What is Snapchat and How Does it Work?

Ever wondered about marking the special moments in your everyday life. Do you enjoy keeping track of your friends living in various interesting scenarios?

Previously, capturing a precious moment required a person to have the specific tool to take pictures like a video camera or a simple camera. You must have noticed your parents carrying a photo album with baby pictures or memories that are precious to them. 

However, sharing these pictures was quite a hassle. But now, capturing a live moment is a piece of cake – all you need is a phone with a camera and any social media application that can help you to share these moments not just with your loved ones but also with hundreds of people worldwide.

Social media applications were created to quench a simple and basic human desire, which is the need to connect with others or to be a part of a group. Now, technology and the internet have taken a step forward so that we can share our memories and moments with anyone anywhere in the world, anytime.

There are many social media applications available that can help us share our daily life memories and Snapchat is such an application. If you are a teen, you might probably know very well about this application but if you have no idea how this application works, then you are probably too old.

This article will help you find more about Snapchat and its features.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a messaging application that can be downloaded on your mobile phone which can be used to share photos, videos, text, etc. You can download Snapchat for free from your mobile phone’s Apple App Store or Android Play Store. 

It was an application that became quite famous in a short amount of time especially with the younger generation who is well-versed with the use of technology. This is due to some of the features that Snapchat offers like the ability to share photos and videos (called snaps) with others that would disappear after a time limit or the ability to add drawings and stickers to the pictures that you want to share.

It is said to be a “new type of camera” as it can add filters or other effects to the pictures that you take from your phone.

How does Snapchat work?

To sign up for Snapchat, all you need to do is create a free account by signing up with your name, email address, and birth date. Usually, Snapchat users use a silly or a fake name for a username while signing up on Snapchat.

But remember according to the terms of service of Snapchat, you need to be at least 13 or above to create a Snapchat account. To add friends to your Snapchat, you can upload your contacts or search for people you know. You can also automatically add someone by using a Snapcode, which is a special QR code that is unique to each user.

To begin your Snapchat, you start by taking a picture and then using the photo editing and filters tools provided. Once you have customized your snap, you can then send it to your friends or you can add it to your story which can be viewed by your friends for 24 hrs.

Group texting and group stories are also other types of features offered by Snapchat where everyone belonging to one group can contribute.

In addition to connecting with the people that you know, Snapchat offers a lot of features like games, news, entertainment, quizzes, and many different types of photo-editing features which are quite complicated to understand, another reason why it is not so favored among the older generations.

What are some of Snapchat’s dialects?

Like every other app popular with this generation, Snapchat also has its own lingo that resonates with its users. Knowing these terms will make it infinitely easier for you to navigate through the app and its various interesting features.

  1. Snapchatter: a term that is used to refer to a Snapchat user.
  1. Snap: a photo or a video taken in Snapchat is referred to as Snaps.
  1. Snapback: it’s a term used when you reply to a snap of your friends.
  1. Stories: When you link snaps together, or take a video using the capture button and broadcast it on your Snapchat, it will be available as stories for your friends to view.
  1. Snapcode: a unique QR code that is available for each user. You can scan this code and add a person as your friend to your Snapchat.
  1. Trophy case: Snapchat will notify you if you have achieved a trophy for any mission you have to finish. For example, uploading 50 snaps in your Snap Profile gets you a quirky trophy. You will be able to view the trophy case with your trophies on your Profile Screen.
  1. Lens: Want to make your snaps more fun!? Snapchat offers a feature called Lens. This feature will let you introduce reality-based special effects and sounds into your snaps. To activate lenses:
    1. Go to your “Camera Screen” (we will learn about this screen later)
    2. Long-press on your face on the “Camera Screen“.
    3. Lenses feature will appear next to the “Capture” button.
  1. Snapstreak: On your Chat screen, you will be able to view an emoji next to your friend’s character. This means that you and your friend or friends shared your snaps for more than two consecutive days.
  1. Filters: To spice up your snaps, you can add filters to them. You can also add different featured like colored filters, current time, location, etc.
  1. Bitmoji: It is an application that can be downloaded from your App Store or Play Store. It helps you create an avatar when this account is linked with your Snapchat account. Then, you will be able to view your avatar on your Snapchat too.

What are some popular Snapchat’s features?

Snapchat is one of the apps that has got quite complicated features to understand, so let’s go through the features that Snapchat offers us one by one:

  1. Camera Screen: When you open up the “Snapchat” app, you will be able to view what the phone camera is able to view. This screen is called the “camera screen“. Below the screen, you will be able to view a capture button that helps you capture your snaps. 

You can then edit your pictures using photo editing tools. If you hold and press the capture button, then it will take a small 10 seconds video. If you keep pressing for intervals longer than 10 seconds, then it will take multiple snaps.

  1. Snap-Map Screen: When you pinch outward as if to zoom out on the “camera screen“, you will be able to view your location on a live map – this is called the snap screen. If your snap account is linked to your Bitmoji account, then you will see your Bitmoji avatar on the map. 

If you want to be invisible, then go to the “settings” icon and choose the option “ghost mode” to turn invisible on the map.

  1. Memories Screen: Near the “capture” button, you will see an icon for the “memories screen“. It is the place where you store snaps not only in Snapchat but also in the local photos folder of the phone.

  1. Chat Screen: When you swipe left to right from the “camera screen“, you will be able to view your chat screen where your active chats are visible. In this section, you can have one-to-one chat or a group chat.

If you long-press on your friend’s id in this section, you will be able to view their Snapcode, Snapstreak, and other chat features.

  1. Discover Screen: When you swipe right to left from the “camera screen“, you will be able to view the “discover screen“. Here you will be able to view news information and snaps or stories from people using Snapchat.

To view a story from a publisher, you can simply tap on the publisher’s thumbnail.

  1. Stories: As previously mentioned in the “discoveries screen“, you will be able to view Snapchat stories of your friends. These stories are available for 24hrs and then it is deleted from their Snapchat.

  1. Search Screen: On top of the “camera screen” you will be able to view the “search” button. Here you can search for other users by their Snapchat name.
  1. Profile Screen: From most screens, you will see a “ghost” icon or an icon with your Bitmoji avatar. When you click on it, you will be able to view your details like Snapcode, Snapstreak, options for your trophy case, etc. You will also be able to find additional settings here.
  1. Settings Screen: There’s a gear icon on your “profile screen“. When you click on it, you will be able to access your Snapchat account settings like changing your password or phone number, creating or scanning a Snapcode, etc.


Although this article provides you a guide on how Snapchat works with its features, the look and design may vary as they are subject to changes due to updates.

However, as you’ve reached the end, you have successfully understood the basic working of one of the most popular apps used for everyday interaction – start creating!

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