If you’ve heard the word ‘Snapchat’ whispered by young people while they’re looking at their phones laughing, and you’ve started to wonder what is Snapchat, you’ve come to the right place. Rather than ask a member of the younger generation to teach you how to use Snapchat (they’ll probably laugh at you), we’ve put together this handy Snapchat guide to tell you what it is and show you exactly how to use it.
And there is definitely no need to feel ashamed about your lack of knowledge about the latest app to have apparently taken over the world. Just as we conquer one social media app, another is created. The struggle is real (as the ‘youth’ would put it). If you’ve got any questions about using the app, just ask us in the comments and we’ll get our panel of Millennials to tell you everything you need to know about Snapchat but were too afraid to ask.
What is Snapchat?
In a nutshell, Snapchat is an image messaging and multimedia mobile application (translated as a picture and video app’, for those of us who don’t speak tech) — and we’ve never felt more inadequate. What is Snapchat? These are the most important things you need to know.
- Most people use it to send images and videos (called ‘snaps’) directly to their friends — the most important thing to know is that images and videos sent as messages only last 10 seconds, and then they’re gone. But you can take a screenshot if you — or the person you sent the snap to — wants to save it (we deal more with this later).
- You can also use Snapchat to chat with friends in the way that you’re probably used to, via typed messages.
- You can also post ‘stories’, which are snaps (pictures and videos, remember?) that all of your followers can see for 24 hours.
- The fun thing about Snapchat is that when you take a snap, you can choose to apply a lens to your picture or video while you take it. These lenses can turn you into all sorts of things — from a dog (complete with a giant licking tongue that appears when you open your mouth) or a unicorn, to a princess with a crown of flowers.
- Snapchat also allows you to draw on snaps, apply filters or add text.
How to use Snapchat — a very comprehensive guide
If you’ve been dying to download Snapchat and try it out, go for it! As long as you’ve got this Snapchat guide open, nothing could possibly go wrong. We’ve even taken screenshots of all the steps so it’ll look like you know exactly what you’re doing.
1. Download Snapchat and sign up
2. Add contacts
To help you find friends on Snapchat, as you would with any other social media app, allow it to access the contacts in your phone by tapping ‘OK’ when the below notification pops up. Don’t worry — this won’t automatically make all of your contacts your friends on Snapchat, it just imports your contacts into Snapchat and then you can decide who you want to share snaps with.
To add friends, or accept friend requests, tap on the little ghost on the top of your screen, then tap ‘Add friends’. Tap ‘Add from Address Book’. Now tap the ‘+’ symbol next to a friend’s name who you want to add (or to invite them to use the app).
The easiest way to add someone who isn’t in your address book (like a blogger, celeb or publisher), is to select ‘Add by username’ and type in their username. Or you can take a screenshot of their Snapcode, and tap ‘Add from Snapcode’ in the ‘Add friends’ section. A Snapcode is a unique scannable code that looks something like this:
If you meet someone and want to add them on Snapchat, just open your Snapchat camera, hover your device over their Snapchat profile screen. Tap the ghost on your screen and you’re friends!
3. How to get snapping
Now that we’ve answered ‘What is Snapchat’, here’s how to send your first snap.
The camera works just as it would for any other app or for picture/video taking purposes. Tap anywhere on the screen to adjust the focus, tap the camera icon in the top right-hand corner to switch from rear camera to front camera and the lightning symbol at the top-left is to turn the flash on and off.
To take a photo, tap the large circle at the bottom of the screen. To record a video, hold the circle at the bottom of the screen — you have to keep holding the circle to keep recording. You can record videos up to 10 seconds long.
Add a caption
Add a sticker, caption or a drawing to your picture once you’ve taken it by clicking on one of the three symbols on the top right of your picture.
How to add a Snapchat lens
One of the best things about Snapchat is the lenses. Here’s how to have fun with lenses.
- Open up your Snapchat camera, and before you take a photo or video press down on your screen on the face you want the lens to appear on until you get a web-like feature across the area.
- Your available lenses will pop up at the bottom on your screen — slide along until you find one that suits you!
- Once you’ve decided on a lens, tap the large circle in the bottom middle of your screen to take a photo, or hold it down to take a video.
- The available lenses also change every so often, so you’ll always be left guessing.
Read more: The pros and cons of social media
Set a time limit
You can choose how long you want your recipient to view your snap for — up to 10 seconds. To adjust the time limit, tap the stopwatch icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
4. Send your snap
When you’re ready to send your snap, simply click on the blue arrow on the bottom right of your screen — a list of your contacts will automatically pop up and you can choose who you’d like to send it to. Keep in mind they can only view it once before it disappears (unless they’re super quick and manage to take a screenshot).
5. Receive snaps
When you receive a snap, a number will appear on the bottom-left corner when you’re on your camera screen. Swipe to the right to access your contact list and look at whoever has a filled in icon on the left of their names. Tap the icon to view the snap.
6. Upload a story
Like with other social media apps, you can upload pictures and videos for all of your followers to view. The stories exist for 24 hours and can be replayed as many times as you want during this time.
To create a Story, take a photo or video and then tap the rectangle icon with a plus sign located on the bottom of your screen. Tap ‘Add to Your Story’. Once you’ve done this, it will exist on your feed for 24 hours, after which it will disappear… forever.
7. View stories
To see what your fellow contacts slash celebs are up to — simply swipe left when you’re on your Snapchat camera screen. Tap on a contact’s name to view their story, and double tap on their snap to send them a private reply.
8. Live chat
Snapchat also works like Whatsapp in that you can send text messages, pictures and videos to your contacts as well. To start a chat, visit your Snapchat inbox and swipe right on a friend’s name.
To attach a photo or image that’s on your phone, tap the bottom left icon in the rectangle. To take a picture, tap on the circle. To take a video, tap on the video camera icon.
BE WARNED: As nifty as this little app is when it comes to sending say, naughty pictures — we advise against it. Not only because it’s generally a bad idea, but because there is this little thing called a ‘screen grab’ and when you take a screen grab — the sender of said images is immediately notified, so there’s really no getting away with it.
What is Snapchat? You asked and we answered! We hope this Snapchat guide has made things a little clearer. If not, enjoy the Millennial apocalypse.