout, photo sharing, emoticons, keyboard shortcuts and more

Facebook continues to roll out its redesigned messages product it announced in August, including a two-paned layout, improved photo uploads and keyboard shortcuts among other changes. We’ve had a number of readers let us know that they’re now seeing the update.

The desktop design is now more like traditional email, which is interesting because Facebook has made a number of changes to its mobile Messenger to make that product feel more lightweight like text messaging or chat. Because Facebook has a unified inbox system, all messages to and from mobile devices, the desktop web, email, chat and text appear in the same thread. We’ve wondered if this would cause any disconnect in the type of communications between people on different devices — more formal messages from someone on desktop being viewed in the mobile chat bubble format, and vice versa. That said, it makes sense to give users the best experience for whichever form factor they’re accessing messages from.

Even though the two-paned layout and keyboard shortcuts are reminiscent of email, Facebook added a few elements from mobile and chat, including read receipts and emoticons. Previously, users could only see if another user read their message if they were on a mobile device. Emoticons would appear if users knew how to make them with a keyboard, but now the message composer includes a menu of smileyfaces and icons, just as is available from the traditional chat window.

Facebook also improved the photo sharing process, allowing users to quickly upload multiple photos from their computer or select images from their Facebook albums. With the old design, users had to manually upload each photo file and did not have an option to find photos they had already shared on Facebook. The new process is more streamlined, similar to the mobile flow.

Another change is the option to send messages to users you are not friends with. Previously, from the new message dialog, users could type a friends name or an email address. Now, the typeahead in the “to” field populates with friends and “other people you know,” including friends of friends.

Facebook also calls out the option to search messages. Users can search by a sender’s name or keyword at any point. In the previous layout, users could only search for names and keywords from the main inbox. When they opened a message, they could then search within that conversation.

Facebook did not offer a timeline for when all users would have the new messages, and there is no way to opt in to early access since the product is still being tested. Some readers experienced bugs such as not being able to send photos from the new uploader and not being able to immediately send a second message after sending one.

More information about the new messages is available from Help Center.

Top image from Facebook. All others from Ryan Plant. Thanks also to Khai Nguyen and Interactive Swim for the tips.