Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:46

Element (formerly is a modern all in one messenger for everyone. Featuring basic chat to file sharing as well as video conferencing, it is designed for users of web, GNU/Linux, Windows, MacOS, plus also Android and iOS. In this regard, Element is a great alternative to WhatsApp or Telegram. This basic tutorial will show you, after introducing it (see here and here), how to use it on Ubuntu and your phone. Let's go!

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About Element

Element is a technology built upon Matrix -- that is, a full featured communication system designed after the internet. It is federated (diverse but interconnected) and available as Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). Some key features are easy signup (no phone number required) and bridges (connect to other brand messengers like Slack or Telegram).

Element Web

Go to

This is Element Web. This is the easiest access for everyone to try Element as one just needs existing web browser.

(Element can be accessed from a web browser like Firefox)

Element Desktop

This is Element Desktop, the messenger in form of a stand alone program. You can have it on computer and laptop with all major operating systems.

On Ubuntu, you have two options*, either install it the standard way, or simply run an AppImage.

Install it standard way (official source):

1. Copy paste this command line to Terminal:

$ sudo apt install -y wget apt-transport-https

2. Download a security thing of Element:

$ sudo wget -O /usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg

3. Create new sources.list:

$ echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg] default main" | sudo tee 

4. Refresh your Ubuntu software sources:

$ sudo apt update

5. Install Element Desktop:

$ sudo apt install element-desktop

Once installed, you will find Element on start menu. 

 (Notice the green logo? That's Element.)

Install it AppImage way:

  1. Download the file from GitHub/Srevinsaju.
  2. Give executable permission to that file.
  3. Double click it so Element Desktop runs.
  4. Add new entry to start menu.

No actual installation nor root privilege required.

*) Note: as per today, Element Desktop is not available yet in both Debian and Ubuntu repositories, only in their own repository; while the AppImage is still unofficial.


For Android users, I suggest everyone to have F-Droid first and later install Element. For iOS users, grab Element at the App Store.

(Screenshots of Element Mobile taken from an Android phone)

Create an Account

To use Element Messenger, one must be registered first. An account will look like mine @purplesky alias Malsasa. To register, follow these:

  1. Enter Element Web, Desktop, or Phone.
  2. Click Sign Up.
  3. Under Create account page, there are 3 input boxes, then enter a desired username, a desired password, and repeat that password once.
  4. Click Register.
  5. Solve the human verification.
  6. Accept the Terms of Service and continue.
  7. Congratulations, you got a new Element account!


Once you have an account, you can start messaging! To message, you login first:

  1. Enter Element Web, Desktop, or Phone.
  2. Enter your Element username and password.
  3. Click Login button.
  4. If asked for anything, answer with yes or according to your concerns.
  5. Congratulations, you are now on Element!

Find a Friend

To search Element friends,click plus (+) beside People section. 
You can contact me @purplesky by typing this username there and you should find it has real name Malsasa.

If your friends do not use Element yet, invite them! You can send this article or tell them to try Element.


(Direct Messages [DM] is the friendly dialog to find friends)

Join Groups

There are already so many groups in Element. To find those:

Click Compass button (Explore more rooms button) > a list appears > click join button to join > or type some keywords e.g. technology or cooking and click join > you joined a group. Now start greetings!

Create a Group 

In Element, groups are called rooms. To create a new group is easy.

Click explore room button > click Create A New Room > name the group as you wish > name the address as you wish > follow next instructions > your group created. Now you can invite your friends to join!

Share Files

To share photos, videos, documents, everything else is easy.

You can press paper clip button and select files (more then one is okay) and send. Alternatively, drag and drop from file manager is quicker.

Voice and Video Calls

Calling and video conferencing work.


Click phone button to call your friend. On a group, this calls all members. 


Click camera button to video-call your friend. On a group, this will be video-conference.


Lastly, to close your session, you must logout. To do so, click your username / avatar > Sign Out. That's all.

Further Exploration

After you practice this basic tutorial, you can read the official documentation. I wish you got new excellent experience with Element (Matrix) and please tell your friend. Let's start sharing once again!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.