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Facebook Avatar on desktop computers or iPads: What to know if you don’t use a smartphone

Facebook rolled out its Avatar feature in the United States last week, but if you use Facebook exclusively on a desktop computer, you may have some issues.

Facebook Avatar on desktop computers or iPads: What to know if you don’t use a smartphone
[Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash]
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If you were on Facebook this weekend, you no doubt saw that it was flooded with oddly puerile cartoon characters that look like something out of an early-2000s children’s show.

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They’re called Avatars, and they’re Facebook’s answer to Snapchat’s Bitmoji. The feature has been around for a while, but it recently launched for users in the United States—making Avatars the talk of the town for locked-down Americans across the land. In a nutshell, Avatars let you create a customized cartoon version of yourself (that probably doesn’t look like you, let’s be honest) to use in comments and stories.

But if you use Facebook exclusively on a desktop computer or an iPad, you might be missing out on some of the fun. After Facebook executive Fidji Simo announced the Avatar rollout last week, a number of users responded to say that the feature didn’t seem to be available to them yet.

So what’s going on? Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that it’s not possible to create an Avatar on a desktop computer or tablet, and that you need a mobile device to make one. That’s unfortunate for a lot of users who either don’t have smartphones or who have deleted the Facebook app from their mobile devices over privacy concerns—or because they simply don’t like the temptation of having Facebook in their pocket. Facebook declined to say when it plans to roll out Avatar creation abilities on non-phone platforms.

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However, there is some good news: According to Facebook, “once your Avatar is created on your mobile device, you can send comments and Messenger stickers from desktop.” So while you can’t create one on a desktop, you can still use your Avatar on a desktop once it’s created. One workaround might be to load Facebook on your phone temporarily, build the Avatar, and then delete the app once it’s made.

[Image: courtesy of Facebook]
Facebook also shared more detailed instructions on all the different ways to create a new Avatar:

  • Avatar Post: Below each Avatar post, there is a “Try It” button
  • Avatar Sticker: Tap on an Avatar sticker if you see one shared from a friend on Facebook
  • Bookmark: To create or edit your Avatar, go to your Bookmark (the three horizontal lines at the bottom right of your screen), click “See More,” and select “Avatars”
  • From the Comment Composer: To create or edit your Avatar, go to the Facebook or Messenger comment composer (‘Write a comment’), click on the smiley face icon, and click “Make Your Avatar” to get started

Facebook says existing Avatars can be edited from your Facebook profile, comment composer, bookmark, or Avatar sticker. Another limitation: “Avatar creation from Messenger is currently only available on Android, but will be rolled on iOS soon.”

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Enjoy!

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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