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What is Snapchat and How Does it Work



This is a jargon-free, easy to understand explanation that answers the question of the year, “What is Snapchat?”

You’ve likely heard about Snapchat in the news, seen it on your kid’s phone or watched a relative use the app to put funny faces on people at your last get-together.

Snapchat is a free app that people use to send messages called snaps. Users can send photos or videos to people, just like a text or an email. The catch is that the app deletes photos and videos shortly after being viewed.

You can also create a Snapchat Story, which is a collection of snaps that tell a story about your day or an adventure. Snapchat works with friends that you know, and you can also follow people on Snapchat to see their stories.

What is Snapchat, an easy to understand explanation of this popular app.

What is Snapchat, an easy to understand explanation of this popular app.

Snapchat messages are private, while Snapchat Stories are public and viewable by anyone who follows you. No matter which you send, they will self-destruct.

You can draw on photos or videos, use Snapchat lenses to turn yourself into a dog, add a goofy hat and much more.

What is Snapchat?

Now that you have the basics, here’s more on what Snapchat does and what it is.

Snapchat is a messaging app that started in 2011. You can send photos, videos, and text that all disappear after a short period of time. Now you can also use the app to do live video calls and audio calls.

This is Snapchat.

This is Snapchat.

The app gained a reputation for sexting, sending risque videos or photos that disappeared over time, but it’s evolved into a full-blown messaging app.

Snapchat “Snaps” are the photos and videos that you send. These disappear after a short period of time. The person you send one to can replay it, but there are limited options to replay.

Your Snaps are saved to your Snapchat Memories, so you don’t lose them. Other users can take a screenshot of your Snaps or take a picture of a Snap, so there are certainly ways for others to save them as well.

When you replay a Snap or take a screenshot the person who sent the snap is notified.

Who is Using Snapchat?

Snapchat is very popular with teens and young adults, but the app is designed for anyone looking for a fun messaging service.

Obviously, the disappearing nature of the messages make it less useful for business use, but it is catching on with more adults.

A report from 2016 shares that 50% of new Snapchat users in 2016 are over 25, showing a trend towards older users. 85% of the daily users are 13 to 34 years old.

In addition to regular users who rely on Snapchat to send messages and communicate with friends, it is a home for content creators who use the app to offer behind the scenes looks as they work on YouTube channels and other projects.

Why Do People Use Snapchat?

There are many messaging services out there and in the last year we’ve seen Facebook and Instagram copy Snapchat features in an attempt to steal users away.

While there are many reasons that people use Snapchat, it’s popularity is due in part to the popularity. This is a service where millions of users are located and there is a good chance that your friends are there.

It doesn’t matter if your friends are on iPhone or Android, all of the features are the same across Snapchat so group messaging is simple and fun. The Snapchat app includes Bitmoji support which taps into another popular app and service.

Simply put, people use Snapchat because it is fun and includes features that users want.

What are Snapchat Lenses?

One of the most exciting features for many users who pick up the app for the first time are Snapchat Lenses.

The app can detect your face and then put a virtual mask on top of your face. These funny Snapchat masks are actually called lenses and can change your face as well as the world around you.

You can take photos of these to share and you can also record videos with the Snapchat lenses. Once you record them, you can share them to your story, to friends or save them to your memories.

What Do All these Snapchat Terms Mean?

When you start using Snapchat or talking to someone about the service. You will hear a lot of Snapchat jargon and Snapchat terms. Here’s what they mean in the real world.

Snaps: A snap is a photo, video or text message sent with Snapchat. Videos are limited to 10 seconds and these disappear soon after playing.

Snapchat Emoji: You will see or hear about Snapchat Emoji when using the app. These appear next to users in chat and unlock when you go on streaks or message people more than others. More on what Snapchat emoji mean.

Snapchat Streaks: When you start sending Snaps to someone you can go on a streak by sending back and forth.

Snapcode: A Snapcode is a small box that includes your photo and some special markings that allow people to follow you by pointing their Snapchat camera at it.

Snapchat Score: You’ll see a Snapchat score that grows as you share more Snaps, get Snaps, add to you story and more. You can see your score below your Snapcode and see friend’s scores by holding on their name in your contact list.

Snapchat Story: This is a public Snap, or collection of Snaps over 24 hours, that you share with people who follow you.

Snapchat Friends: Snapchat allows other users to follow you as a friend, even if you don’t add them as a friend. This allows you to send messages to more people by posting to your story, without actually sending messages to people individually.

Snapchat Filters: Similar to Instagram filters, these allow you to change the look of your photo or video as well as speed up or slow down a video and overlay text on top of a Snap, based on your location. More on how to use Snapchat filters.

How Does Snapchat Work

If you download the Snapchat app and try to use it, you may wonder how the heck does the Snapchat app work. It’s a very simplistic app, and it can be confusing to use when you open it up for the first time.


When you open the Snapchat app, you’ll find the camera as your main screen. You can take a photo with the front-facing camera or with the rear facing camera.

Tap the camera button to take a photo and hold it to start recording video. You can also upload photos from your camera roll to Snapchat.

Tap on your face or another person’s face to use a Snapchat lens. You’ll see a quick white wireframe show up over your face. Then you can tap on the circles to the right of the camera button to put a digital mask over your face.

After you take a photo or video, you can then tap on the edit options in the upper right to add Bitmoji, text or draw on your photos.

Swipe left or right on the photo to add a filter that changes the look of your photo or adds a filter based on your speed, location or temperature.

Add filters and Bitmoji to your Snap.

Add filters and Bitmoji to your Snap.

You can hold down and then swipe with another finger to add another filter.

Tap on the 3 in the bottom left to change how long your photo displays, tap the down arrow to save to your memories and the plus to add to a shared story or your story.

Choose who to share your Snap with.

Choose who to share your Snap with.

Tap on the arrow to the right to choose who you want to share this with. You can share it with your story, with many people or any combination you want. Typically you don’t send the Snap as a direct message to everyone you know as that is what the story is for.



  1. Layila

    03/25/2017 at 8:35 am

    When I put my login it says that the connection is lost please try again

  2. kelly

    04/26/2017 at 6:01 am

    I am just so close to snapchat.

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