What Is Pinterest? How Does It Work?

A brief intro to the visual social network that everyone loves

Pinterest is a social site where you can collect and share images of anything you find interesting. You can also visually discover new interests by browsing the collections of other Pinterest users. Here's how to get started using this uniquely creative social sharing tool.

Is Pinterest an App or Not?

It offers an app so you can use Pinterest on either your mobile device but it's also available on your desktop. Use Pinterest on the desktop using the site's recommended browsers Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, or get the Pinterest mobile app for iOS or Android.

What Exactly Is Pinterest Used For?

Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard or bulletin board, but with organizational and bookmarking tools.

If you're interested in a subject, such as cooking or decorating, find images you like on Pinterest or on the web, and then save those images to your Pinterest bulletin board. Create multiple bulletin boards to catalog your interests. For example, create a wedding board, a recipe board, and a decorating board.

For example, to create a recipe Pinterest board, browse through Pinterest to find images of delicious dishes you want to try, then click the image to find its recipe and instructions. Save, or pin, that recipe to your recipe board to access it when you want.

Pinterest is also a social network. Users interact by following each other and by liking and commenting on images, similar to Facebook or Instagram. Save someone else's images to your boards, and private message people with whom you share interests.

Click a Pinterest image to visit the image's original site to learn more about the image or subject.

How to Use Pinterest

To get up and running with Pinterest, create a free Pinterest account, and then start exploring.

  1. Go to Pinterest.com. You'll see a slideshow that gives you an idea of the types of subjects Pinterest can inspire.

    Pinterest home page with image slideshow

    Select About, Business, or Blog from the upper-right corner of the page to learn more about Pinterest.

  2. Select Sign up in the upper-right corner of the web page.

    The Sign Up button on Pinterest
  3. Enter your email, create a password, enter your age, and select Continue.

    Enter email, password, and age to create a Pinterest account

    Or, sign up using your Facebook or Google account.

  4. You'll see a Welcome to Pinterest message. Select Next to continue.

    Welcome to Pinterest message
  5. Choose a gender identity.

    Enter a gender identity
  6. Select a language, then choose your country or region.

    Select a language and country or region.
  7. Select some areas of interest (you can add more later), then select Done.

    Select some areas of interest for Pinterest
  8. Pinterest builds an initial home feed based on your interests. The images you see are called Pins.

    Pinterest's Home Feed
  9. Click a Pin you like to learn more about it. You'll see who uploaded the image and any comments.

  10. Select Save to save the image to a board.

    The Save button on Pinterest

    Select the arrow next to the number of comments to add a comment.

  11. Select Follow to follow the uploader and see their Pins.

    The Follow button on Pinterest
  12. When you select Save, you're prompted to create a new board. Name the board and select Create.

    Create a new board in Pinterest
  13. The next time you select and save an image, Pinterest gives you the option of saving it to your current board or creating a new board.

    Choose a board or create a board in Pinterest
  14. At any time, select Home to go back to your home feed. The Pins you see are continually updated based on the Pins you've liked and saved.

    The Home tab in Pinterest
  15. Go to the Today tab in the upper-left corner to see trending ideas and topics relevant to your interests.

    The Today tab on Pinterest
  16. Go to the Following tab to see the latest pins from people and boards you follow, and to find suggestions on who to follow based on your interests.

    The Following tab on Pinterest

How to Save a Pin From the Web

You're not limited to saving pins that are on Pinterest. If you're browsing the web and come across something perfect for your board, here's how to add it.

  1. From your Pinterest home page, select the plus sign in the lower-right corner of the page.

    The Plus sign on Pinterest
  2. Select Get our browser button or Create a Pin.

    To use the browser button, you need to use Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

    Pin creation options in Pinterest
  3. If you selected Get our browser button, select Got it from the next screen.

    Select Got it to install Pinterest's browser button
  4. You'll see a plus sign on the browser toolbar. Select it and then select Install to install the browser extension.

    The Install button for the Pinterest browser button
  5. Open the website with an image you want to Pin, hover the cursor over the image, and select Pinterest Save (the Pinterest logo with the word Save next to it).

    The Pinterest Save button on an external website
  6. Choose a board and select Save.

    Choose a board and select Save.
  7. If you don't want to install a browser button extension, select the plus sign and then select Create a Pin.

    The "Create a Pin" command on Pinterest
  8. Select Save from site.

    The "Save from site" button on Pinterest
  9. Enter the website URL and select the arrow to continue.

  10. Select an image and then choose Add to Pin.

    Select an image and then choose Add to Pin.
  11. Add a title, select a board from the drop-down menu, then select Save.

    Add a title, select a board from the drop-down arrow, and select Save.

More on Using Pinterest

Pinterest's user interface is clean, easy, and intuitive. Here's how to follow individual boards, navigate your Pinterest account settings, and more.

Follow Individual Boards

Sometimes, you may not want to follow an account, but you like one of its boards. If you want to follow an individual board to see when new Pins are added to it:

  1. Select the Pin that interests you.

    Select the pin that interests you from your home feed
  2. Toward the bottom of the box, select the board title. In this example, it's Whole30.

    A board title on Pinterest
  3. You're taken to the board's page. Select Follow to see new Pins added to this board.

    The Follow button on a Pinterest board

Navigate Your Account Options

Here's how to navigate your account options to handle your Pinterest admin functions easily.

  1. Select the drop-down arrow from the upper-right menu to see more options. You'll go through each of these options in the next several steps to see where each takes you.

    The account dropdown menu on Pinterest
  2. Add another account takes you to a screen where you can create a new Pinterest account and switch between accounts.

    Select Add another account to create a new Pinterest account
  3. Add a free business account helps you set up a business account, so you can run ads, access analytics, and more.

    Select Add a free business account
  4. Settings brings you to a screen where you can edit your account profile, add a photo, change account settings, choose notification settings, see and change privacy settings, turn on two-factor authentication, and more.

    Select Settings to edit your account profile,
  5. Tune your home feed brings you to a screen where you can edit your preferences and interests.

    Select Tune your home feed to edit preferences and interests.
  6. Install the [browser] app allows you to install an app that lets a Pinterest tab run in the background when you're using a Pinterest-optimized browser.

    Select Install the Chrome app so a Pinterest tab will run in the background whenever you're in Chrome.
  7. Get Help brings up the Pinterest Help Center.

    Select Get Help to bring up Pinterest's Help Center.
  8. See terms and privacy brings up the Pinterest privacy policy.

    Select See terms and privacy for Pinterest's privacy policy.
  9. Selecting Log out will log you out of Pinterest.

See Your Pinterest Account Info

Here's how to see your followers, who you're following, and more:

  1. Select your account icon or profile picture, if you set one. When Boards is selected, you'll see your current boards.

    Select your account icon or profile picture,
  2. Under your name, select followers to see any followers and select following to see who you're currently following.

    The "followers" and "following" links on Pinterest
  3. Select the Sort by icon to rearrange your boards.

    The "Sort by" menu on Pinterest
  4. Select the plus sign to create a new Pin or board.

    The "Add Pin/Board" button on Pinterest
  5. Select the Pin tab under your name to see individual Pins.

    Select the Pin tab under your name to see individual Pins.

Message Followers and Friends on Pinterest

Pinterest is a social network, so it's easy to share ideas and thoughts with friends.

  1. Select the speech bubble icon from the upper-right menu bar to message friends.

    The messaging icon on Pinterest
  2. Select a name or search for a name or email.

    Select or search for a name or email
  3. Type a message in the message box at the bottom and select the send icon.

    The send icon on Pinterest

See Notifications

This section is where Pinterest sends you important notifications.

  1. Select the notification icon (looks like a bell).

    The notification icon on Pinterest
  2. You'll see notifications, such as suggestions on boards you may like.

    Your Pinterest notifications.

Download the Pinterest Mobile App

Take Pinterest on the go with its mobile apps for iOS and Android. Here are the basics of getting started with the app, but take time to explore and get to know all its functions.

  1. Download and install the Pinterest app for iOS or Android and select Log in.

  2. Enter your email and password.

    Or log in with your Facebook, Google, or Apple account.

  3. Choose whether to allow Pinterest to send you notifications.

    Setting up the Pinterest app on iOS
  4. With the Home tab on the bottom menu selected, select For You to see Pins based on your interests and who you're following.

  5. Select Today to see trending ideas and topics relevant to your interest.

  6. Select Following to see pins from people and boards you follow.

    For You, Today, and Following tabs in Pinterest for iOS
  7. To search for a subject, image, or person, tap Search from the bottom menu.

  8. Scroll through search ideas or enter a term in the Search box at the top.

  9. You'll see options that match your query to explore or shop.

    Searching for items on Pinterest for iOS
  10. Tap any image you're interested in to display a new screen.

  11. Tap Follow to follow the account.

  12. Tap Save to save the image to a new or existing board.

    Follow an account or Save a pin from search results
  13. Tap Visit to go to the account or product's website.

    If you see the option to View, tap it to go to more Pins like this.

  14. Tap the Send icon in the lower-left corner to send the Pin through social media or directly to a contact.

  15. Tap More (three dots) to Hide, Download, or Report the image.

    The Visit, Share, and More menus for a pin on Pinterest
  • What is a Rich Pin on Pinterest?

    A Rich Pin is a Pin that automatically pulls updated information from your website and displays that content on Pinterest. Rich Pins feature more text, bolded formatting, and must cover products, recipes, articles, or apps. All Pinterest users can create Rich Pins by adding rich meta tags to their websites, validating the meta tags, and applying for approval.

  • What is an impression on Pinterest?

    Impressions are the number of times users saw your Pins or ads. Pinterest organizes your Pins by the most impressions. To view impressions and other analytics, log in to your Pinterest business account and select Analytics > Overview and apply filters by device, date range, and more.

Was this page helpful?