- You can use Snapchat to send text messages, photos, and videos that disappear quickly after viewing, along with a number of other features.
- In addition to the disappearance of “recordings”, you can create stories and videos similar to TikTok, as well as make voice and video calls.
- Here’s a brief introduction to all the features of a social media app and how to get started.
- Visit the Tech Insider’s Tech Reference library for more news.
Snapchat started out as a personal messaging app, specializing in short-term messages that disappear after a short time. Like a secret message in a spy movie, Snapchat messages self-destructed after a few seconds. The app’s features have expanded in the last few years, and you can now run live video chats, share videos, and create stories.
In fact, Snapchat often launches new features, so you should make sure you always have the latest version of Snapchat updated on your phone.
Snapchat also specializes in augmented reality (AR) plugins for the experience. You can easily add AR-based filters to modify the real world in video clips and improve your own look. What hasn’t changed is that all of this content is short-lived, so friends and contacts need to respond immediately and communicate with your content or it will disappear forever.
The fleeting nature of Snapchat has made it an appealing experience for many millions of people. If you are new to the platform, here are the instructions for use and how to get started. And there is little risk in trying out the service; you can delete your Snapchat account completely if you choose not to use it.
How to use Snapchat
How to download Snapchat and create an account
Unlike Facebook and other social media, Snapchat doesn’t exist as a website, so you have to download and install the app on your phone. It’s free and you can download it for your iPhone or Android device.
Once the app is installed, you need to create an account – tap “Sign in” and follow the instructions to create an account. You will get a generic username based on your first and last name, but you will have the opportunity to change that.
Snapchat will ask permission to access your contacts. This is a matter of personal preference, but for privacy reasons you may want to deny permission.
The last step in setting up your account is to create Bitmoji, which is an emoji symbol based on your own look. The app will need to capture your image, after which you can customize it.
The app will usually leave you logged in for quick access to the app, so you can receive incoming voice and video calls from Snapchat, but you can sign out if you want.
There’s a lot going on in the Snapchat app, and when you first launch the app, it redirects you to the camera view, not any type of timeline or chat view, which can be confusing if you’re using this for the first time. Here’s a brief tour of the tabs on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen:
- Map: The left tab on the toolbar shows where you and all your friends are on the map. If you don’t want to be seen on the map, you can hide by turning off Snapchat location tracking.
- Chat: This gives you instant access to all the conversations you have with friends. Unlike other messaging apps, these texts disappear once you look at them, so you can’t scroll back to read the conversation history.
- Camera: Middle tab on the toolbar, this is where you start each time you open the app. You can use this tool to send recordings (photos and videos).
- Stories: Like Instagram stories, this is a series of shots you can create that live for 24 hours. The Stories tab allows you to discover other people’s stories and create your own.
- Under scrutiny: This tab – the latest in the app – gives you the ability to view Spotlight Snaps, which are TikTok’s 60-second videos.
How to create and send a snapshot
To get started with Snapchat, you can create and send a snapshot (photo or video) to a variety of different places: a friend or a group, or turn it into a story or send it into focus.
On the camera tab, tap the capture button to take a photo, or touch and hold the capture button. Or tap the filter button to the right of the capture button and select the filter or lens to add to your shot.
After you take your shot, you can use the tools on the right side of the screen to modify your shot. You can add text or labels, for example, insert music and select objects in an instant and make copies of them.
When you’re done, tap “Send to” and choose where to go. You should see options for sending to a Spotlight page, creating or adding to your story, adding a bite to a folder, or sending to a specific friend or group of friends.
How to talk to a friend
You can start a conversation with a friend by tapping the chat tab at the bottom of the screen and then tapping the friend you want to talk to. From there, it should work and look like a messaging or chat app, except you won’t see the timeline of previous chat messages, because they are pre-set to be deleted after reading, unless they are saved. You can also create group conversations and send messages to multiple people at once, and you can easily remove people from groups if you later need to change your audience to chat or hook up.
How to add friends to Snapchat
The real value of Snapchat is that you stay connected with friends through your Snapchat friends list, so you probably want to add your friends to easily connect with them, share videos, and see what they post. There are several ways to add friends to Snapchat – here are the most common methods:
- Add from your contacts: If you allow it, Snapchat will find friends based on the contacts on your phone. Tap your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen, then tap “Find friends on Snapchat” to sync your contacts.
- Add friend: Snapchat makes suggestions to friends based on other people you’re already friends with. To quickly add people from these suggestions, tap your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen, then tap “Add friends.” Now just add anyone to the list you want to link to.
- Add a username: If you know someone’s username, you can enter it manually. Tap your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen, then tap “Add friends.” Then enter his username in the search box at the top of the screen and add your friend when you see his name appear.
- Use Snapcode: Snapchat’s smart tool for finding friends is Snapcode. Each Snapchat user gets a unique sticker similar to a QR code that you can scan with your phone to automatically add that person. To do this, take a photo of the person’s Snapcode or take a screenshot. Tap your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen, then tap “Add friends.” At the top of the screen, tap the ghost icon to the right of the search box and select the Snapcode image in the camera scroll.
How to share your Snapcode with someone
You can easily share the snapcode with a new contact. If you are in person, you can show them your Snapcode by tapping your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen – Snapcode is right there. But more often you can include Snapcode in the snap. After taking a photo or video, tap the sticker icon on the right side of the screen, then add the Snapcode sticker. You can place it anywhere you want.
How to view a snapshot
You can add friends and send them recordings, so all that remains is to view the recordings (and text conversations) that have been sent to you.
Tap the chat tab and at the top of the screen you should see a list of chats and recordings waiting for you. They are marked with the color:
- The conversations are blue
- Soundless recordings are red
- Sounds with sound (like videos) are purple.
Tap an entry for your contact to see the recording or text message they left for you. Touch the screen to exit. You can tap to play the recording as long as you are on the chat screen; if you exit, the recording is deleted forever. If you want to save the snapshot, you can take a screenshot, but the person who created it will usually be notified unless you take special steps to take a screenshot without the sender knowing.
Keep in mind that if someone blocks you, you will no longer be able to see their footage or stories.
How to make a video or voice call
You can also use Snapchat to invite one of your friends. Go to the chat card and tap the friend you want to chat with. You should then see the phone and camera icon at the top of the screen to the right of your friend’s name.
To make a voice call, tap the phone. To make a video call, tap the camera. Your friend should see an incoming call even if they are not currently using the Snapchat app.