How to take photos (selfies!) and videos with Snapchat

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Snapchat is all about snaps, and that means photos, selfies, and more!

Alright, you’ve signed up for Snapchat and proven you’re not a robot — great work! You should now be seeing a live camera view with a bit of instruction on how to take a photo or record a video, and several icons surrounding the frame.

How Snapchat’s top toolbar works

Let’s start with the toolbar at the top. It includes three buttons: flash, menu, and the camera switch.

  • Flash: Tapping this button turns on or off the flash, whether that be from your phone screen (for a selfie) or the actual flash on the back of your phone. (Hint: If a crescent moon appears next to the flash, that means you’re taking a photo in a particularly low-light situation. Tap the moon to turn on low-light mode — it’ll brighten up your photo.)
  • Menu: Tapping this button takes you to the main menu in Snapchat where you can add new friends, adjust settings, and share your Snapcode (more on that later).
  • Camera switch: Tapping this button toggles between the front-facing camera and the back-facing, iSight camera.

How Snapchat’s bottom toolbar works

At the bottom there are two buttons with a giant shutter button between them.

  • Left button: Tapping this button takes you to a list of your Snapchat messages.
  • Shutter button: Tapping this button takes a photo.
  • Right button: Tapping this button takes you to a list of Snapchat Stories and Snapchat’s Discover feature (more on both of these later).

And that sums things up. Snapchat’s main screen is essentially a hub for all your snapping activities, with a focus on, well, snapping photos. You open up the app, and it’s ready to take a photo. It only requires a few taps or swipes to access other menus and settings within the app.

How to Take Photos (Mostly Selfies) on Snapchat

When it comes to taking and sending photos, you can keep things simple, or you can get creative.

  1. Tap the camera switch to toggle between selfie and photo mode.
  2. Line up your photo (you look great, by the way!)
  3. Tap to set exposure and focus
  4. Tap the shutter button to take the shot.

Once you’ve snapped the photo, there’s a few things you can do:

  1. Tap the Delete button (looks like an X at the top left) to discard a snap if you don’t like it.
  2. Tap anywhere in the middle of the screen to add a caption — throw in some emojis if you’d like. (You can tap and drag the caption box to change its position on screen.)
  3. Tap the stopwatch icon at the bottom of the screen to choose how long it takes for your photo to disappear, from one to 10 seconds.
  4. Tap the downward arrow to the left of the stopwatch to save your photo to your camera roll.

To share your snap:

  1. Tap the arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen and choose to whom you’ll be sending your photo.
  2. Tap on the names to select one person, or multiple people.
  3. Tap that arrow one more time and your photo’s on its way.

How to take videos on Snapchat

Capturing video on Snapchat works a lot like taking photos. Instead of tapping the shutter button, however, you hold it down.

  1. Tap the camera switch to toggle between selfie and photo mode.
  2. Line up your video (great scene!).
  3. Tap to set exposure and focus
  4. Tap the shutter button to start the video.

You’ve got ten seconds to shoot your footage. You can monitor your time limit by keeping an eye on the shutter button — the circle fills up as time runs out.

Snapchat will play your video on loop so you can see if you like what you shot. Once you’ve got your video, you have several options:

  1. Tap the Delete button (looks like an X at the top left) to discard a snap if you don’t like it.
  2. Tap the Speaker icon at the bottom left if you want to include audio in your snap.
  3. Tap anywhere in the middle of the screen to add a caption — throw in some emojis if you’d like. (You can tap and drag the caption box to change its position on screen.)
  4. Tap the stopwatch icon at the bottom of the screen to choose how long it takes for your video to disappear, from one to 10 seconds.
  5. Tap the downward arrow to the left of the stopwatch to save your video to your camera roll.

Sending works the same as photos:

  1. Tap the arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen and choose to whom you’ll be sending your photo.
  2. Tap on the names to select one person, or multiple people.
  3. Tap that arrow one more time and your photo’s on its way.

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