Get Started Using Snapchat

01
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Get Started with Using Snapchat

How to Use Snapchat
Photo © Getty Images

Snapchat is mobile app that offers a fun, visual way to chat with your friends as an alternative to regular SMS text messaging. You can snap a photo or a short video, add a caption or a drawing and then send it to one or multiple friends.

All snaps automatically "self-destruct" just seconds after they are viewed by the recipient, making it the perfect app for quick instant messaging by photo or video. As long as your mobile device can access the Internet, you can send and receive snaps from anywhere.

To get started with using Snapchat, you need to download the app for iOS or Android to your mobile device.

02
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Sign up for a Snapchat User Account

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

Once you've downloaded the Snapchat app, you can open it up and tap the "Sign Up" button to create a new user account.

You'll be asked for your email address, a password and your birth date. You can then choose a username, which acts as your unique identity of the Snapchat platform.

Snapchat asks its new users who sign up to verify their accounts by phone. It's recommended to always do this, but you also have the option to tap the "Skip" button in the upper right corner of the screen.

03
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Verify Your Account

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

Snapchat asks its new users who sign up to verify their accounts by phone. If you don't want to provide your phone number, you also have the option to tap the "Skip" button in the upper right corner of the screen.

You'll then be taken to another verification screen where Snapchat will display a grid of several small pictures. You'll be asked to tap the pictures that have a ghost in them to prove that you're a real person.

Once you've successfully verified your new account, you can start sending and receiving snaps with friends. But first, you'll need to find some friends!

04
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Add Your Friends on Snapchat

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

To add friends, either swipe left or tap the list icon in the bottom right corner located on the camera screen. You'll be taken to your friends list. (Team Snapchat is automatically added to everyone who first signs up.)

There are two ways you can find and add friends on Snapchat.

Search by username: Tap the little magnifying glass at the top of the screen in your friends list tab to start typing in friends' usernames if you them.

Search by your contacts list: If you don't know a friend's Snapchat username but have them in your contacts list, you can tap the little person/plus sign icon at the top of the screen followed by the little booklet icon on the next screen to allow Snapchat access to your contacts so that it can automatically find your friends for you. You'll have to verify your phone number here if you skipped this step when first setting up your account.

Tap the big plus sign beside any username to add that person to your Snapchat friends list. You can hit the refresh button on your friends list to see new friends that have been added.

05
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Get Familiar with Snapchat's Main Screens

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

Navigating Snapchat is quite easy, and all you have to remember is that there are four main screens -- all of which you can access by swiping left to right or right to left. You can also tap the two icons on each side at the bottom of the snap camera screen.

The far left screen shows you a list of all your received snaps from friends. The middle screen is what you use to take your own snaps, and of course the far right screen is where you'll find your friends list. 

An additional screen was recently added to Snapchat, which lets you chat in real-time by text or video. You'll find this screen by swiping right from the screen the displays all of your received snap messages.

06
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Take Your First Snap

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

Access the middle screen where your device's camera is activated to start with your first snap message. You can take either a photo or a video message.

You can also tap the camera icon in the top right corner to switch between your device's back and front-facing camera. 

To take a photo: Point your camera at whatever you want to be in the photo and tap the big button in the middle at the bottom.

To take a video: Do exactly the same as what you would do for a photo, but instead of tapping the big round button, hold it down to film. Lift your finger when you're done filming. A timer will be visible around the button to let you know when the 10-second maximum video length is up.

Tap the big X in the upper left corner to delete to photo or video you just took if you don't like it and want to start over. If you're happy with what you've got, there are a few things you can add to it.

Add a caption: Tap the middle of the screen to bring up your device's keyboard so you ca type a short caption into your snap.

Add a drawing: Tap the pencil icon in the upper right corner to select a color and doodle all over your snap.

For a video snap, you have the option to tap the sound icon at the bottom to take away the sound completely. You can also save your snap to your gallery by tapping the arrow button next to it (which automatically save it to your phone's pictures folder).

07
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Send Your Snap and/or Post It as a Story

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

Once you're happy with how your snap looks, you can send it to one or multiple friends and/or post it publicly to your Snapchat username as a story.

A Snapchat Story is a snap that is displayed as a small icon beneath your username, which can be viewed by any of your friends by accessing their friends list. They can tap it to view it, and it will stay up there for 24 hours before it's automatically deleted.

To post the snap as a story: Tap the square icon with a plus sign inside of it.

To send the snap to your friends: Tap the arrow icon at the bottom to bring up your friends list. Tap a checkmark beside anyone's username to send it to them. (You can also add it to your stories from this screen by checking "My Story" at the top.)

Hit the send button at the bottom of the screen when you're done.

08
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View Snaps Received By Your Friends

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

You'll be notified by Snapchat whenever a friend sends you a new snap. Remember, you can access your received snaps any time by tapping the square icon from the snap screen or by swiping right.

To view a received snap, tap it and keep your finger held down. Once the view time has run out on that snap, it will be gone and you won't be able to see it again.

There's been some controversy over Snapchat privacy and taking screenshots. You can certainly take a screenshot of a received snap, but if you do, Snapchat will send a notification to the friend who sent it that you tried to take a screenshot.

As you continue to use Snapchat, your "best friends" and score will be updated on a weekly basis. Best friends are they friends who you interact with the most, and your Snapchat score reflects the total number of snaps you've sent and received.

09
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Chat in Real-time by Text or Video

How to Use Snapchat
Screenshot of Snapchat for Android

As mentioned in slide #5, Snapchat recently introduced a new feature that lets users send text messages and chat with one another by video in real-time within the app.

To try this out, simply access the screen with all your received snap messages and swipe right on the username you want to chat with. You'll be taken to the chat screen, which you can use to type and send a quick text message.

Snapchat will notify you if one of your friends is currently on Snapchat reading your messages. This is the only time that you can activate a video chat.

You'll be able to press and hold down a big blue button to start a video chat with that friend. Just lift your finger away from the button to hang up the chat.

Fore more cool ways to instant message your friends, check out this article on some of the most popular and free instant messaging apps you can use.