Get Effects on Snapchat

Snapchat is a popular social networking and messaging app for both iOS and Android, and you can add various effects to your photos and videos using the app. To get effects on Snapchat, you might consider using lenses (i.e. face effects), applying filters, trying the face-swapping feature, adding typed text, decorating with stickers or emoji, or using the drawing feature. Experiment with different options, have fun, and see what you can come up with!


Using Lenses (Face Effects)

  1. Understand what the Lenses feature offers. The most recognizable Lens was one of their first: puking rainbows. Since then, Snapchat has continued to push out new Lenses regularly -- face swapping, various animal faces, character transformations, facial contortions, “Birthday Party,” and more.
    • Lenses are special effects that are applied in real-time using face detection, so you can watch how your actions affect the Lens on screen live. As Lenses are often interactive, you may have to match a certain motion in order to produce a certain effect (e.g. open your mouth for the rainbows to continually waterfall out). There are 10 free, featured Lenses per day, and they change. If you did purchase any Lenses when that was an option, those are permanently available to you.
    • Lenses are used before you take or record your Snap, while filters are added after you take the Snap. You can use both Lenses and filters on the same Snap.
  2. Acknowledge the mobile device and hardware limitations of Lenses. Lenses do not work with the majority of Android smartphones, and only with recent iPhones (though there have even been reported inconsistencies with recent iPhones). If you don't have a new device, there's a good chance that you won't be able to get Lenses to work, and even if you do there is a chance it just may not work.[1]
    • The iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad are not supported. However, various supported devices have had some users report that the feature does not work for them.
    • Lenses requires Android 4.3 or later for Android devices. Even with the latest updates, some users report that the feature still will not work.
  3. Update Snapchat. You'll need to make sure that you're running the latest version of Snapchat to access Lenses. You can update Snapchat from the App Store or Google Play Store.
    • See Upgrade-Snapchat for details on updating your Snapchat app.
  4. Switch Snapchat to Selfie mode. Lenses works by recognizing a face and then morphing it with effects. You can use it with either your forward-facing or rear-facing camera, but you may find it easiest to test with the front-facing camera. Opening the app will take you directly to your main camera. There are two ways to access the forward-facing camera:
    • Tap on the top right icon (a circle enclosed by two arrows), this will give you access to your forward-facing camera.
    • Simply double-tap the screen to switch between cameras.
  5. Hold your phone away so you can see your entire face. Lenses works best when you can see your entire face in the frame.
    • Also, make sure the lighting is decent, otherwise this may hinder the facial recognition.
  6. Press and hold your face on the screen until the whole geometric shape is complete. After a moment, your face will be scanned and the Lens options will appear at the bottom of your screen.
    • Make sure that your entire face is in the screen, and that you're holding the camera still. You may have to press and hold for several seconds or try a few times until the feature turns on. If you only see portions of the geometric shape covering your face, this may be due to your lighting.
  7. Select the Lens that you want to use. Swipe left and right to select from the Lenses available. Snapchat rotates the Lens selection on a daily basis, so there are always new choices.
    • Some of the popular Lenses that you'll likely encounter include puking rainbows, screaming, zombie, "in love," and crying.
    • “Birthday Party” Lens is activated on your birthday (if you’ve activated Birthday Party in Settings). You can also access this Lens when it’s a friend’s birthday -- simply look for the cake icon next to their username to indicate their birthday, and tap the cake icon to get access to the Lens right away.[2]
    • Because of the rotating selection, the Lens you are looking for may not be available. Check back in the next day or two to see if it has become available again.
  8. Follow the instructions for the Lens you chose. Many Lenses will display a quick command to make the effect happen. For example, to do the puking rainbow you're prompted to open your mouth.
  9. Take or record a Snap. Once you're ready, you can tap the Capture button on the bottom (in this case it will have the image of the feature you select) to take a Snap (photo), or press and hold it to record a video (up to 10 seconds). Your Lens effect will be recorded in the Snap.
    • For photos, on the bottom left you will see an icon of a ‘3’ with a circle around it. Tap that to select the number of seconds (up to 10) you would want your photo to last for when being viewed.
    • Android devices must be running 5.0 or later to record video Snaps with Lens effects. The iPhone 4, 4S, and iPad 2 are not supported. Even with compatible devices, there have been reports of the feature not working for some users.
    • Consider adding additional effects (text, drawing, emoji and stickers). All the other effects can still be applied onto a Snap that’s used the Lenses feature (as explained in the other sections).
  10. Send your Snap. Once you've captured your Snap, you can send it to the Snapchat contacts you select, post it to your Story (visible for 24 hours), or just save the photo/video without posting just like you would any other Snap.
    • The second icon from the left on the bottom with an arrow and line will save the photo/video without posting it.
    • The third icon from the left on the bottom with a box and a plus will only post it to your Story, which is available for 24 hours to anyone you've enabled to see it.
    • Tap the blue Send To button in the bottom-right corner to select the people you want to send your snap to. You can also select your Story.
    • After you selected your recipients, tap the blue arrow in the bottom-right corner to send your Snap.

Using Filters

  1. Understand what a filter is. Snapchat filters are added after taking the Snap, and give your photo or video added pizzazz without too much work. Simply swipe left or right to access them, or read the full details below.
  2. Make sure that Snapchat is up to date. To get access to the most filters, you'll need the newer versions of Snapchat. If you haven't updated in a while, updating may give you more filter options. You can update the app through the Google Play Store or the iPhone App Store.
    • See Upgrade-Snapchat for details on updating your Snapchat app.
  3. Enable Filters. Swipe down from the camera screen and tap ⚙️ In the upper-right corner to open the Settings menu.
    • Scroll down and tap Manage Preferences in the "Additional Services" section of the menu.
    • Slide the button next to Filters to the "On" position. It will turn green.
  4. Enable Location Services for Snapchat. You must report your location to Snapchat if you want to use any filters. Some filters require access to your location to work, such as the city or temperature filters.
    • iOS - Open the Settings app. Scroll down and tap Privacy. Then tap Location Services. Slide the button next to Location Services to the "On" position if it's not already green. Scroll down and tap Snapchat. Tap While Using the App.
    • Android - Open the Settings app. Select "Location" and then toggle "Location" on at the top of the menu.
  5. Take a picture or record your video. Start from the main Camera screen. Tap the larger circle to take a picture; hold the circle for a video of up to 10 seconds. For a photo, click the bottom left icon with the ‘5’ with a circle around it to select how long you want the image to be displayed before disappearing -- it goes up to 10 seconds max. For video, if you want to mute the sound tap the audio button in the bottom left corner.
  6. Add a filter to the photo or video. Swipe the photo to the right or left to add different filters. Geo-specific filters are not available if Location Services is not enabled. Swipe left or right to see the available filters
  7. Add a Geofilter. These filters are available based on your current, exact location.
    • City-based - usually includes a few versions representing the city you are in (usually by name).
    • Community-based - which consists of artwork approved by Snapchat that anyone can submit for their location, then you will see those also. No brand logos are allowed.[3]
    • On-Demand - Either companies or people can pay to customize their own filter restricted to a geographic location. In this case, brand logos are allowed.
  8. Try a Video-only filter. This set of filters alters the state of your video and its sound.
    • Rewind - characterized by three left-facing arrows, this feature plays your video backwards. This includes the sound of the video.
    • Fast Forward - only a rabbit (no lines) identifies this feature, speeding up the video and sound (but not as fast as Faster Fast Forward).
    • Faster Fast Forward - marked by the rabbit with lines above and under, this feature speeds up your video times two. The sound is also super sped up.
    • Slow Motion - appropriately represented by a snail, this makes your video and sound slow-mo.
  9. Try a Data filter. This set of filters pulls data from when the snap was taken to give some added perspective.
    • Battery Life - this filter relates to your mobile device’s actual battery life. It will be smiley, green, and full only when your battery is completely full, or red and nearly empty when your device's battery is extremely low.
    • Time or Date - this filter adds the time you took the photo or video. Tap the time that shows up and it will change into the date. Tap it again and it will give you another layout option for the date.
    • Temperature - adds the temperature at your location. Tap the temperature listed to get Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.
    • Speed - adds the speed at which you were moving when you took the picture or video. If you weren't moving, it will be 0 KM/H or 0 MPH -- tap the number to alternate between the two measurements.
  10. Try a Color filter. This set of filters changes the tint of your photo or video.
    • Black & White - makes the photo or video black and white.
    • Vintage or Saturated - will make your photo or video look saturated and "aged".
    • Sepia - will give your photo or video a yellow-brownish tint.
    • Bright - will make your photo or video brighter.
  11. Consider adding more than one filter. To add more than one filter, swipe to a filter you like. Press and hold the photo with one finger and then swipe with the other.
    • You can add up to 3 for photos (Geofilter, Data, Color) and up to 5 for video (Geofilter, Data, Color, Rewind, and one of the three speed filters).[4]


  1. Activate the Lenses feature to find the face swap options. The Lenses feature in Snapchat offers two different face swap options: You can swap faces with someone else in the same frame, or you can swap faces with pictures stored on your device.
    • To activate Lenses, press and hold on a face in the Snapchat camera frame. After a moment, the Lenses will appear at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select the yellow face swap option to swap faces with someone nearby. This Lens can be found towards the end of the list, and has two smiley faces on it.
  3. Line up both of your faces in the overlay on the screen. When you select the yellow face swap Lens, you'll see an overlay of two smiley faces appear on the screen. Line up both of your faces and Snapchat will swap them.
    • Your face will appear on your friend's body and vice versa!
  4. Select the purple face swap Lens to swap faces with pictures on your phone. This Lens can be found towards the end of the list, and has a smiley face and a camera for the button. When you select it, Snapchat will scan the photos on your device and find pictures with faces that can be swapped.
  5. Tap the face that you want to swap with. Snapchat will scan your photos and find pictures that have faces. You won't be selecting the image itself, just the face that is detected by Snapchat.
    • This feature overlays a face from one of your photos onto your body in real time - it's sort of like creating your own custom lens in real-time!

Adding Typed Text

  1. Add text to the photo or video. Tap the photo or video. Type a message, and then tap Done, enter, or tap the screen. The text is automatically added to the center of the screen.
  2. Enable text effects. Touch the "T" in the top right corner of the screen to enable text effects. This will enlarge the text, center left, and remove the caption bar.
    • Tap the “T” a second time and it will align the text in the center.
    • Tap a “T” a third time and it will revert you back to original.
  3. Move, modify the size, and rotate the text. Touch and drag the text to move it. Pinch the text to shrink it. Zoom the text to increase its size. Rotate your two fingers together on the text to turn the text to the angle you want.
  4. Change the text or text color. Tap the actual text. The color picker and keyboard will open. Touch the color picker to change the text color. When you're done, touch Done, enter, or tap the screen.
    • If you want to change a single letter or word, select that letter or word, and then touch the color picker to change the color that that letter or word.

Adding Stickers, Emojis and Bitmojis

  1. Add stickers, emojis, or Bitmojis. Tap the Stickers button at the top of the screen (it looks like a folded sticky note, to the left of the “T”). Swipe left and right on the list to see the different categories. Scroll down to see the selection. Tapping an emoji will add it to the picture, and then you can drag it to exactly where you want it with your finger. You can add as many stickers as you'd like.
    • Pinch to shrink, zoom to enlarge them. You can also rotate the sticker by placing your two fingers at the ends and rotating them at the same time.
  2. Pin stickers to objects in a video Snap. When you press and hold a sticker on a video Snap, the video will pause, allowing you to drag the sticker onto an object in the frame. Releasing the sticker on this object will "pin" it, and the sticker will track the object as it moves on the screen.
  3. Consider creating a custom filter hack with a sticker or emoji. Select a sticker. Zoom in on the sticker so that it completely loses shape, and put the focus on the edge of the emoji or sticker. The translucent edge can act as a custom color filter for your photo or video.[5]
  4. Make a sticker. Tap the scissors icon at the top of the screen, then use your finger to outline any part of the video, such a person's face. Now you've created a sticker that you can move to any place on the screen with your finger.
    • Stickers you make will appear at the top of the Stickers menu when you tap the Sticky-Note icon.
    • You can remove the sticker from your image by holding and dragging it up toward the Sticky-Note icon, which will morph into a Trashcan as you approach.

Using the Drawing Feature

  1. Draw on the photo or video. Touch the crayon icon on the far right of the top right corner of the screen. Choose a color in the color picker. Touch the screen to draw. When you're done, touch the crayon button again.
    • If you don't like what you drew, touch the undo button (a left-pointing, curved arrow) to the left of the crayon icon.
  2. Find hidden colors. While black and white are built into Android, iOS has a rainbow slider that does not show these colors. To access white, drag your finger from the rainbow slider to the top left corner. To get black, drag your finger from the rainbow slider to the bottom center. To make gray appear, drag your finger from the rainbow slider to the bottom left corner. To find hidden colors (like baby pink and burgundy), drag your finger from the rainbow slider around the screen.
    • On Android only, there is also a “transparent” color. Simply press down until the full color palette appears; select the “transparent” color there.

Using Older Versions

  1. Take a photo. Follow these steps if you're using an older version of Snapchat and don't want to update to the newer versions.
  2. Add a sepia filter to your photo. Touch the photo to open the text box, and then type Sepia….
    • It's important that you type the three ellipses.
  3. Add a black and white filter to your photo. Touch the photo to open the text box, and then type b&w….
  4. Add a negative filter to your photo. Touch the photo to open the text box, and then type Negative….



  • To add someone with a photo of a Snapcode, crop the picture so only the Snapcode is showing. Then open Snapchat, go to Add Friends, add by Snapcode, and then choose the picture with the Snapcode. To add someone with Snapcode open Snapchat, put your camera over your friend's Snapcode, hold the code, then add friend.
  • To add two filters, take a picture, choose a filter, hold the screen on that filter, and then swipe to pick another filter.
  • To make an emoji track you just take a video, pick an emoji, hold it on the item that you want to track, then let it go.
  • To add music, open a music app such as Spotify, choose a song, open Snapchat, and then record the video.
  • To change text color: Type something and then select the word or letter you want to change the color.
  • To get secret colors: (iOS) Take a picture, go to your color palette, and then go to your top left for white and your bottom left for black. (Android) Take a picture, hold your color palette, and then you will get a transparent color.
  • For a secret screenshot: Turn airplane mode on, tap to load a story, tap to view story, and then screenshot. Then the person who sent you the snap won't get a screenshot notification.
  • For hands-free recording: (iOS) Go to system settings, accessibility, Assistive Touch, Create New Gesture, hold your finger, and then name it Snapchat. Now in Snapchat just open the square with the circle in it, look for custom, tap Snapchat, move the circle with the dot to the recording button, and then let it go.
  • To activate travel mode, go to Settings and scroll down to Manage Preferences under "Additional Services." then turn on Travel Mode. This will help you reduce data usage.

Sources and Citations