How to Use TikTok

What to know about this popular video app

TikTok, formally known as Musical.ly, is a short-form video sharing platform that allows users to create short video content quickly. From lip-synching an Adele song to storytimes about life, the videos range from silly to tear-jerking and everywhere in between. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, here's how to use TikTok, including how to create videos and manage your privacy settings.

TikTok: A Brief History

TikTok started as Musical.ly, a well-known app where users would upload videos of them lip-synching to various tunes and sound effects. In 2018, a Chinese company named ByteDance acquired the app and merged it with its existing lip-synch app, Douyin.

As a result, the company released the app as TikTok in August of 2018. And in only a month, TikTok became the most downloaded app for mobile devices. Now, it continues to be one of the top video sharing platforms available for download on both iOS and Android.

How Does TikTok Work?

The basis of TikTok is simple. Users create an account and can immediately begin creating videos inside the app with a wide range of filters and tools. As soon as they're done, they can share their video immediately to the platform. TikTok also allows users to upload videos created from another source and saved to the device or to live stream from within the app.

TikTok allows you to create videos that are 15 seconds or 60 seconds long. You can also create unique photo collages and slideshows using the Photo Templates tool inside the app. Some of the other features inside TikTok include:

  • Fun special effects: Want to be on the cover of a newspaper? Want to live as a cat for a day? These are only two of the hundreds of available special effects you can use to create unique TikTok videos.
  • Sounds and music: You can create a video using a favorite movie quote or lip-synch to your favorite song. TikTok offers users thousands of sound effects, songs, and more to add to any video.
  • Filters: TikTok also offers users a wide range of filters to choose from, reminiscent of Instagram.

TikTok Challenges

Another popular past-time on the TikTok app is creating challenge videos. These challenges are found using TikTok hashtags. Users try their hand at a challenge and share their video with the world complete with the corresponding hashtag.

For example, the Haribo Challenge videos feature gummy bears singing Adele's "Someone Like You." Or, you might be familiar with the Old Town Road Challenge, which features users riding horses while "Old Town Road" plays in the background.

Whatever's trending on TikTok, you can expect to see it on the Discover section of the app. Plus, you can even find your favorite celebrities hanging out and making videos of their day-to-day lives.

How to Change Your TikTok Username

A unique username is a must-have on TikTok.

  1. Tap the profile icon on the bottom of your screen.

  2. Tap Edit profile to go to your profile settings.

    You can also change your profile photo here as well as your bio. You can also connect your Instagram and YouTube accounts.

  3. Tap Name and delete the placeholder. Then, add in your new username and tap Save.

    Screenshots of TikTok settings.

How to Change TikTok Privacy Settings

Although TikTok is considered safe, it's always important to protect yourself online. To change your TikTok privacy settings, follow these simple steps.

  1. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.

  2. Next, tap the three dots in the upper right corner of your screen to access your account settings.

  3. Tap Privacy and safety.

  4. Tap Everyone, Friends, or Off. For example, if you don't want users creating duets, or react videos, using your videos, you can turn that option off.

  5. Once you're done, simply tap the back icon to return to your profile.

    Screenshots of TikTok User Privacy Settings.

How to Check Your TikTok Notifications

As you post videos and move about the app, you're sure to gain followers. To check your notifications, start a the home screen, then tap Inbox. On the following screen, you'll see a list of people who have followed you in the past, as well as any direct messages that come from new followers or friends.