A guide to setting up and using Discord communication software

Discord is free communication software. You can use it in your browser or install it on your pc and mobile devices.

Discord Logo
Discord Logo

If you haven’t already download and install Discord, using it in browser is a bit of a fuss.

Start it up and click on friends in the top left.

Discord - home layout
Discord – home layout

You’ll see something like the above picture. I’ve blanked out names with white for privacy.

In the middle is the friends list, highlighted below:

Discord - friends list
Discord – friends list

This will show all friends. Any not online will show with a grey dot next to their avatar instead of the green. I have my list showing only the ‘online’ ones by clicking the ‘online’ tab at the top.

The vertical ellipses to the right of the user allow you to call, message or delete that friend.

Adding a friend in Discord

Click the green ‘Add Friend’ button in the top right of the friends section.

This will prompt you to enter their username and their ID e.g. UserName#9999 – note that capitals must be accurate and no spaces between name and hash symbol.

Discord - user name, ID, options
Discord – user name, ID, options

Your user information

Your username, ID and avatar are shown at the bottom left (highlighted above). Also, mute and deafen buttons allow you to quickly control sound to and from you.

User options

The cog symbol is for your settings. You can change your avatar here.

Of this comprehensive list the ‘Voice and Video’ tab is a very important one and worth exploring to set up your communications settings. There is a ‘Reset voice settings’ button on the bottom if your adjustments make things worse…

The rest you can explore at your leisure.

Sending Messages

 Discord - direct messages
Discord – direct messages

Any personal message threads are shown to the left of the home page. The ‘+’ symbol allows you to start another message thread with someone on your friends list.

You can remove names from this list with the ‘x’ next to their name. This will not delete the messages.

You can also right click on a friend for some handy functions.

What other folks are up to

Discord - active now list
Discord – active now list

The active now section (shown above) not only shows who’s online but also what they’re playing, including music.

Adding a Discord server

Discord - server list and options
Discord – server list

Your available servers are shown to the left. Ones you’ve made will look the same as others you’ve joined. Just click on the server circle to join.

You can add a server by clicking the green ‘+’ icon near the bottom.

The search button allows you to look for servers. Excellent if you want to find a server of a game you like.

discord server page layout
Discord server interface

If you click on a server icon you will go to that server page.

As you can see above the server page is slightly different from the home page.

The centre section is the messages from the text channel you are in.

Text and voice channels

You can see in the red area the channels this server has.

As a default the server has a ‘#general’ text channel. You can add more with the ‘+’ icon next to ‘TEXT CHANNELS’ or ‘VOICE CHANNELS’.

This is great if the server you’re in has people playing on different games so they can jump into their own chat channel specific to that game.

Click on a voice channel to join it. Click on the phone with a cross icon – highlighted in yellow, bottom left- to disconnect from voice chat.

Server member list

Highlighted in green is the member list showing who’s online or offline. It will also show any roles they have been assigned – good for creating sub groups in big servers.

Add people to your server

To add people to the server click on the server name in the top left, next to the Discord logo home button. This shows lots of options, including ‘invite people’.

You’ll get the following window pop-up with your friends listed (blanked out for my privacy):

Discord add people to server window

The easiest way to add folks to the server is when they are already friends and clicking on those invite buttons. So, add someone as a friend first then invite them to the server.


Discord is very good at adding information when you hover over an entity.

There’s also the help button that is a question mark, top right.

Keeping your child safe on Discord

Last but not least, a note on safety.

Early years kids, 6 to 11, keep to closed groups of their friends. Depending on your child you may want to extend this.

It’s fine for them to have their own account but also have one yourself. Get to know Discord so that you are the first port of call for your child if they have problems.

Start servers for your child and their friends. You will then be in charge of that server.

Don’t let your kids join public servers until you are sure they are ready i.e. are old enough and wise enough to field random people contacting them. Once they join a public server people can invite them to their servers and private chats.