Use Snapchat

Snapchat is a picture-based chatting app that has taken the world by storm. Download and install the app. Create an account, then read this wikiHow to learn how to use Snapchat!

10 Second Summary

  • Switch between the front and back camera to create a basic Snap. More ↓
  • Try other features, such as Face Swap.
  • Enhance your snaps with emojis, stickers, or filters.
  • Tap the "Send" button, choose a recipient, then tap the "Send" button again to send a Snap.
  • Update your Snapchat app, then tap the "Chat" button to chat.


Getting Started

  1. Download the app. The way to do so is similar on iPhones and iPads as well as on Android devices:
  2. Open Snapchat. It's a yellow app containing the outline of a white ghost.
  3. Tap Sign Up. This will prompt you to create a new Snapchat account.
  4. Create a Snapchat account. You'll be prompted to enter your name, email address, birthday, and mobile number to create a password. Make sure the email address is valid, as you'll need it if you ever want to reset your password. You'll also need to be at least 13 years old to create your account.[1]
    • You'll need to create a unique username that will be displayed to other Snapchat users. Do not include any personal information in your username. You won't be able to change this username later, so make sure you like the name. If you want to change your username later, you'll need to create a new account.
    • Snapchat will prompt you to verify your phone number via SMS. Verifying your number allows you to reset your password via text, but is not necessary to create an account.
    • Snapchat will require you to select a series of images before your account is created. This is to prevent bots from creating accounts automatically. Tap "Continue" after selecting the images that contain the Snapchat ghost logo.
  5. Import friends from your device's contact list (optional). Snapchat will scan your address book to look for other people who are using Snapchat. You can skip this step by tapping Continue and then Not Allow.
  6. Add friends. You'll need people to chat with if you want to use Snapchat. Adding someone lets you send Snaps to the person and view their public Story, but the other person will need to add you back in order to reply to Snaps and view a friends-only Story.
    • Many users don't allow Snaps from users that they haven't added back. If you send a Snap to someone who hasn't added you back, you'll likely see "Pending" until your friend request is approved.
  7. Add friends by username. The quickest way to add a friend on Snapchat is to enter their Snapchat username. You can't add someone by email, real name, or phone number unless they're already in your Contacts and has enabled address book matching in their Snapchat settings.
    • Swipe down anywhere on the Snapchat camera screen. This opens your profile and options.
    • Tap Add Friends. Doing so takes you to the Add Friends screen.
    • Tap Add by Username. The username search will appear.
    • Enter the username of the person you want to add. Start typing in the username and results will appear underneath the search field.
    • Tap the "+" button next to a user. Depending on their settings, you may see their profile image. Tapping "+" adds user to your friends list.
  8. Add people by Snapcode. You can use Snapcodes to quickly add people to your friends list:[2]
    • Take a photo or screenshot of someone's Snapcode. You can also point your Snapchat camera at a friend's Snapcode.
    • Swipe down on the camera screen and tap Add Friends.
    • Tap Add by Snapcode.
    • Select the image that contains the Snapcode you want to add. The Snapcode's owner will be added to your friends list.

Creating a Snap

  1. Switch between the front and back camera. If your device has a front and a rear camera, you can switch between them by tapping the button with two arrows forming a rectangle in the upper-right corner of the Snapchat camera screen.[3]
    • You can also double-tap the screen to toggle between front and rear-facing cameras.
  2. Tap the circle to take a photo Snap. Tap the larger circle button at the bottom of the screen to take a still image Snap. The camera will capture whatever is currently displayed on the screen.
  3. Press and hold the circle to record a video Snap. You can record up to 10 seconds of video in single Snap. Snapchat will only record as long as you are holding the button.
  4. Tap X to discard a Snap. If you don't like the picture or video Snap you took, this button in the upper-left corner deletes it.
  5. Tap the timer button to limit the duration of photo Snaps. Photo Snaps display a stopwatch button that allows you to set a duration between one and 10 seconds. This is the amount of time a Snap will be displayed before it disappears.
    • Video Snaps do not have timers. They will play through the length of the recording and then close.

Using Lenses

  1. Tap anywhere on the camera screen. You can use the Lenses feature in Snapchat to scan your face and apply crazy effects. You can do this with either the front or the rear camera, but you'll find it easier if you're taking a selfie. Tap the Camera button in the upper-right corner to switch to your front-facing camera.
    • You can't apply the Lenses effects to Snaps you've already taken. You'll need to activate Lenses before you take a Snap.
  2. Swipe left to preview Lenses effects. Many offer prompts like "Open your mouth" to ensure you get the effect's best results.
    • The selections of effects rotates on a daily basis, with the oldest Lens in the list being replaced by a new one. If you don't see the effect you want, check back in the next few days.
    • If you can't get Lenses to start, your device may not be compatible. Lenses requires Android 4.3+ on newer devices, or the latest version of iOS on iPhone 4S or newer. Older iOS and Android devices may not work, even if they're running the latest software versions.
  3. Take or record a Snap with your chosen effect. While the effect is active, you can take and record Snaps just like you would normally. Tap the circle button (which displays the Lenses choice) to take a photo Snap with the current effect, or press and hold to record a video.

Swapping Faces with Lenses

  1. Open the Lenses feature. Follow the steps in the previous section to open the list of available Lenses.
  2. Select the "Face Swap" Lens. Swipe through the menu until you find the Face Swap option. The icon has two smiley faces on a yellow background, with arrows pointing between them.
    • If you don't see Face Swap, it may have rotated out of the available selection. Check back in a few days to see if it's back.
  3. Take off your glasses. Users report that the Face Swap effect works best if neither of you are wearing glasses.
  4. Align your two faces with the dotted smiley outlines. These will turn yellow when a face is aligned with it. Once both faces are aligned, they'll be swapped!
    • You don't have to be standing next to each other, you just need to have both faces aligned in the frame.
  5. Take a Snap. Like other Lenses, you can take a Snap by tapping or holding the circle at the bottom of the screen.
  6. Save your Snap. If you want to be able to give the picture to your friend or family member that isn't using Snapchat, save it to your phone or to Snapchat Memories by tapping the Save button in the lower-left corner of the scree and sending it ike you would any picture.[4]

Adding Emoji, Stickers, Text, Drawings, and Filters

  1. Tap the Sticker button to see stickers, emojis and Bitmojis. It's the button in the upper-right that looks like a sticky note with a folded corner. You can place these anywhere on your picture.[5]
  2. Swipe left and right on the Sticker screen to see different categories. There are a variety of stickers to choose from.
  3. Tap a sticker to add it to your Snap. You can drag it around the screen with your finger to place it where you'd like. You can place as many stickers as you'd like.
  4. Use two fingers to adjust the size and rotation of sticker. Pinch the sticker in and out to adjust the size. Rotate your two fingers on the screen to rotate the sticker.
  5. 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 as a person's face. Now you've created a sticker that you can move to any place on the screen with your finger.
  6. Tap T to add a caption. It's in the upper-right corner of the screen. This will open a text field and your device's on-screen keyboard.
  7. Tap T again to increase the size of the text and change the color. Use the slider on the right side of the screen to select the text color you want to use. Holding your finger on the slider will display more color options.
  8. Use two fingers to adjust the size and rotation of the text. Like stickers, you can use your fingers to move the text, rotate it, and change the size.
  9. Tap the pencil button to draw on your Snap. It's in the upper-right corner of the screen. Drag your finger to draw freeform images on your Snap. The slider on the right will allow you to change the color of the line. You can tap the Undo button to erase the last drawing you made.
  10. Swipe left and right to view the available filters. If you're doing this for the first time, you may be prompted to allow location access for Snapchat, as some filters such as Weather and City are based on your device's location.
    • You may need to enable filters in Snapchat's Settings menu. Swipe down anywhere on the camera screen and tap ⚙️ in the upper-right corner. Scroll down and tap '"Manage Preferences in the "Additional Services" section. Slide the button next to "Filters" to the "On" position. It will turn green.

Sending a Snap

  1. Tap the "Save" button to save the Snap to your phone (optional). It's in the lower-left corner and looks like a downward-pointing arrow in a box. When you send a Snap it's gone forever, so it's a good idea save Snaps you want to keep before you send them.
  2. Tap the "Send" button in the lower-right corner when you're happy with your Snap. Once you're satisfied with how your Snap looks, tap the blue Send button to open your Snapchat contacts list.
  3. Tap the recipients' display names. You can send the Snap to as many people on your list as you like. The recipient can view your Snap once before it disappears, unless they use their Replay on it (more on Replays later on).
  4. Tap "My Story" to add your Snap to your Story. Snaps that are added to your Story can be viewed by anyone who has access to your Story for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the Snap is permanently deleted. By default, anyone can view your Story as long as they know your Snapchat username.[6]
    • Snaps in your Story can be replayed as many times as the viewer wants for up to 24 hours.
    • You can change your Story's privacy settings by swiping left on the camera screen and tapping ⚙️ in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap "Send". It's in the lower-right corner of the screen. Your Snap will be sent immediately to everyone that you selected.

Viewing Snaps and Stories

  1. Tap the Chat button to see Snaps you received. It's shaped like a chat bubble and is in the lower-left corner of the screen. You'll see a number in this button indicating how many new Snaps you've received.
    • Red Snaps are photos.
    • Purple Snaps are videos.
    • Blue Snaps are text chats.
  2. Tap the Snap you want to view. The Snap will disappear as soon as the timer runs out.
    • If you've received multiple Snaps from the same person, you'll be able to view them back-to-back while you continue to hold the screen. You can tap with a second finger to advance to the next Snap early.
    • You can take screenshots of Snaps, but the sender will be notified that you did. Most Snapchat users don't like it when people take screenshots, as it's contrary to the spirit of Snapchat. Check with the sender for permission before screenshotting, or you may get blocked.
  3. Press and hold a Snap again to use your single-use Replay. Snapchat allows you to replay a Snap once before you navigate away from the Chat screen. If you leave the screen, you lose your replay..
  4. Swipe left on the camera screen to open Stories. Doing so takes you to the screen where you can view your friends' Stories.
  5. Tap a Story to view all of the Snaps in the last 24 hours. When you tap a Story, it will begin to play from the oldest Snap. Each Snap will play through its timer and then move on to the next one. Tap the right side of the screen while the Story is playing to move on to the next Snap, or the left side to go back one Snap.[7]
    • Swipe down on the screen to quickly close a Story.
  6. Reply to a specific Snap in a Story. At any time during a Story (as long as you're friends with the person), you can send a reply to the Snap you are viewing. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the onscreen keyboard.
  7. Tap My Story to view your own Story. This will only appear if you've added Snaps to your Story.
  8. Tap the ^ button at the bottom of your Story to see details. You'll be able to see how many people have viewed each Snap, as well as how many have screenshotted it. You can tap the Trash button to delete that particular Snap from your Story, or tap the Download button to download it to your phone.

Chatting with Snapchat

  1. Tap the Chat button. It's in the lower-left corner or swipe right on the camera screen to open your inbox.
  2. Tap the "New Chat" button in the upper-right corner. This opens a list of all of your Snapchat contacts.
  3. Tap the user you want to chat with. This will open the chat screen.
  4. Enter text using the keyboard. Type messages like you would with most chat programs.
  5. Use the buttons above the keyboard to enhance your messages.
    • Tap the "Photos" button to open your phone's gallery. Doing so allows you to send pictures that have been saved to your phone.
    • Tap the "Phone" button to place an audio call. The recipient will be notified that they are receiving a call.
    • Press and hold the "Phone" button to record an audio note. You can record up to ten seconds of audio that the recipient can listen to when they are in the chat.
    • Tap the "Video" button to place a video call. The recipient will be notified that they are receiving a video call and can choose to answer.
    • Press and hold the "Video" button to record a video note. Like the audio note, you can record up to ten seconds of video that the recipient can view.
    • Tap the "Smiley" button to open stickers, emojis, and Bitmojis. Private chats have more sticker options available than regular Snaps. Scroll down through the list to view all of the available stickers.
    • Tap the "Circle" button to open the camera screen. This will let you create a Snap and send it directly to that person.


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Sources and Citations