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26 Ways to Step Up Your Snapchat Game

Everything Snapchat does, Instagram—and others—have copied. Selfie filters can be found in Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Direct lets the company's huge user base send each other disappearing photos and videos a la Snapchat Snaps. And Instagram Stories have taken the place of, well, Snapchat.

It's enough that model Miranda Kerr, wife of Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, spoke out about it. "Do they have to steal all of my partner's ideas?" she said of Facebook. (Though she still uses Instagram.)

The last original thing Snapchat has left is Spectacles, which is probably why Snap is reportedly adding AR to them. Its IPO might not have been a huge success, but Snapchat has seen growth in daily active users, from 122 million in the first quarter of 2016 to 166 million in the first quarter of 2017.

If you're still a loyal Snapchat user, we have some tips. The selfie-friendly service is adding new features all the time, so scroll through them below.

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  • 1

    Stay Safe

    Don't let someone hijack your snaps. Snapchat has two-factor authentication. Once enabled, you'll need your password and an SMS code sent to your phone to log in to your Snapchat account on a new device. To enable it, tap the Snapchat icon > the gear icon on the top right > Login Verification > Continue, and a verification code will be sent to your phone.

  • 2

    Coded Language

    Finding friends in Snapchat can be hard, and not because you're not popular. Snapchat can access your contacts and add them but beyond that, search is really limited. If you don't know someone's exact Snapchat name, the easiest way to add a new friend is to use Snapcodes. Snapchat assigns every Snapchatter a unique, scannable Snapcode. To add someone via Snapcode, open Snapchat, aim the camera at the Snapcode, tap and hold on the Snapcode on your screen, and then select the option to add when it comes up.

  • 3

    Keep Your Friends Close

    You can also find a new friend right near you with the Add Nearby feature. Tap the Snapchat icon > Add Friends > Nearby. If you have location services turned on, you'll be shown all nearby Snapchatters.

  • 4

    Snap Map

    You're out and about but where are your friends? Open Snapchat and pinch your fingers together on the camera view. You'll be taken to the Snap Map, which shows the location of nearby friends and other Snapchatters, provided they are sharing their location.

    Tap on a friend's avatar to message them. If you don't see someone you're looking for, type their name in the search bar at the top of the screen or select Friends on the Snap Map to see all of your friends who are using the feature.

    The map has caused a bit of controversy, with people creeped out by how accurate it is, down to showing if friends are flying, driving, listening to music, sleeping, or are just face-down in the mud.

    When you open the map feature for the first time, you'll get three levels of sharing: All Your Friends, Select Friends, and Only Me. If you've already opened the map before and want to change your choice, tap the gear icon in the top-right corner of the Map screen.

  • 5

    Share Your Story

    Storytelling can bring an entire group together. To that end, you can invite people to contribute to a Snapchat Story. You decide who can add to the Story and who can view it—you can also Geofence the Story to a location. From the Stories page, select the plus sign icon on the top right, type a title for your Story, and select "Who can add?" you can choose who can contribute to a Story. The story will disappear 24 hours from its last update.

  • 6

    On a Loop

    There's something mesmerizing about looped videos. To make one in Snapchat, take a video as you normally would and then tap the loop symbol that surrounds the number 1 on the right side of the screen. It will now turn to an infinity symbol, meaning that when you send the video, it will loop continuously until the viewer goes on to the next Snap.

  • 7

    Advanced Moves

    Snapchat's Auto Advance feature—which put users through a parade of one video after another—is done. In its place is Story Playlist.

    Now you can choose the stories you wish to watch. Tap on the Story icon to the left of a friend whose videos you want to see, and a purple check mark will appear. Do the same for all friends whose Stories you want to play automatically. Now when you tap the purple play button at the bottom of the Snapchat home screen you'll see only your select playlist.

  • 8

    Color Your World

    If you like to draw on your snaps with the Pencil icon, you're not limited to the palette that shows up. To get superchromatic, tap the color bar. Then drag your finger up the screen to get lighter colors and down for darker ones. When the pencil icon is the color you'd like to use, lift your finger, tap where you'd like to draw, and you'll see your color selection.

  • 9

    Word Up

    Snapchat is low on characters, at least when it comes to writing captions. Thirty-one characters used to be the limit, and though it's now been raised to 80, you probably have more to say. Open up a notepad-type app, hit return several times until you have a few lines, then select all and copy the whole document. Then go back into Snapchat and paste it. Now you can type far past Snapchat's limit in the box.

  • 10

    Travel Mode

    To save data, put Snapchat into Travel Mode to prevent content from loading in the background when you're on your carrier's network. Go to Settings > Additional Services > Manage, and you'll see Travel Mode. Toggle it on.

  • 11

    Ultra Filtered

    Life looks better through a filter. So imagine how much better your snaps will look if you filter them twice. To use two filters at once, take a snap, then swipe left across the screen to add the first color filter. Then press and hold on the screen to keep that filter in place, and use another finger to swipe again and you'll be presented with geolocation, weather, and other filters. Tap the arrow to send your ultra-filtered snap.

  • 12

    Snapchat Lens

    Puppy power! Everyone looks good with the dog lens. If you want to have your day, open Snapchat, make sure the front-facing camera is turned on you, and press down on the screen. A menu should appear at the bottom of the screen; swipe left to find cute and sometimes disturbing lens options. Some will require you to open your mouth or raise your eyebrows to activate. Snapchat swaps out lenses regularly, though dog is truly your best friend and always available.

    You can also make the world a more beautiful place. When you're using the rear camera, tap the screen and you'll get lots of lenses to apply to your view.

  • 13

    Filter Yourself

    Geofilters have been a popular feature since they launched but now you can design your own for special events. Go to Settings and then On-Demand Geofilters. You'll be guided through a Geofilter customization process during which you can select the design, designate a time period and location for the Geofilter, and get a price quote (Geofilters start at $5.99). Once you submit your Geofilter, it will take just 24 hours to get approved.

  • 14

    The Return of Clippy

    Text, stickers, filters, your Snaps have it all. Except for links. To add a URL to a Snap, tap the paperclip icon after taking a photo, and then type in the link you want to make clickable from your Snap.

  • 15

    Let the Memories Live Again

    This Snapchat feature seems to go against all that Snapchat was founded on, but it's a sign that the service is all grown up. Memories is a way of holding onto Snaps and Stories. To create a Memory, save as you normally would. Instead of being saved to your camera roll, the Snap or Story will now be saved to Memories. To see all your Memories, swipe up from the camera screen. If you don't want to keep Memories around, then go to Settings > Memories > Saving > Save To and select Camera Roll Only.

  • 16

    Talk Talk

    Snapchat is really putting the chat in your Snaps. Last year, Snapchat upgraded its audio and video chat system by allowing for what is essentially voicemail and video messages inside Snapchat. Tap the video or phone icon to send a message; if both people are online, you can still jump into a video chat with either both or just one of you on camera.

  • 17

    Change Your Viewpoint

    You don't have to choose sides when you're Snapchatting. To switch between the front and rear cameras, double tap the screen while recording.

  • 18

    Eye Spy

    Want to know who's been creeping on you? Go to My Story, tap on the three stacked dots, then the Snap in question, and then swipe up to see who's viewed or screenshotted it. Swipe down when you're done.

  • 19

    Cut It Out

    If you've made what you thought was the perfect snap and thought it should be preserved (almost) forever as a sticker, the Scissors feature can do just that. After you've taken a snap, a scissor icon will appear in the upper left of the preview screen. Tap the icon and then draw around the area on the screen that you want to turn into a sticker. When you lift your finger, the object will now be saved as a sticker.

  • 20

    Drop In

    Make your Snaps snappier with Backdrops. Take a Snap, then click on the scissor icon, tap the square icon, and you'll get a bunch of different backgrounds to select from. Tap on them to choose, then use your finger to color in any parts of your Snap you don't want obscured by the pattern.

  • 21

    Erasable You

    If your Snap is perfect except for just that one thing you wish you could get rid of, don't worry. You can use the Magic Eraser to take it out. Take a photo, then tap the scissor icon and a trio of stars will appear. Select the stars and then use your finger to color in whatever you want gone. When you lift your finger, a flurry of stars will appear briefly and then the object will be gone.

  • 22

    What's That Sound

    Snapchat has Shazam integration. While the camera is open in Snapchat, you can press and hold the screen and Shazam will identify any music playing in the vicinity. The result will appear in a pop-up box that also lets users share the song.

  • 23

    Pet Sounds

    Maybe you don't like your voice, or maybe you just want to blend in with attacking aliens. You can change your voice to sound like a cat, alien, robot, or bear in any video Snap. Take a video as you normally would, then tap on the megaphone icon and select one of the voice filters.

  • 24

    Trophy Life

    Think your Snapchats are worthy of a trophy? So does Snapchat. If you snap something, you could get something. A tiny emoji trophy in your Snapchat Trophy Case, that is. To see what you've racked up, tap the Snapchat icon on the photo screen, then the trophy that appears at the top of the page. While there's no public list of trophies, one person is doing their best to document every trophy and its meaning.

  • 25

    Discover

    Snapchat's not going to make big bucks on your selfies alone. And that's where media partners like National Geographic, People magazine, Comedy Central, The Food Network, and ESPN come in. In 2015, Snapchat launched Discover, which is essentially bite-sized versions of those companies' content that can be consumed in swipes and taps. Swipe left to explore.

  • 26

    Make a Spectacle of Yourself

    Spectacles are great unless you wear prescription glasses. But GlassesUSA.com is now offering prescription lenses that pop into the Spectacles frame for $29.

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