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What is Snapchat and how do you use it?

Lynn Wright / 15 March 2016

Start snapping your friends and family with our guide to getting started on Snapchat.

Phone with the Snapchat app
Snapchat is a fun app to use whatever your age

What is Snapchat?

You may have heard about Snapchat from your children or grandchildren. It’s a mobile messaging app that you use on your mobile and tablet to share photos, videos, text, and drawings. The app is free to download and it’s free to send messages using it. 

Snapchat’s popularity stems from the fact that the messages you send disappear a few seconds after your recipient views them.

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What’s the point of Snapchat?

Hugely popular with young people, Snapchat is a fun app to use whatever your age. 

Apart from its obvious appeal for sexting, Snapchat’s success lies with ability to quickly share moments with your close friends. It’s easy to snap a picture or a video at any moment of the day and instantly post it for your friends to see. 

As each snap disappears in seconds, there’s no pressure to take polished photos or compose posts, making Snapchat an easy way to share your immediate thoughts and emotions.

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How do I use Snapchat?

To join in on the fun, download the Snapchat app and sign up for an account. You can allow Snapchat to add phone numbers from your Contacts list or add the people you want to message manually.

Snapchat automatically opens your phone’s camera when launched so you can quickly take a shot. Tap on the screen to adjust the camera’s focus. Tapping the camera icon in the upper-right corner switches to the front camera for selfies.

Tap the circle at the bottom of the screen to take a photo or tap and hold to record a video up to 10 seconds in length.

You can jazz up photos with captions and doodles or use one of Snapchat’s built-in filters to add a cool effects or time and location details. You can then choose to save a snap before sending.

To view your contacts list, tap the the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner. 

Choose your recipients – there’s no limit to how many people you can send a snap to – and tap send.

To view messages sent by your friends, press and hold the snap you want to look at. When you let go, the snap will disappear.

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What else does Shapchat do?

Snapchat Stories are another fun way to show what you or your friends have been up to during the day. 

A Story is a compilation of snaps – photos and video – that are posted to a person’s feed over the course of a day. Each snap in a Story disappears after 24 hours but can be viewed multiple times before they disappear. 

You can also use Snapchat to have real-time video chats or text message conversations.

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Where can I get Snapchat?

Snapchat is available for iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets. You can download it from the app store on your phone or mobile device. Find out more at

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.