Snapchat

Everyone is talking about Snapchat, right? It’s one of the hippest messaging services around, but it’s as confusing as it is exciting. I know I had a hard time understanding it the first time I used it. We sure don’t want you to go through a similar experience!

In this post we aim to teach you how to use Snapchat, as well as explain exactly what it is. There’s more than naughty sexting to it (though it is a key component), so let’s get started.

What is Snapchat?

Before diving into how to use Snapchat, first things first: what is this Snapchat? It is a messaging service. We know you have plenty of chatting apps out there, but this one is a little special in that it tends to be more… spontaneous? Its main feature is that no message really stays around.

Snapchat logo
Shutterstock

You can send photo and video messages to your friends, and these will self-destruct 10 seconds after being watched. Once gone, these messages are never to be seen again. Unless you take a screenshot, that is; and your friend will get a notification if you do that.

Snapchat is very popular among younger users. According to Statista, 37% of its USA subscribers are ages 18-24 (as of February 2016). Meanwhile, 23% are 13-17 and 26% are 25-34.

How to use Snapchat – Getting started

Before you can learn how to use Snapchat, you have to download it first! Once you have downloaded the app, then you can sign up (or sign in) and add whatever friends on your contact list that may already be on Snapchat.

The main screen

Once you are done with the initial set-up, the application will take you straight to the fun. Snapchat will access your camera and present you a live feed of the view as the home screen.

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The buttons on the top allow you turn the flash on/off or flip over to the other camera. There’s a Snapchat logo in the middle, which grants access to a few options such as adding friends, looking at your friends list, taking a look at your Snapchat code and changing your general settings. You can also hit the question mark symbol to add new people using the Snapcode.

There’s a couple icons on the bottom, to the right and left of your shutter button. These will take you to your Snapchat messages and stories, which we will talk about later in the post.

Taking and sending a Snap

Now that you know the home screen (which is basically the camera function), it’s time to get snapping. Here is how to use Snapchat and send a snap – first, you can take a picture by tapping the shutter button. Pressing and holding the same button will take a video clip. But taking the actual photo or video is only half the fun; there is plenty of editing power to make an ordinary shot look fun and dynamic.

how to use snapchat

Lenses (filters)

Instagram is not the only one rocking those cool filters – Snapchat has some too, and they call them Lenses. There’s your typical vintage ones, as well as some showing information about the image (time, temperature, location, displacement, etc.). Hell, you can even do the cool face-swapping one!

All you have to do to switch through them is swipe from left to right (or right to left).

Stickers

The sticker function can be accessed through the button on top of the editing page, which looks like a sticky note. Pressing this button will open up a whole page filled with stickers, which you can select by simply tapping on the chosen one.

Moving it around the screen is a matter of simply dragging it with your finger. But if you happen to be working with a video, you can literally stick it to anything, even if the subject is moving.

Simply tap and hold on the sticker, then drag it to the object in the video you want it to stick to. Let’s say it’s my eye. Once located, one can let go of the sticker, and it will follow whatever you placed it over. In this case, my eye.

Text

Adding a text is just as simple. Just tap on the “T” button and you will be allowed to write anything on a shadowed area. Once done, get rid of the keyboard and you can drag the text area around to your will.

Drawing

The pencil button in the editing page makes it possible to draw over your images or clips. You will get a variety of color options. Simply draw anything with your finger after choosing your color of preference. A refresh button also makes it possible to start your drawing over.

Other options

Along the bottom one can find some other options. Let’s go through them from left to right.

  • If you took a picture, the first option along the bottom will let you choose how long you want people to view the image. If it’s a video, you will have the option to mute the sound.
  • The next button will download your media.
  • The square with a “+” makes it simple to add a snap to your Story (more on stories soon).
  • The big arrow is a ‘send’ button. You will use this one when you are ready to share away.
how to use snapchat

Stories vs messages

You have a section called “My Story”. It makes your content visible to all your contacts for 24 hours. During that time, they can view your image or video as many times as they want.

Sending your content to specific recipients, on the other hand, will make it so that only your chosen friends have access your content. And yes, they can only view it once. Well, actually… twice now. Snapchat has added an option to replay snaps a second time, if needed.

Messages

how to use snapchat

Wondering how to use Snapchat messages? It’s actually pretty simple.

Something great about Snapchat is that the application is very fluid. You can get through most of the interface by swiping around. When in the home screen (camera section), simply swipe from left to right and you will be taken to your inbox.

Alternatively, you can tap on the bottom-left button in the home screen. The button will show a number displaying how many snaps or content you have waiting for you, so it also works as some form of notification count.

Regardless, this is where your friends’ messages live. You can use the search function if you need a specific one. There’s also a button to start a conversation on the top-right corner of this page.

There are two ways to interact with your messaging threads. The more basic one is to tap and hold on a conversation. You will be presented with a few options: one for viewing the chat, another for sending a picture/video and a gear icon with a few options (among them, the ability to block a user).

Or you can just tap on a thread and swipe from left to right to access the chat. This chat will have all the content your friend has sent you. Keep in mind everything here is temporary. Once you view it, everything will disappear. Even text messages (that is, unless you or your friend save them). You can also send images, emojis and start calls/video calls.

Note: We decided not to focus too much on the voice/video calls here. It’s simply not a feature many go to Snapchat for, but it’s there, just in case you would like to. They are also easy to operate.

how to use snapchat

Stories

Now we’ll show you how to use Snapchat Stories. First, you need to swipe to the other side of the home screen (right to left) to display the Stories page. Here is where all you can find all your friends’ stories. You can search using the magnifying glass, or you can just scroll down through your ‘recent updates’ or ‘all stories’ sections.

Going through the stories is simple. Just tap on the stories and they will be displayed. Skipping through different stories is as easy as tapping on the screen at any time. Alternatively, you can pull out the chat window from the bottom, while looking at a story post, and start a conversation. This can also be done by swiping up. Swiping down will close the Story session.

Discover

Those feeling a little adventurous can also look through the ‘Discover’ section, which includes Snapchat accounts from sites, but it also comes linked with other content. Pages like MTV, Vice, BuzzFeed and other content creators make Snapchat posts. Instead of being able to message them when looking at a snap, you can access their articles by swiping up.

Follow Android Authority on Snapchat!

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Here at Android Authority we are always trying to stay in touch with our readers, and one of our solutions for keeping communication flowing with you is Snapchat. We do our best to stay active, so you might want to join the fun!

Time to get snapping! We hope you enjoyed our tutorial on how to use Snapchat. Hit the comments and let us know if you have any other tips for your fellow Snapchat users. Maybe you have some questions. Either way, we would love to hear from you.

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive.