You may have already seen our beginner’s guide to Discord, which covers the basics of joining and creating servers—places where people can gather to chat about various topics. But did you know you can make voice and video calls through the service, too?
In fact, much of Discord’s appeal lies in how good its calling is. Its birth came about precisely because its founders wanted a better VoIP platform for gamers to use during group play sessions.
But even if you’re not raiding with friends, you can still use Discord to make voice and video calls. (It can be a good workaround for poor cell phone reception, for example.) Hopping in one is quite simple, too, though you will have to do a little setup first.
Step 1: Make some friends
To make a call in Discord, you have to be friends with the person (or people) you want to speak with. You can send a friend request in one of two ways on PC or mobile:
Go into your Home screen by clicking on the Discord logo icon in the upper left of your screen. Click on Friends in the new left navbar that appears, then on the green Add Friend button. You will need to know their Discord tag (e.g., ExampleTag#0000). For more search methods, try the mobile app.
On a Discord server you share with the person, click on their username, then on their user avatar. Hit the green Send friend request button.
At the bottom of the app, tap on the icon of a person waving. Then tap on the icon of a person with a plus sign in the upper right of the screen. You can then add people through one of three methods: entering their Discord tag (e.g., ExampleTag#0000), using Nearby Scan, or the Find Your Friends feature. For the latter two, your friends will also have to participate for them to work.
On a Discord server you share with the person, tap on their user avatar, then on Add Friend.
Step 2: Start a call
Starting a call is pretty simple, especially since there’s no real differentiation between voice and video calls. One method simply starts the call with audio only and the other one with everyone’s video on.
Click on the Discord logo icon at the upper left, then on Friends in the left navbar. The view will default to friends who are online. Click on the icon with three vertical dots and choose Start video call or Start voice call. Alternatively, you can open your direct messages with your friend, then click the phone or video camera icon at the top.
For group calls, you must first create a group chat. The easiest way is to click on the chat icon with a plus sign in the Friends screen. You can also open your direct messages with a friend you want in the group, then click on the icon of a person with a plus sign at the top of the screen. After you’ve started a group chat, click the phone or video camera icon at the top.
At the bottom of your screen, swipe right on your screen, then tap the icon of a person waving. Your friends list will appear. Tap the phone icon next to your friend’s name to start an audio call. (You can enable video once the call starts.)
For group calls, you have to create a group chat first. To do so, swipe right on your screen, then tap on the icon of a person waving. At the top of the screen, tap the icon of a chat icon with a plus sign. You can also start a group chat from your Direct Messages screen or in your direct messages with a person you want in your group. Once the group chat is open, tap the phone or video camera icon at the top.
Things you should know about Discord calls
Discord calls are very good—the PCWorld staff uses them regularly during our off-hours. But you should always go into a service knowing the important details, so we’ve compiled several things to get you fully up to speed.
Discord does not offer end-to-end encryption for voice and video calls. For that level of security, you’ll need to stick with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, or the like.
Discord calls have no time restrictions, so you can be on them for as long as you like. However, you can’t sit in a call by yourself indefinitely until other people join; the system will boot you after a short period.
You can share your screen or stream a game to call participants at 720p/30fps by default. For higher resolutions and 60fps, you’ll need to a Discord Nitro subscription.
Like other popular VoIP calling apps, video backgrounds are available for calls, but standard Discord users only get eight presets and a blur option. For custom backgrounds, you need to subscribe to Nitro.
If your friends can’t hear you speaking, verify that your input and output devices are set correctly. Discord can change these randomly. Also make sure that you don’t have push-to-talk on—or if you purposely do, that your keybind is correct.
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Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.