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28 Tips to Help You Step Up Your Snapchat Game

Everything Snapchat does, Instagram—and others—have copied. Selfie filters can be found in Facebook and Instagram. Stories have cropped up across all of Facebook's products, from Messenger to WhatsApp.

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

Snapchat competitors, however, have made Snapchat features easier to use. While Snapchat daily active users have steadily grown, they now stand at nearly half of those for Instagram Stories. So this past fall, Snapchat decided to make some changes.

If you're still a loyal Snapchat user, we have some tips on how to navigate the app, so scroll through them below.

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  • 1Change of Address

    Your friends have moved on Snapchat. When you open the app, you can find them by swiping to the right. All of the branded content you follow is accessible by swiping to the left.

  • 2Stay 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.

  • 3Coded 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. Tap on your profile, then select Add Friends, and you can type in a friend's Snapchat name to add them. 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.

  • 4Keep Your Friends Close

    You can also find a new friend right near you with the Add Nearby feature. Both of you should select the Snapchat icon, tap Add Friends > Nearby. When their user name comes up, select it and add them.

  • 5Snap 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. You'll also see Snaps and Stories in the area from those who've chosen to share them.

    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 Ghost Mode. 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.

  • 6Share 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. The story will disappear 24 hours from its last update.

  • 7On 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.

  • 8Advanced Moves

    Snapchat's Auto Advance feature—which puts 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.

  • 9Color 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.

  • 10Word 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.

  • 11Travel 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.

  • 12Ultra 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.

  • 13Snapchat 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.

  • 14Filter Yourself

    Geofilters have been a popular feature since they launched but now you can design your own for special events. Either visit Snapchat's Geofilters page on the web or in the app 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.

  • 15The 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.

  • 16Let 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, take a Snap as you normally would and then tap the downward arrow. Instead of being saved to your camera roll, the Snap will now be saved to Memories. To do the same with Stories, when you're finished creating one, tap the three vertical dots and then Story Settings and then select the downward arrow. 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.

  • 17Talk Talk

    Snapchat is really putting the chat in your Snaps. Snapchat upgraded its audio and video chat system. You can have a live phone or video chat by going to a chat with a friend and tapping either the phone or video icon. If they're not around, then you can leave them a message.

  • 18Change 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.

  • 19Eye 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.

  • 20Cut 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.

  • 21Drop 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.

  • 22Erasable 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.

  • 23What'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.

  • 24Pet 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.

  • 25Trophy 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.

  • 26Discover

    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. With Snapchat's new design, Discover is available to the right of the camera when you open the app.

  • 27Make 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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  • 28Look for Context Clues

    See something you like on Snapchat and want to know more about the world around it? Swipe up and you'll get a Context Card. It has information about the Snap and the world around it from Snapchat partners like TripAdvisor and Michelin. And if you want to explore the area in real life, you'll also get one-tap access to Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, and other services.

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