Houseparty is a fun way to meet online with friends or colleagues if you're stuck at home or out on the road. It's mainly popular with teenagers, but that doesn't mean adults can't also make use of its simple, no-frills approach to video group-chats.
In this article we show you how to get the app up and running and the basic features you can use to make calls, lock rooms and chat with the other participants.
What is Houseparty?
While Houseparty is at heart a video-calling app along the lines of Skype, Zoom, and suchlike, it has a slightly different approach in terms of how people gather together online. When you first log on, your friends will be notified that you're 'in the house' and they can invite you to join their room. Each room (or party) can host up to eight people and come in two types Locked or Open.
Open rooms are, as the name suggests, available for any people to come in and out of freely, while Locked rooms are a private space where only invited members can talk to each other. You can request to join a locked room, called 'Waving', but the occupants don't have to agree.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of Houseparty is the ability to play games with friends, including a form of Pictionary and Heads-up all of which are included for free, but sadly these seem to only work on the iOS and Android versions of the app.
Is Houseparty safe to use?
Houseparty was recently at the centre of widespread reports of hacking linked to social media accounts. The company has insisted that the app had nothing to do with these stories and that it has been the victim of an online smear campaign. It states that Houseparty doesn't collect password for other sites and has even offered a $1 million bounty for the first person to provide proof of the campaign so that the culprits can be brought to justice.
If you're worried about your social media or other accounts potentially being at risk, then not only should you opt out of sharing your contacts while setting up Houseparty, but also set up two-factor authentication on all your accounts. Each service will have instructions telling you how to do this, plus you can read How to set up two-factor authentication on iPhone, iPad and Mac.
How to get Houseparty on Mac
It's extremely easy to download Houseparty as it's available for free in the Mac App Store. Just click the Get button and install it as you would any other app.
The developers helpfully include a variety of guides to the software on the App Store page, so be sure to scroll down and familiarise yourself with some of the fundamentals.
How to set up Houseparty on Mac
After installing the app, follow the instructions to set up your account, starting with clicking the Sign Up button.
One area that needs consideration is linking your contacts. Houseparty will ask for access to them during the setup process so that it can automatically see if your friends are online and using the service.
You don't have to agree to this, though, as you're able to invite people to join you on Houseparty by directly sending them your profile ID instead. If you prefer to use the latter method, then click the Skip option when prompted and then use the Copy Profile Link that appears in the next step.
How to set your Houseparty status
When using Houseparty there are three statuses you can use: Online, Around or Offline. You'll find these by clicking the down arrow just above your name, which opens up a menu.
Online and Offline are pretty-much self-explanatory in that they tell your friends that you're available or not, while Around is similar to the Away setting you'll find on most chat services.
How to chat with friends on Houseparty
Once you've invited friends to join your contacts on Houseparty you'll want to start hanging out.
To do this, click the Go Online button and you'll see a live video feed of yourself appear on the screen. Underneath the image is a row of icons that allow you to either close the window, make it full screen, share your screen, turn off your camera and microphone, or lock the room.
Once your invitation has been accepted by your friends, their names will appear in the Friend Requests box with the option to Accept.
Do so and they will now be available in the main contact area, enabling you to click the Join button and begin chatting.
If you have other friends on your list, then you can add them to the group chat in the same manner. Houseparty has a maximum of eight people in any room at one time.
While the group is enjoying the call, you can also send private messages to other attendees. To do this, click on their name in the group list (the box on the left) and you'll see a smaller panel appear with a text box at the bottom. Just type in your message, press enter, and they should instantly receive it and be notified.
How to lock a Houseparty room
Once you have your party assembled you can prevent anyone else from entering the 'room' by hovering your mouse cursor over your onscreen video feed then clicking the little padlock icon that appears underneath. To open the room back up, click it once more.
How to play games on Houseparty
If you're using an iPad or iPhone, there is plenty of fun to be had with the built-in games such as Heads-Up, but sadly these features are not supported on the Mac version. Having a friend try to start a game only has Houseparty tell them that you are using an unsupported device.
This is a real shame as the party games are one of the main draws for using Houseparty. While it's a simple group-chat platform, if you want more features then you'll either need to switch to your iPhone or try one of the other platforms found in Best video-conferencing apps on Mac.