Discord 101: How to set up the chat app so you can live your best isolation life

Mar 23 2020, 11:04 pm

Highlighted in a previous article, Discord is a service that has mainly been used by gamers since its release in 2015 but has resources that can be harnessed to bring together large groups of people on one online platform.

With physical distancing becoming increasingly important in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s how you can set up Discord to connect with your loved ones remotely.

Terms to know

Server: A server is a dedicated virtual room for you and anyone you invite. It can be public or private and has a ton of¬† moderation features that we’ll go over in this article.

Channels: A channel is a dedicated space for text or voice. You can have multiple channels in a server, and you can adjust the permissions as needed to ensure a happy experience for everyone involved.

Calls: Calls are private voice calls between you and a friend, but you can add people to a private message thread to have a group chat, group voice call, or group video call. The group video/screensharing options are limited to 10 people total, which isn’t an issue unless you have a huge family or are trying to run a show on a server.

Discord has an extensive catalog of help articles that can answer more specific questions, but this easy guide will get you up and running in no time.

Getting Discord

That’s easy! You can download the desktop app, which is available on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux, or you can launch it from your web browser. Follow the installation instructions on your device and you’re in.

Discord Home page (Discord)

Make a free account with your email address and sign into Discord.

Let’s make a new account for a stand-in: “Emily.”

Setting up a server

Once you have signed in, your home page will look like this:

User homepage (Discord)

Down in the left-hand corner of the screen, you can see your name and profile icon. Underneath your name will be a four-digit code. Your name and code are needed for friends to add you, so make a note of that.

Let’s make a server!

Go to the right hand side of your homepage and click the green plus sign, which brings this message up:

Create a server (Discord)

Click the option on the left, which will create a brand new server for you and your friends. Think up a name for your server. Feel free to get creative, unlike Emily:

Name the server (Discord)

Hit create and you have yourself a server that looks like this:

Server welcome (Discord)

You’ll notice that Discord has suggestions to invite friends, customize your server, and connect Discord to your phone and game console. Feel free to investigate those links, and be sure to follow the floating hints provided on how to maximize your server. Setting up channels will help with that, so let’s set up a text channel and a video channel for Emily.


A general text and general voice channel is automatically generated when you create a new server. Everyone on the server automatically joins the general text channel.

To join the voice channel, click the little speaker icon beside General under the voice channel and your microphone will be enabled, allowing anyone else on the voice channel to hear you and speak to you.

To disconnect, click the little phone icon with the X.

Setting up a separate channel is pretty easy. See that plus sign in the toolbar beside both text and voice? Click that baby to start a new channel. Choose between a text channel or a voice channel, choose a name, and boom — a new channel is born.

This can help keep different topics separate. You can have a channel for people playing games, another for people to talk about the news, and another for sharing cute animal pictures. This server is your oyster!

Creating a channel (Discord)

Video and private messaging

Video is only enabled for private messages, so let’s go talk to a friend.

See DMs (Discord)

Go into your friend list and click on your friend’s icon to start a message thread.

DM Screen (Discord)

A friend!

Here you can chat with your friend with text, or you can go to the top right of the screen to start a video call (the little camera icon), start a voice call (the phone icon), or add friends to the chat (the person plus icon).

To video chat with multiple people, you have to add them to a group chat. Only 10 people can share video and talk at once in a private group chat.

You did it! Now you can go about your business on your server, join other servers, and chat with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to search the Discord help page for more information or browse their many, many articles on the different ways you can use Discord to connect remotely to loved ones and friends.

Jayme TuckerJayme Tucker

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