7 must-know tips for making calls on Facebook Portal

Did you just get a Portal? Here's how to make your first call and some tips to make things easier.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read
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Facebook's  Portal  smart screen was designed to make people feel like they are in the same room, even when they are far apart.

I have to say, it is pretty darn cool. The camera follows you as you walk around, and the sound quality is actually decent. 

If you're just starting out with the Portal, here's how to make your first video call and some tips to managing calls easier.

Who can you call?


Messenger friends on Portal

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First and foremost, it's important to understand you can only call people you're connected with on Facebook or Messenger. Basically, you're making Messenger video calls on a bigger screen. 

Want to call Aunt Jenny with your Portal? She's going to need a Facebook account.

Starting a call

To start a call, say, "Hey, Portal." It will answer you with a beeping sound. Then say, "Call [contact name]." More than likely, Portal will give you a choice of people to call. Just say the number that is displayed above the person's Facebook photo when the options come up on the screen. 

If you don't want to talk to Portal to place a call, go to the home screen and tap the icon of the person you want to call. Then, when their information box pops up, tap Call.

From there, just like when you're making calls with your phone on Messenger, you can turn off the video or audio by pressing the mic or camera icons on the screen.

Watch this: 5 apps for group video calls

Wear a mask

Just like when making regular Messenger calls, you can use augmented reality (AR) to add funny masks and filters to spice up your conversations. 

While in a call, tap the gray Effects icon, then tap on the orange Effects icon. From there, you can choose your filter or mask by tapping on it. To turn effects off, tap on the Mask icon.

Mute a call

Need to mute your microphone during a call? Press the left button on top of the screen. When a red light shows up, that means the camera and the microphone are turned off. 

Of course, the person you're talking to will see you pressing the button, so don't think that you're doing something on the down-low.

Facebook's video calling smart display connects you with friends and family

See all photos

Making group calls

You can invite up to six people to be on a video call with you. To add more people, tap on the blue + icon while you're in a call or while you're making a call. A friend list will pop up at the bottom of the screen. Scroll right to find the person you're looking for, then tap their icon. 

Transfer a call from your Portal to your phone


How to transfer a call from your phone to Portal.

Alina Bradford/CNET

If you're in the middle of a call, but need to go to another room or head outside, you can transfer a Portal call to your phone, provided you have the Messenger app installed. Just open up Messenger on your phone and tap Transfer call with [contact] at the top of the screen.

Heading back to your Portal? You can also transfer a call from your phone to Portal. Tap the transfer icon found at the top right corner of your Messenger call screen.

Only get calls when you're home

Want calls to only go to your phone you while you're on the go? Switch on the Home and Away function. 

To turn it on, go to the home screen and swipe left. Then, tap on Settings > Incoming Call Settings > Only When You're Home. Finally, go to your phone. A popup will ask you if you want to turn on Home and Away. Confirm and you're ready to go. 

This feature will use your mobile phone's and your Portal's location to automatically determine if you're home or not. When you're away, calls are sent only to your phone.

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