Snapchat has a simple core concept—sharing photos and videos privately. The app lets you take images and send them to friends, but once the clips have been viewed, they disappear rather than hanging around on the internet forever. This has struck a chord with today’s internet-savvy users, leading social media giants like Instagram and Facebook to copy Snapchat’s features. However, in the six years since its creation, Snapchat’s developers have added a ton of extra functionality while keeping the app clean and easy to use. Here, we’ll guide you through five of these more advanced tricks.
1. Upload any photo
When Snapchat first appeared in 2011, it only let you share images that you captured through the app. Today, it’s added the option to send any picture stored on your phone. This lets you dig up and share older memories.
To post a saved photo or video, open the camera screen and tap the small circle under the main shutter button. This will open the app’s Memories section. Swipe to reach the Camera Roll tab, then select a photo or video and tap Edit & Send. You can add the usual Snapchat edits before sending the finished product straight to your friends or posting it to your Story.
And that’s not all that the Memories feature can do. It also lets you save all of the Snaps you’ve sent (but not those you’ve received) for future browsing and reposting. From the camera screen, tap the ghost icon on the top left and then hit the cog icon on the top right. Choose Memories to configure how it will save your Snaps to your phone in the future.
2. Combine Bitmoji with augmented reality
One of the best Snapchat add-ons, also available as a separate app, is Bitmoji (free for Android and iOS). It gives you a customizable cartoon avatar within the world of Snapchat and unlocks a whole new set of stickers to put on top of your Snaps. For example, you can share your little Bitmoji stand-in waking up, heading to bed, giving your friend a birthday cake, and so on.
To create and customize a Bitmoji, open the camera screen and tap the ghost icon on the top left, then choose the Create Bitmoji option. If you haven’t already installed the app, Snapchat will prompt you to download it. Once you do, you can set the appearance of your Bitmoji character, from hair color and style to the type of footwear (you can also change this later).
After you’ve taken a Snap, drop in Bitmoji stickers by tapping the sticker button (the third from the top) and then the Bitmoji face (third from the left). You can even take advantage of Snapchat’s new augmented reality overlays: Tap the camera screen before you take a photo, and choose your Bitmoji from the lens filters on the right.
3. Map your friends
The recently introduced Snap Map lets you see where your friends are on—as the name would suggest—a map. It even indicates whether they’re on the move, based on the GPS signal reported by their phone. When you access this feature, you’ll see your friends represented by a blob or their Bitmoji. A car appears around this symbol if Snapchat detects that they’re moving fast, and an airplane does the same if they’re currently at an airport.
To find the Map, open the camera window screen and pinch in with two fingers on the spot where you normally take your Snaps. Then app will take you through a quick setup process. If you’d prefer not to share your location, you can opt out: Tap the cog icon on the top right, and you can enable Ghost Mode, where you get to see your friends’ locations but they can’t see yours. From the same screen, you can share your location with just a few friends rather than all of them.
Snapchat will only make your location accessible to people with whom you’ve already connected. However, if you’re still uncomfortable with the Map feature, you can avoid using it entirely: Just don’t complete the setup process in the first place.
4. Apply multiple filters
Snapchat isn’t the most intuitive app out there, so it may take some time to recognize and learn to use some of its features. The option to add multiple filters to a photo is a good example. Adding a single filter to a Snapchat photo is easy enough—you just capture an image and then swipe to the left or right on the screen. Here’s how you one-up yourself by adding another filter on top of it.
Once you’ve applied your first filter, tap and hold on the screen with one finger, then keep swiping with another. (Only certain kinds of filters can work together: You can apply one color cast and one text overlay, for example, but not two text overlays.) After that, you can drop on extra text, scribbles, and stickers as usual.
Speaking of filters, Snapchat now lets you make your own geofilters for $6 and up: You get to create a custom design to celebrate an event at a set location, such as a wedding or a party. From the camera screen, tap the ghost on the top left and then the cog on the top right. Next, pick On-Demand Geofilters to start designing. You can choose from a number of templates and review the final image before pushing it live.
5. Chat like you would on a messenger app
Snapchat has grown way beyond its original boundaries to include much more than disappearing photos and videos. You can send instant messages, make audio and video calls, and even send pre-recorded clips to your contacts. In fact, Snapchat includes as many features as a lot of the other messaging apps on your phone.
To start a chat with someone, first swipe right on the camera screen. From here, you have two options: Either swipe right on a contact in the list and start typing, or tap the message button on the top right, enter the names of one or more contacts, and only then start typing. By default, text messages, like photos, will disappear after the recipient reads them. But you can force a block of text to stick around for a slightly longer time by tapping and holding on a message, which will keep it visible.
The video and audio call buttons appear on the same screen as the text messaging options. Tap either icon to start a live call, or tap and hold either icon to record and send a message. Again, these pre-recorded messages will disappear as soon as they’re heard, unless you tap and hold on them.