What Pinterest Is and How to Use It

A brief intro to the visual social network that everyone loves

Photo © Kim Kulish / Getty Images

You’ve heard about it from friends, you’ve read about it on blogs, and you’ve been convinced that it’s hottest the thing on the web. Everyone’s on Pinterest and it seems as if everyone absolutely loves it.

So, What Is Pinterest?

Pinterest is like an online pinboard—mostly for collecting visual pieces of multimedia (mostly images) But before you jump on board with everyone else, you should first understand what Pinterest is all about.

You can create as many boards for your pins as you want, which is great for organization. For example, if you like collecting pictures of zoo animals, you can create a board and label it “Animals.” On the other hand, if you also like collecting recipes, you can create another board and label it “Recipes.”

Pinterest users interact with each other through liking, commenting, and repinning each other’s stuff. That’s what makes it such a hot social network.​

So, are you ready to get started? Good!

Follow the slides below to get set up on Pinterest and start using it yourself.

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Sign Up for a Free Pinterest Account

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

Pinterest is totally free to use, but just like any other social network, you need an account to start using it.

You can create a free account at Pinterest.com with an email and password or simply choose to create one from your existing Facebook or Google account. You'll be asked to fill out a few details such as your name, age, gender, language and country before you'll be instructed to pick at least five categories to follow so that Pinterest can start showing you personalized pins based on your interests.

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Familiarize Yourself With Your Profile

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

In the top right corner, you should see your name and profile picture, which you can click on to go to your profile. (If you haven't yet set up a profile picture, you can do so by clicking the three dots in the top right corner, selecting Settings from the dropdown menu and navigating to Profile in the lefthand menu.)

Here, you'll see three tabs:

Boards: Displays all the pinboards you created.

Pins: Displays all the things you recently pinned.

Tried: All the pins you tried for yourself and left feedback on.

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Start Saving Pins to Your Boards

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

Here comes the fun part. Now that you’ve spent some time setting up your account and you have a brief understanding of how Pinterest really works, you can start saving pins to your boards.

Save Pins You Find on Pinterest

To save a pin that you found while browsing Pinterest, just hover your cursor over the pin and click the red Save button that appears in the top right corner. You'll be asked which board you want to save it to.

Save Pins You Have on Your Computer or What You Find on the Web

Navigate to your profile click either your Pins tab or Boards tab and look for the Create Pin button or Create Board button to the far left of your pins/boards.

Create Pin: If the image is on your computer, so you can upload it to the web. However, if what you want to pin is on the web, copy and paste the direct URL in the given field and you'll be able to select specific image you want to pin.

Create Board: Use this to create different boards and to keep your pins organized. Name your board and make it Secret (private) if you like.

Pro Tip: If you like to randomly save things to Pinterest while browsing the web, you'll definitely want to install Pinterest's browser button to make saving as easy as doing in a couple of clicks. 

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Follow Other Users

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

If you come to find that you really like the boards and pins of specific users, you can follow them so that their stuff will show up on your personal homepage board feed (when you’re signed in to Pinterest).

Simply click the username of any Pinterest user to pull up their profile and click Follow at the top of their profile to follow that user’s boards or you can alternatively follow specific boards of that user by clicking the individual Follow button beneath each board.

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Interact with Other Users

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

Pinterest’s intuitive user platform makes it extremely easy for anyone to share and interact with other people. You can interact in the following ways on Pinterest:

Save: Use this to save the pin to one of your own boards.

Send: Send a pin to other users on Pinterest or share it on social media.

Comment: If you have something to say about the pinned item, feel free to leave a comment.​

Add a photo or note: If you tried the pin (such as a recipe, a craft, etc.) then you can upload your own photo and add a comment about what you did or didn't like.

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Discover New Things on Pinterest

Screenshot of Pinterest.com

Besides regularly checking your home feed to find what's new, you can take advantage of the unique categories Pinterest has available for you to browse through. You can find this in the top right corner, marked by the hamburger button.

You'll find the following categories plus many others here:

Popular: See what kind of stuff is generating the most interest, the most saves and the most comments on Pinterest.

Everything: Roll your mouse over this option to display a list of categories of things you can browse through.

Videos: Although images are the main things that get shared on Pinterest, there’s also a special section for videos too.

Gifts: Users like to recommend things they can make or products they like on popular shopping sites.

Final Tip: Take Advantage of Pinterest on Mobile!

Pinterest is loads of fun to use on the regular desktop web, but you'll be blown away by the power of the mobile apps for iOS and Android. Discovering new pins, saving them and finding them again later when you need them couldn't be easier or more handy with the app!