A Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat

On the several occasions I was asked to write a post about how to use Snapchat I was doubtful anyone would want to read it. Snapchat is ...

A Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat

On the several occasions I was asked to write a post about how to use Snapchat I was doubtful anyone would want to read it. Snapchat is pretty easy to use, right? I thought so. Since then I have had to explain several features of the app to bemused friends and I started to realise just how awkward and confusing Snapchat can really be.

The app is actually designed to confuse you, which personally I think is an ingenious way of forcing you to play with it, engage with others and learn from them; although it does, admittedly, make the app difficult to understand.

Here is a simple beginner’s guide to using Snapchat so you can bypass all that confusion and start enjoying app right now.



Initial Set-Up

Download the app, create an account, and add contacts. Pretty simple. Pick a username relevant to how you are going to be using the app; you might want to use your personal name or the name of your blog, business, or brand. Be warned: you cannot change this. If you change your mind later on you’ll have to create a new account. You can, however, change the display name that appears to anyone who adds you - make sure you change yours to make you easily identifiable. Anyone in your phone’s address book who has Snapchat will appear in a list, press the plus sign next to their name to add them to your contacts. You can also add people to your contacts via their Snapchat QR code by holding it up to the camera, hold your finger on the screen and their details should pop up so you can add them. When the little ghost at the top of screen turns yellow that means you have a new follower. Tap on the icon and you can see who it is.



Setting Personal Preferences

At the top of the screen click the ghost, this shows you your QR code, details, and options. Here you can view your display name, username, and Snapchat score. You can also see who added you, add friends, and view a list of your friends. In the top right corner there is a cog icon, click that to manage your settings. In this section you will be able to change your display name, this name helps to identify who you are to other users. You can also manage who can send you snaps and who can see yours, along with notification settings. If you click on additional services you can turn filters on/off and opt for travel mode, which reduces mobile data usage (this is totally recommended - Snapchat is a battery drain.) There is also a ‘friend emojis’ section, which explains what each of the emojis that sometimes appear next to a user's name mean.



Creating Snaps

In the top left corner is a switch for turning the flash on/off and in the right a button for flipping between the front facing and forward facing cameras. By clicking on the big round button at the bottom in the middle you can take a photograph snap and by holding the button you can create a video snap.


A Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat


Adding Text, Emojis, Drawings, and Filters

Snapchat allows users to add short captions to their snaps. One you have taken one, simply tap the screen once and you’ll see a text bar pop up. You can type a few words in there to say something to accompany your snap; tapping on the T (top, middle) will enlarge the text and tapping it again with centre the text. You can also resize this text by pinching or pushing.

Using the pencil icon, you can draw on your snap - photos and videos. Clicking/Sliding on the colour palette will enable you to switch between colours. Tapping the arrow (left of the pencil will undo the last thing you drew.

Clicking on the square icon will allow you to add multiple emojis to your snaps.

Swiping left after taking a snap will allow you to add filters. Keep swiping to view various effects that will change the lighting or add geofilters, which essentially "stamp" the image showing people where you are such a specific city, location, or event. If you access the front-facing camera and then press and hold on your face you are able to access filters, which change your appearance. These change regularly and have become a huge talking point for Snapchat users since they are ridiculously silly and fun to use.



Setting A Time Limit

In the bottom left, you’ll see a clock icon, which shows how long your snap will last for and clicking on it will bring up a menu so you can change the time duration from 1-10 seconds. Videos last a maximum of 10 seconds or for as long as you choose to film. This setting remains at the time limit you used last so remember to check to make sure you're not sending 2 second snaps!



Saving Snaps

Snapchat deletes all snaps once they have been viewed or have expired from a story after 24 hours. If you want to save your snaps, tapping on the download button (middle icon, bottom left) will allow you to do so. This is useful for sharing elsewhere online and show others what you’ve been getting up to on the app.



Sending Snaps

You have three options: send directly to specific people, send to your story, or send to both. Click the arrow (bottom right) when you are ready to send your snap; choose who to send your snap to from the list of contacts, you also have the option here to add this snap to your story. Most people add snaps to their story and only send snaps directly to people if it’s for them specifically or they want to make certain someone sees something.



Creating A Snapchat Story

The story feature of Snapchat is a way to upload snaps to a timeline allowing you to “tell a story” with your snaps. Add photos and videos to this to create a stream of content people can view for up to 24 hours. This is a super useful function and is used by most individuals to share a story of what they have been up to during the day or by businesses to share behind the scenes going-ons.



Viewing Other People’s Snaps

When you are sent a snap directly it will appear on the left screen (swipe right to access it from the main screen.) Tapping once will allow you to view this snap. You can swipe right again to enter the live chat feature and send them a written response. If you swipe left from the main screen you will access ‘recent updates.’ Here you can see the stories of all the contacts you follow. Tapping on their name will allow you to see their stories, tapping on individual snaps will allow you to skip through them and swiping down will exit the story. Double-tapping will bring up the live chat feature so you can respond.


Your Snap Score, Emoji Meanings, and Trophies

Pretty much pointless but your Snapchat score is essentially how many snaps you have sent that have been viewed by others combined with how many snaps you have viewed. Your score is visible underneath your QR code when you tap the ghost on the main screen. Occasionally emojis will pop up next to a user’s name and these all have specific meanings, which you can learn more about in the additional services menu. You can also gain trophies (tap the trophy cup above your QR code) by sending certain types of snaps and at different times.


A Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat


Get Snapchatting

Snapchat works best when you just get stuck in and start adding people, that's when you really get the feel for it and how everything works. Promote your Snapchat online, encourage people to add you, and add people back. Make sure to change your settings so anyone can view your Snapchat story (although I would recommend only allowing friends - people you've added back - to send you snaps.) Screengrab your Snapchat QR code and add it to your blog or website, using the link: snapchat.com/add/yourusernamehere to promote it.

You Might Also Like

0 SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS