Snapchat is the popular ephemeral photo messaging app that allows you to take photos, record videos, add drawings, and send them to your friends. When a friend receives a photo or video message (also known as a “snap”), it appears for a few seconds — 10 at most — and then it’s permanently deleted. Snapchat was created by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy and launched in 2011.
Whether you’ve been using Snapchat for a while, or you’re a complete beginner, these Snapchat tips and tricks will help you to become a pro. Snapchat is available for download on the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Phone Store.
To get started with Snapchat, you’ll need to download the app from the App Store, Google Play, or Windows Store. Once the app has finished downloading, tap the Snapchat icon to open it. Tap Sign Up, enter your email address, and then tap password and enter a secure password. Next, you’ll need to choose your username, which will be your identity on Snapchat. Make sure it’s something that you’ll be able to remember, because you won’t be able to change your username once you have set it.
Keep in mind, that in order to use Snapchat, you need to be at least 13 years old. If you aren’t 13 years old, you’ll be re-directed to a restricted version of Snapchat called Snapkidz.
From there, you’ll need to do a few things to get started:
Adjust your settings: Before you start using Snapchat, make sure you take a look at your settings by tapping on the red square that is located at the bottom right-hand corner of your camera screen. Then, tap the gear icon in the top-right hand corner. This is where you can also update your personal information, including who can send you snaps and view your Stories.
Find and add friends: To add friends on Snapchat, tap “My Contacts” on your Profile screen. All of your contacts with Snapchat accounts will then be displayed, along with friends who don’t have Snapchat. If one of your friends doesn’t have Snapchat, you can send them an invite via SMS. When a friend adds you, the ghost icon at the top of your Camera screen will turn yellow. To add a friend who has added you, tap “Added Me” on your Profile screen.
Create your first snap: When you open up Snapchat, it automatically activates your phone’s camera, and it’s pretty easy to use. You can easily adjust the focus of the camera, by tapping anywhere on the screen. To switch from rear camera to front camera, tap the camera icon in the top right-hand corner. To turn on the flash, tap the lightning symbol at the top-left hand corner. To snap a photo, tap the circle at the bottom of the screen. To take a video, tap and hold the circle at the bottom of the screen. With Snapchat, you can only record videos up to 10 seconds long.
Next page: How to spice up your snaps
How to spice up your snaps
One of the greatest things about Snapchat is that it offers plenty of features to help spice up your snaps. You can doodle on your snaps, add different hues, and adjust the time limit. To doodle on your snaps, tap on the pencil tool, which is located on the top-right hand corner. You can pick a color by adjusting the slider. Then, use your finger to draw on the photo. If you make a mistake, don’t worr᷾y — you can easily undo your mistake by tapping the arrow on the left of the pencil.
How to add a cool filter or effect: Are you trying to add different hues to your snap? Make sure you go to your settings and enable the filter feature. Simply swipe your finger left or right and you’ll be able to preview each feature.
How to adjust the time limit: By adjusting the time limit, you can choose how long you want your recipient to be able to view your snap. With Snapchat, you can adjust the time up to 10 seconds. Tap the stopwatch icon at the bottom of the left-hand corner, to adjust the time limit.
How to save your snaps: If you want to save your image or video before sending, tap on the downwards pointing arrow at the bottom of the screen to download. If you want to save an image, Snapchat must have access to your photo album.
Next page: How to send and receive snaps
How to send your first snap
Now that you’ve opened up your account, and you’ve added some friends, you’re all ready to send your first snap! To send your first snap, tap on the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner. Next, your contact list will appear, and you can choose who you want to send it to. With Snapchat, there is no limit on how many people you can send a snap to, so have fun with it and send your snap to as many friends as you want. When you’re ready to send your snap, tap the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner.
How to view received snaps
To view your snaps, go to the camera screen, and you’ll see a number located on the bottom-left hand corner of the screen. This number will show you how many new snaps you have. If you find there is a filled-in icon next to your friend’s name, that just means you haven’t opened up their snap yet. If you see an empty square or triangle that means you already viewed the snap.
Next page: How to create, send, and discover stories
How to create and send Stories
Back in 2013, Snapchat introduced Stories, a feature that allows you to add a “snap” to a feed for 24 hours before it vanishes. Stories can be seen by your friends – or pretty much anyone.
To create a Story, take a photo or video and then tap on the icon with a plus sign, which is located at the bottom of your screen. Next, tap “Add to Your Story.” If you want to delete a snap from your Story, just go to your “MyFriends” page and tap on the gear icon next to your Story. You can also manage who views your Stories by going to settings.
Discover curated stories from Snapchat’s editorial teams
You can discover highlighted curated stories from Snapchat’s various editorial teams. Right now, there are 15 media outlets to choose from, including IGN, Tastemade, iHeart Radio, BuzzFeed, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, Comedy Central, ESPN, CNN, People, Vice, Food Network, and Mashable. There’s also a Snap channel, that offers posts from other content creators.
To use Discover, tap on any of the channel icons located in the Discover section on the Story screen. You can swipe on top of a Snap to check out videos, pictures, and more. Swipe to go to the next story, or pull down to close the channel’s edition. While each channel has ads, you can easily skip through them.
Next page: How to chat and exchange money
How to chat on Snapchat
Snapchat doesn’t just let you send snaps and Stories, you can also chat with your friends. To start a chat, go to your Snapchat inbox and swipe right on a friend’s name. If you want to send a photo or video, tap the yellow camera button. When you leave the chat screen, all of your messages between you and your friend will automatically be cleared. If you want to save a chat, tap on the message you want to keep, and the font will change, this just means the conversation has been saved.
How to live-video chat on Snapchat
Once you and your friend are in the chat, the camera button will turn blue. To start a live video chat, all you and your friend need to do is hold your fingers down on the camera button at the same time. You can easily switch from the front-facing camera to the rear-facing camera by dragging your finger up or down. If you want to end the video chat, drag away from the locked position and take your finger off the screen.
How to exchange money with other Snapchatters
In 2014, Snapchat partnered with Square to launch Snapcash, a service for sending money to friends. After you add your debit card, it’s securely stored by Square, who will process your payment and send money directly to your friend’s bank account. Once your debit card is set up, all you have to do is swipe into chat, type the dollar sign and the amount you want to send (e.g. $15), and hit the green Snapcash button that will show up on the right. Snapcash is only available to Snapchatters who are 18 years old and live in the U.S.
We’ve reached the end of our Snapchat tips and tricks roundup, but do check back because we’ll update this article with new tips in the future. If you have a suggestion please share it in the comments.