How to use Snapchat: for beginners

Phones at the ready. Snapchat’s for everyone, not just the kids, and you’re about to become a pro.

What is Snapchat?

A social media mobile app for friends who want to create and send fun photos and videos, called Snaps.

And how does Snapchat work?

Snapchat takes advantage of your phone’s camera with a suite of features – colourful filters, 3D animations, stickers, lenses – and tools to doodle with. The point of Snapchat is mainly to create and send Snaps (short videos, edited photos) to your friends, who’ll see these only briefly and later Snapback a reply. Once opened, Snaps delete themselves when the screen’s tapped, unlike Tweets and Facebook posts. Snapchat Stories too are only visible for 24 hours, unless saved to Memories. Snapchat’s loved for being temporary. Keeping in touch is fun and fast. And there’s no pressure to be an artist, Snaps don’t last.

Plus, you can swipe through to the Chat feature and type messages, record voice notes, video call or even game with friends. After mastering these basics, see our guide to more advanced Snapchat hacks.

Snapchat words and phrases

If Snapchat speak is new to you, don’t worry, all the useful definitions will be covered, as well as features you’ll most want to play with when you’re starting out on the app.

How to create your Snapchat account

Install the app and sign up

Search for Snapchat on Google Play or the App Store and get it downloaded. When its yellow icon appears on the home screen of your iPhone or mobile, the app’s installed, you’re ready to open it up and follow the prompts to set up your Snapchat account. This, you could do in 30 seconds: enter your name, tap Sign Up and Accept, then pop in your birthday.

Afterwards, create your username. Only this step would really make someone stop and think. Because if you choose Change My Username, below Snapchat’s recommended username, it's worth taking a moment to create something timeless as your username can't be changed. When you're happy with your username, tap Continue and create your password. Almost there. Next, use your mobile number to sign up for your first Snapchat account or, if you’ve registered your digits with the app before, opt to put in your email address. And for the final push, select pictures to prove you’re not a robot and you’re done. You have a Snapchat account.

Add your friends and accept requests

Here’s how to find their accounts and connect on the app so you can Snap, Chat and game with people you know. When you have friends on Snapchat, you might see where they are around the world by swiping right twice on the main camera screen for the Snap Map.

Let Snapchat see your phone contacts

One of the first things the app does is offer to look through your address book and show you who has an account. Listing these people on Snapchat with an Add button next to their name, the app makes it super easy to tap and connect. For this to happen, agree to the popup while you’re setting up your account or go to your profile anytime and tap Add Friends, then All Contacts.

Search names or usernames

You can add someone on Snapchat without having their number in your phone by typing their name or username into the search bar. Give the magnifying glass a tap at the top of your screen and go looking for friends. When you come across their Snapchat, press +Add.

Add Back

Swipe right on your Snapchat and sometimes you’ll have a notification that someone added you as their friend. If so, you can tap to Ignore them or do the sociable thing and accept their request by choosing to Add Back.

Scan Snapcodes

Next time you meet in person, your friend can pull up their Snapcode on their phone from their My Profile on Snapchat. By pointing your phone’s camera at this, then pressing and holding the image on your screen, you can add them fast without typing names or giving the app their details. Snapcodes, rather like QR codes, can do more advanced tricks on Snapchat though they’re pretty simple looking – a yellow box around your profile picture or Snapchat’s ghost logo.

Snaps are photos and videos, here’s how to…

Snapchat Stories are collections of Snaps, here’s how to…

You can save Snaps and Stories to Snapchat Memories

Just as you’re finishing your Snap, tap Save before you send (the down-arrow pointing to a tray). Or press the 3 dots, next to your entire Story or on the Snap in your Story that you want to add to your Memories, to get the Save button.

Whenever you feel like reminiscing, swipe up on Snapchat’s main camera screen and you’ll see your saved Memories. If it’s a year to the day that you saved your Snap, you’ll see it pop up as a Flashback Memory that you can share with your friends.

How to Chat on Snapchat

Like WhatsApp or texting, Snapchat Chat is where you type and send messages, record voice notes and send photos from your phone. Press the rocket button and you can even play games with your friends. Swipe right on the app’s main camera screen and you can Chat...

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