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20 things every new Snapchat user should know

Go from total newbie to Snapchat superstar in no time with these awesome tips.

So, you've decided to jump into the crazy filter carnival that is Snapchat? Don't feel bad that you're just now getting started. Here are 20 awesome tips to get you up to speed in a hurry. 


My Snapcode.

Alina Bradford/CNET

1. You have a Snapcode

That little ghost icon with your photo in it can be shared to get new followers. It's called a Snapcode. Just have a friend take a snap of your Snapcode icon and the app will give them the option to add you.

2. Snapcodes can send people to your site

You can also customize a Snapcode for your website, Facebook page or anything else. Tap the ghost icon in the upper left of the camera screen, then go to Settings > Snapcode > Create Snapcode. Add the address to your website and tap Create. The app will create an icon that will link directly to your site.


Snapcode screen.

Alina Bradford/CNET

3. You can see if people are stealing your pics

Social media is a shady place where people take screenshots of your photos and then share them with others or save them on their phones. Snapchat lets you know when someone is being sneaky, though. Tap on the three dots icon beside your Story on the Stories screen. An icon with an arrow beside it lets you know if someone took a screenshot. Snapchat will also send you a notification as soon as it happens.


Snapchat screenshot notification. 

Alina Bradford/CNET

4. There's a way to get around it, though

By putting your phone into airplane mode you can screenshot photos without Snapchat sending up the alarm. Just log out before turning airplane mode back on.

5. You can make stickers

You can make stickers out of your friends' faces and then add them to your snaps. Take a photo, then tap on the scissors icon on the upper left side of the screen. Outline their head with your finger. The sticker will form and automatically save.

To use a sticker, take a photo, tap on the icon on the right that looks like a notepad and choose your sticker by tapping on it. You can drag the sticker to wherever you want it on the image.

Pro tip: If you make a circle around the person's face and then fill in their face without lifting your finger, it makes the edges of your sticker much smoother and neater.


Snapchat stickers.

Alina Bradford/CNET

6. All those emojis beside your friends' names mean something

When you go to the chat section of Snapchat, you may have noticed emojis by each of your friends' names. Those aren't there by accident. Here's what all those Snapchat emojis mean

7. Collaborate with your friends

Have a Snapchat Story party with your friends. To get started, swipe right from the camera screen and tap on the + icon in the upper right. Then, name your Story and tap Who can add? From there, choose which of your friends can participate. Toggle on Geofence if you want your friends to add to the Story only when they're nearby. When you're done, click Create Story. The Story disappears in 24 hours unless others add to it.


Snapchat Stories. 

Alina Bradford/CNET

8. Add filters to jazz up your snaps

You probably already know you can snap pictures and videos of yourself and friends as puppies, pretty ladies and bunnies. These are called lenses. You can also add filters to photos and videos. Turn on this ability by tapping the ghost icon in the upper left of the camera screen, then go to Settings > Additional Services and tap the box by Filters. Now, just swipe right or left after you take a photo or video to add some preset filters.

9. Don't miss out on hidden filters

If you turn on your location, you can access extra filters that are specific to your region called geofilters. When you turn on your filters capability, you'll then be prompted to turn on your location. Just tap Enable Location and you're good to go.


A Snapchat lens with a geofilter.

Alina Bradford/CNET

One of Snapchat's newer features is the ability to add artwork to your snaps using location. If you are in these certain areas, you can add the artwork of Jeff Koons to your snaps. It looks like new artists and locations may be coming soon, too.


Art geofilter in Paris, France.


10. You can make your own filters, too

Don't see a filter you like? You can create an on-demand geofilter for a wedding, graduation, birthday or whatever using these custom filter making directions. The filter will work for anyone on Snapchat within a certain designated area.

11. Use lenses in video chat

To start the craziest video chat you've ever had, swipe left from the camera screen, tap on a friend, then tap on the video camera icon. From there, your friends will be able to watch or join your chat. To add lenses, tap on your face. The lens options will pop up and you can start being silly.

12. Let the world know it's your birthday

Tap the ghost icon in the upper left of the camera screen, then go to Settings > Birthday and tap the box next to Birthday Party. On your birthday, a birthday cake will be displayed by your name so everyone will know it's your special day.

13. Time your snaps

After you take a photo, there is a little clock icon on the right. Tap on it and you can set how long a person can look at the snap in your Stories.


You can time how long someone can look at your snaps.

Alina Bradford/CNET

14. Send money to your pals

Tap the ghost icon in the upper left of the camera screen, then go to Settings > Snapcash to send money to your friends through Square. Just tap the I Agree button and follow the on-screen directions.


Snapcash screen.

Alina Bradford/CNET

15. Save your Story to make Memories

You can save your entire Story to Memories, which is where you can access all your saved photos and videos. To save your Story, tap the download icon next to your Story on the Stories screen. To find your Memories quickly, swipe up on the camera screen.


Snapchat Memories.

Alina Bradford/CNET

16. Then do things with the Memories 

You can edit and send your Memories to others or post them to your Stories by tapping on the snap and then tapping on the Edit & Send option at the bottom of the screen.

17. Record Multi-Snaps 

With the Snap Map you can find your friends and see what they're up to.


A Multi-Snap is a recording that lasts 10 seconds. All you do is hold down the photo button and the app will take up to six 10-second recordings, depending on how long you hold down the button. You can choose which one you like and discard the rest, or you can choose to post them all. You can also decorate each one using the editing tools.

18. Take a look at your Snap Map

With Snap Map, you can see where your friends are and what they're doing. Go to the camera screen and slide your thumb and index finger together on the screen like you're trying to zoom out. The map options will pop up.

First, choose who can see you on the map. You can pick from Only Me, My Friends and Select Friends, which lets you choose which specific friends can see you.

When you add a snap to Our Story your avatar will share the snaps on the map. When your friends share, their snaps pop up on the map, too. Just tap on your friend's avatar to see what they shared.

No matter if you share or not, your avatar will show up on the map in the last location you opened the Snapchat app. Each time you open the app, the location updates.

19. Add tints to areas of your photos

Ever want to change the color of just one area of your photo? Like give yourself a new hair color or change your friend into a Smurf? With the Tint Brush you can.

Tap on the Scissor icon and then tap the Brush Icon. Choose a color from the palette, then circle whatever you want to tint with your finger. Bam! The brush will tint whatever you circled.

Pro tip: You can also use the Tint Brush to make certain parts of your photo black-and-white. Just choose white from the palette to get the cool effect.


With the tint brush you can make parts of your image black-and-white to make certain areas pop.

Alina Bradford/CNET

20. Add an artistic filter

In addition to the funny lenses you can add to snaps, you can also add artistic filters. Take a regular photo, then tap on the Brush icon under the Paperclip icon. A bunch of paintings will appear at the bottom of the screen. Tap on one you like. Your photo will then be filtered to look like the painting.


Make your snaps look like paintings!

Alina Bradford/CNET

Editors' note: This article was originally published June 1 and has been updated with new tips.