How to Use Snapchat

Last updated: October 12, 2016 - 12:04pm EDT

Now that we've introduced Snapchat, reviewed it, and gone over some safety and privacy precautions for it, it's time to start using it!  This tutorial will cover how to do most of the basic functions for the Snapchat application on your mobile device (e.g. smart phone or tablet computer). 

NOTE: the screenshots of Snapchat in this tutorial come from a smart phone running the Android operating system, but it shouldn't look too different on a device running the iOS operating system (e.g. an iPhone or iPad).

To download and install Snapchat:

1. Tap the "Play Store" to open it.

On iOS devices, it will be called the "App Store" instead.

2. Tap the search box, type in "snapchat", and select the suggestion with the Snapchat logo.

If you're using an iOS device, an option with a logo might not appear.  That's okay; just search for "snapchat" and you should find the application by its trademark ghost logo, as seen here.

3. Tap "Install".

If you're using an iOS device, you may need to tap "Get" first, and then "Install".

4. Tap "Accept" to let Snapchat access areas of your device that it may need to.

If you're using an iOS device, you may be asked to log into your Apple account.  If you don't have one, click this link and follow the instructions in order to set one up.

5. When Snapchat finishes downloading and installing, tap "Open" to launch it.

To sign up for Snapchat:

1. Open Snapchat.

Simply turn on your device and tap the Snapchat icon to open it.

2. Tap "Sign Up".

3. Enter your email address, a password, and your date of birth.

For your email address and password, just tap the boxes and type in the information.  For your date of birth, tap the box, and then scroll through the available options.

4. Tap "Sign Up".

5. Type in a user name, and then tap "Continue".

The icon beside your user name will let you know if it's available or not.  If it isn't, Snapchat will suggest some alternatives that are available.  Try one of those.

6. Verify your phone number (if using a mobile phone; optional).

After selecting your country and inputting your mobile phone number, tap Verify.  You will be asked whether you wish to verify via SMS (i.e. text message) or Phone Call.  Select your choice, and then type in the number that you get where it says "Verification Code".  Then tap Verify once more.  (NOTE: if you verify through text message, Snapchat may automatically verify you without having to type in the code.)  You can also tap Skip to skip this step.

7. Add and/or invite contacts to Snapchat.

Snapchat will ask if it can access your mobile device's address book to find people you know who already use Snapchat.  Tap Continue, and then tap Okay if you're cool with this (or tap Don't Allow instead if you don't want Snapchat snooping through your contacts.)

If you allow Snapchat to find potential "friends" in your address book, it will display any of them that it finds.  Simply tap the "+" sign next to their name to add them as a "friend" (or contact) on Snapchat.  When you're done, tap Continue.

On the next screen, you will also have the opportunity to invite other people in your address book to join Snapchat and add you as their friend.  You can also just skip all this, if you'd like.

How to log into Snapchat

1. Turn on your mobile device and tap "Snapchat" to open it.

2. Tap "Log In".

3. Enter your user name (if necessary) and password, and tap "Log In".

How to add friends to Snapchat

1. Turn on your device, tap "Snapchat" to open it, and log in (if you haven't already).

2. Tap the "ghost" icon in the top-middle of the main screen to get to your profile screen.

3. Tap "Add Friends" in the bottom-middle of your profile screen.

4. Tap the method that you wish to use to add friends to Snapchat.

Our Snapchat Friends article has specific instructions on the different ways of adding friends to Snapchat.

How to create a Snapchat "snap"

1. Open Snapchat and log in (if you haven't already).

2. Press the large button at the bottom-middle portion of the main screen.

If you tap this button, Snapchat will take a picture.  If you hold it, Snapchat will record a video until you release the button.

You can also tap the switcher icon in the top-right corner (if available) to switch your mobile device's camera between facing towards you and facing away from you.  The flash icon in the top-left corner (if available) will turn your mobile device's camera flash on or off.

3. Add emojis to your snap.

Tap the notepad icon in the upper-right corner to add an emoji to your snap.  Select the category of emoji that you want, scroll through your options, and then tap the emoji that you want to add it to your snap.  You can also tap and hold on an emoji, and then move your finger around to move the emoji to wherever on your snap you want it.

For more on adding emojis and what they mean, see our Snapchat Emojis article.

4. Add a caption to your snap.

Tap the "T" icon (or tap pretty much any empty space on your snap) to add a caption to your snap.  Simply type in what you want to say about your snap, and then tap anywhere else on the screen when you're done.  Like with emojis, you can tap and hold on your caption and drag it to a more suitable spot on your snap.

5. Draw on your snap, or add filters to it.

Tap the pencil icon to draw on your snap.  Simply tap the places on your snap where you wish to draw stuff.  You can also tap the colour bar underneath the pencil icon to switch colours, or tap the undo arrow icon to the left of it to erase the last part that you drew.  Tap the pencil icon again to stop drawing.

While back on the main editing screen for your snap, you can also swipe the screen to add filters to your snap.  Some may only be available if you have allowed your mobile device to find your location using GPS and other tools.

6. Set your snap time limit (if it's a picture).

Tap the clock icon in the bottom-left corner, scroll through your options, and then tap to set the amount of time that someone is allowed to view this snap before it deletes itself (if it's a picture).  You can choose between one and ten seconds.

7. Send your snap to your friends.

Tap the arrow icon in the bottom-right corner to begin the process of sending your snap to your friends.

On the next screen, tap the check boxes beside the friends that you wish to send your snap to.  Then tap the arrow icon again to send it!

How to send a Snapchat "chat"

1. Open Snapchat and log in (if you haven't already).

2. From the main Snapchat screen, Tap the "Chats" icon in the bottom-left corner.

3. Tap the "Chat With" icon.

4. Tap the name of the person whom you wish to chat with.

5. Tap the "Send a Chat" box, type in your message, and then press the yellow circle to send it.

How to log out of Snapchat

1. From the main Snapchat screen, tap the "Profile" icon in the top-middle.

2. From your profile screen, tap the "Settings" icon in the top-right corner.

3. Scroll to the bottom of the settings menu, and tap "Log Out".

4. Tap "Log Out" in the window that appears to confirm.


Here ends our guided tour of Snapchat!  But we've still got more to teach you, so be sure to check out our other tutorials to learn about friends, emojis, and stories on Snapchat!  See you later!


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