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How to get started using Bluesky Social: Everything you need to know

Bluesky is one of several social networks striving to offer an alternative to X. Here's how to join and use it.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Bluesky Social download

Though Bluesky is completely free, trying to sign up has been a challenge as you need a special invite code.

NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images

With X (formerly Twitter) triggering a host of concerns and complaints since Elon Musk took ownership in late 2022, many disgruntled users have been seeking an alternative. In response, rival social media platforms have popped up that aim to offer a Twitter-like experience but without the baggage that Musk brings to the table. One such service is Bluesky Social.

Bluesky is a decentralized social network that feels and works a lot like Twitter. And that's no coincidence. The company is backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey. Kicked off in 2019 when Dorsey was still Twitter CEO, Bluesky was supposed to develop with cooperation and funding from Twitter. But after Musk took over, the two entities cut ties.

Also: The rise and fall of Usenet: How the original social media platform came to be

Amid Twitter's turmoil and decline in users and advertisers, Bluesky Social has been generating more buzz, prompting people to wonder if it's worth joining. 

Though Bluesky is completely free, trying to sign up in the past had been a challenge as you needed a special invite code -- and those had been in short supply. But in February of 2024, Bluesky shed its invite-only status and is now open to anyone who wants to join. How do you sign up and use the service? Let's take a look.

How to get started with Bluesky Social 

1. Use the Bluesky app or website

With Bluesky Social no longer requiring a hard-to-get invite code, signing up is easy. Just head to the website and click the button for Create a new account.

Also: Micro-social media: What is it and which tools should you try?

To go the mobile route, download and install the app from the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android. Launch the app and then click the button to create a new account.

Bluesky website page

Use the Bluesky app or website.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

2. Add your email address

At the next screen, enter your email address, create and type a password, and then enter your birth date. Click Next.

Add your email address
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

3. Enter your phone number

The next screen asks you to verify your account through a text. Confirm your country and then enter your mobile phone number. Click the button to request a code.

Enter your phone number
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

4. Enter the code

At the next screen, enter the code you received on your phone. Click Next.

Enter the code
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

5. Create a user handle

At the next screen, create and type a user handle. Your full handle on Bluesky will then be the name you type followed by .bsky.social, as in @johnsmith.bsky.social. Click Next.

Create a user handle
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

6. Choose your interests

The next screen prompts you to choose your favorite interests so that Bluesky can direct you to accounts you may want to follow. Select your interests and then click Continue.

Choose your interests
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

7. Choose accounts to follow

Next, Bluesky displays a series of accounts you might want to tollow based on your interests. Scan the list. To follow them all, click Follow All at the bottom. To follow only certain ones, deselect the accounts that don't interest you and then click Follow All. To bypass them all, click Skip.

Choose accounts to follow
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

8. Customize your feed

The next screen tells you that your default feed is Following, meaning all the accounts you follow. Here, you can determine whether you want to view replies, reposts, and quotes in the feed. Turn off the switch for any items you don't want to see. Click Continue.

Customize your feed
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

9. Choose your main feeds

At the next screen, select any feeds you wish to see in addition to the core ones. Click Continue.

Choose your main feeds
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

10. Choose additional feeds

Next, select an additional feeds you want to see based on your interests. Click Continue.

Choose additional feeds
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

11. Allow or block certain content

Next, you can determine which type of content you wish to allow or block. To be able to see adult content, turn on the switch for that item. From there, you can opt to hide, warn, or show specific content, such as nudity, hate group iconography, spam, and impersonated accounts. When done, click Continue.

Allow or block certain content
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

12. You're ready to go

The final setup screen then tells you that you're ready to go. Click the Let's go button to dive in.

You're ready to go
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

13. Access your Bluesky Following feed

You're taken to your Bluesky Following feed (which looks a lot like the Twitter feed).

Also: Changing this one phone setting instantly made the Threads app better for me

The mobile app displays tabs at the top and icons at the bottom. If you swipe to the right in the app, you can access the same categories as on the website.

Access your Bluesky Following feed
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

14. Search for more accounts to follow

Click the Search button. Bluesky will suggest more accounts that might interest you. Select the Follow button for any you want to follow.

Search for more accounts to follow
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

15. Search for specific accounts to follow

To find specific accounts by name or topic, tap the Search icon. Type a search word or phrase. In response, the search window displays associated accounts, while the feed lists both posts and users that match your search term. Select an account in the search window or the feed and click the Follow button to follow it.

Search for specific accounts to follow
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

16. Discover popular posts and accounts

Return to the main feed screen. Click the Discover link to find popular new posts and potential accounts to follow. Another link for Popular with Friends shows you posts popular with the accounts you follow. 

Also: I tried Bluesky Social and it's basically a far friendlier Twitter (for now)

Select the account name for any post that interests you and select the Follow button to follow it.

Discover section
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

17. View your feed

After you've added some feeds and followers, return to the Home page and select the Following tab or icon to view your feed.

Viewing own feed
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

18. Respond to a post

You can respond to a post in a number of ways. Tap the Reply button to add a reply to the post. Tap the Repost button to repost or quote it. Tap the heart icon to like it. Tap the ellipsis icon to translate the post, copy its text, share it, mute the thread, or report it.

Responding to a post

Respond to a post.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

19. Submit a post

To submit a post, tap the blue icon in the mobile app or click the New Post icon on the website. Type your post. Select the photo icon to attach a photo. Select the camera icon to snap and take a new photo. 

Also: How to find your followers and friends on Mastodon

You can also create an ALT tag for an image, which describes it to someone who's unable to see it. Add the text for the ALT tab and select Save. When done, select Post.

Submitting a post of a cat

Submit a post.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

20. Submit a post with a link

You can also add links to your post. Select and copy the link from its source and then paste it into your post. Select the option for Add link card to display a preview of the page. When done, select Post.

Submitting a post with a link

Submit a post with a link.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

21. View notifications

Select the Notifications icon or category to view any notifications.

Viewing notifications

View notifications.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

22. Mute or report a post

If you run into any objectionable content, there are a couple of steps you can take. For an individual post, select the ellipsis and select Mute thread to silence it or Report post to report it to Bluesky. If you report it, you're asked to select a category, e.g., spam, unwanted sexual content, copyright violation, etc. You can then add details to the report or immediately send it.

Muting or reporting a post

Mute or report a post.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

23. Mute or block an account

You're also able to take certain actions on an entire account that you find objectionable or offensive in some way. Select the name of the account to view its profile page. 

Select the ellipsis. Here, you can mute the account to silence its posts, block the account entirely, or report the account to Bluesky.

Mute or block an account

Mute or block an account.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

24. Moderate your feed

You can view any content or accounts that you filter or block. To do this, select the Moderation category (in the mobile app, swipe to the right first). Select Content filtering to control what type of content you want to see in your feed. Select Mute Lists to add any public lists of users you want to mute. Select Muted accounts to view specific accounts you've muted and Blocked accounts to see any accounts you've blocked.

Moderating feed

Moderate your feed.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

25. View and edit your profile

Click the icon or category for Profile. The screen shows your posts and replies along with the number of posts, followers, and followed accounts. Select Edit Profile to add or change your display name, description, and picture. Then, save your changes.

Viewing and editing a profile

View and edit your profile.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

26. Share or save your profile

At the profile screen, select the ellipsis icon and you can share the profile with another person, app, or service. You can also add your profile to another list.

Sharing or saving a profile

Share or save your profile.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

27. View and adjust your settings

Finally, select the icon or category for Settings. Here, you can add another account or invite a friend (both of which require another invite code). 

You're able to change the appearance of the screen, adjust the preferences for your feed, set up app passwords, view saved feeds, switch your language, change your handle, and delete your account.

Adjusting settings

View and adjust your settings.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET
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