Snapchat: Everything You Want To Know But Are Too Afraid To Ask

(Image credit: Photothek via Getty Images)

Snapchat. It's the final frontier in the brave new world of social media - for now, at least. You might have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram down pat, but, if you've recently joined the ranks of the 150 million people who use Snapchat each day, you're probably feeling a tad befuddled by its mystifying interface, much like everyone else over the age of 21. Don't worry. With practice, and a little help from us, your nearest and dearest will soon be enjoying a deluge of adorable Snaps of you sporting flowered garlands and puppy ears. Isn't it all a young person's game, though? Not according to the latest statistics. Over-35s are now the fastest growing cohort of Snapchatters, making up 30% of the app's UK users. Find out how to get started with our foolproof guide to using Snapchat...

How much does Snapchat cost?

Absolutely nothing! Snapchat is a free download available from the Apple and Android app stores.

Is Snapchat a noun or a verb?

Both! An image or video created or sent through the app is called a Snapchat (often abbreviated to Snap), whilst Snapchatting is the action of sharing said images and videos.

How do you navigate the Snapchat app?

This is actually easier than it looks. The disconcerting absence of menu buttons and helpful instructions (and the presence of a few which cause more confusion than they resolve) has many a newbie tearing their hair out in frustration. However, it's really just a matter of swiping up, down, right and left until you get to where you want to be. From the capture (or camera screen), swipe up for Memories (where you can find saved Snaps and images from your phone's camera roll), down to access your profile page, right to see recent chats, and left for updates from people you follow (swiping left a second time will take you to the ‘Discover' screen, which features stories from Snapchat's media partners, including the likes of Buzzfeed, Mashable, Sky Sports and National Geographic). Swiping down also acts a sort of ‘back' or ‘exit' button, returning you to the previous screen.

What do all the icons on my Snapchat profile page mean?

Your profile page is the one with the ghost on the yellow background. Tap the ghost icon to take a series of selfies which will be combined to make an animated profile picture (N.B. this is strictly optional!). Tap your name to edit how it will appear to others who might search for you on the app. Tap the cog in the top right hand corner to alter other settings. The number next to your username is your Snapchat ‘score'. The more you Snap, the higher your score. You'll also be awarded trophies, which you can view by tapping the trophy icon above your profile picture. Don't worry too much about scores or trophies; they might well make or break your tweenager's social standing, but they're essentially pointless.

How do I find my friends on Snapchat?

Tap the Search bar at the top of the capture screen and you'll find a list of people in your phone's contacts list using Snapchat. Click the ‘Add' button next to their name to follow them. You can also search for a particular contact by typing their name into the Search bar. Alternatively, navigate to your profile page and tap 'Add Friends'. If your friend isn't in your phone's contact list, you can search for them by name or username, instead. They'll then appear on the 'My Friends' list accessed from your profile page, accompanied by an icon which signifies the status of your Snapchat friendship with them. To begin with, you'll see a baby next to their name, which signifies a brand new friendship. Don't worry too much about this; it comes under the "cute but completely irrelevant to the casual user" category.

See your friends' most recent updates by swiping left until you reach the ‘Stories' screen. Tap a name under ‘Recent Updates' to see the latest instalment in their Snapchat Story. You can also chat to a friend via text, voice or video call (over WiFi) on the Chats screen. Swipe right on any name to start a conversation (unfortunately, Snapchat doesn't currently offer a group chat option).

Can I follow celebrities on Snapchat?

Yes! You can add celebrity Snapchatters to your Friends list by typing their name or username into the Search bar or tapping ‘Add Friends' on your profile page, followed by ‘Add by Username'. We suggest adding Madonna (Snapchat username: madonna), Kate Hudson (Snapchat username: khudsnaps) and Eva Longoria (Snapchat username: realevalongoria) for starters.

How do I take a picture on Snapchat?

Navigate to the capture screen. The big round circle at the bottom of the screen? That's the shutter button. Switch to selfie mode by tapping the face/arrow icon in the top right corner. Tap it again to switch back to standard mode.

How do I take a video on Snapchat?

Press and hold the big round button for up to 10 seconds to record a video.

Why don't my Snapchat videos have sound?

Snapchat won't record videos with sound if your phone is in silent mode.

How do I edit my Snapchats?

Once you've taken your photo or video, you can edit your Snapchats before saving or sending them. Tap the 'T' icon in the top right hand corner to add text. Tap it again to make your text big, white and bold. You can them move it around the screen, using your fingers to twist it or change its size. Tap the sticker button (the one that looks like a Post-It) to add a sticker. Go for a classic emoji, or create your own ‘Bitmoji' using a free app which can be linked to Snapchat. Your Bitmoji is your cartoon doppelgänger. Once she's ready, she'll pop up in numerous amusing guises (accepting her first Oscar, wielding an oversized heart-shaped balloon or manning a kissing booth, for example) whenever you access the sticker menu. Stickers can be moved, twisted and resized with your fingers, just like text. You can also create your own sticker from an image you've taken using the scissor icon. Use the pen icon to draw or write on your Snap (don't worry, there's an ‘undo' button, just in case your masterpiece doesn't quite turn out as you'd pictured it).

Swipe right or left to add filters. You can add the location, time, temperature or even speed at which you were travelling, or change an image or video's colour cast, making it lighter, darker, warmer, cooler or black and white. Videos can be sped up, slowed down or reversed. You can add two filters at once by holding your thumb on the screen after selecting the first, then swiping with another finger to choose a second.

If you've Snapped a still image, you can tap the circled number in the bottom left corner to choose how long your snap will be visible for (in seconds) when others view it. Experienced users recommend keeping things short but sweet.

What is a Snapchat Lens and how do I take a Snap of myself with puppy ears?

This is what you really want to know, isn't it? Filters are all well and good, but they can't touch up your lippy or transform you into a cute woodland creature, can they? A Lens allows you to take a picture or video of yourself using a filter which maps to (and moves with) your own face. The puppy face is a perennial favourite amongst long-term Snapchatters, but new Lenses are released each day. From the capture screen, ensure your camera is in selfie mode (i.e. your own beautiful face is staring back at you). Tap and hold your finger on your onscreen image until a matrix-style grid appears on your face. You can now scroll through the Lenses at your disposal by dragging the small circles to the right of the big circle (or shutter button) into the big circle. Once you've found your winner, simply tap the big circle to take a still picture, or press and hold to capture a video, as usual.

Some Lenses can Snap two people at once. Turn your phone sideways so your companion can get in on the act. The most (in)famous of these is Face Swap. It's the very last Lens you'll find as you scroll through the selection, and you can try it with a friend, or with any image on your camera's photo roll.

What do I do with my Snaps?

Once you've finished editing it, you can add a Snap to your Story by tapping the ‘Story' button at the bottom left of the screen. Alternatively, hit the blue arrow button in the bottom right corner. From here you can choose to add a Snap to your Story and/or to selected users in your Friends list. Not ready to hit ‘Send'? Tap the ‘Save' button to send it to Memories.

What is a Snapchat Story?

Your Story is a compilation of all the images or videos you've saved to ‘My Story' within the past 24 hours. You can see your own Story, as well as your friends' Stories, on the Stories screen. Tap the cog icon to the right of ‘My Story' to change who can see your Story.

Who can see my Snaps on Snapchat?

By default, only those on your Friends list will see your Snaps, and only then if you send a Snap to them or add it to your Story. However, you can customise your privacy settings by tapping the cog icon to the right of ‘My Story' on the Stories screen. You can allow your Story to be visible to everyone, or block certain friends or contacts from seeing it.

Can I use photos and videos I've already taken on Snapchat?

Yes, you can edit and send any image or video stored on your phone's camera roll on Snapchat. Navigate to the Memories screen and tap ‘Camera Roll'. Tap the ‘tick' icon in the top right corner and select the images or videos you wish to share. If you wish to edit or filter them first, don't tap the ‘tick' button; simply tap the image or video you wish to use, then swipe up. Pressing the ‘pen' icon at the bottom left of the image will open up the editing interface. Once you're ready, you can share your Snaps as normal, via the blue arrow button. You can also edit and share Snaps previously stored in Memories. Simply tap ‘Snaps', select your chosen image or video and swipe up to edit and send. The Memories screen can also be accessed by tapping the smaller circle under the shutter button on the capture screen.

Can I save my Snaps?

Yes, you can save Snaps by pressing the ‘Save' button (denoted by a downward arrow) on the edit screen. This will save your Snap to Memories. You can then save a Snap to your phone's camera roll by selecting it, swiping up, tapping the upward arrow button and selecting 'Save Image'. You can also save your entire Story by tapping the downward arrow icon. Remember, if you don't, your Snaps will disappear after 24 hours.