Snapchat Guide

A guide to Snapchat. Find out the features of Snapchat, what you can do in it and the safety tools available.

flashlight on yellow background pointing light to snapchat logo

Our Snapchat guide covers what you can do in the app and how to use the privacy settings available.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a messaging app used to take photos and videos, decorate them with text and pictures, and then send them to friends. These photos and videos are called ‘Snaps’. Snaps aren’t saved like regular messaging apps – they’re only available to view for a few seconds and then they disappear. Once everyone that has been sent a Snap has viewed it, Snapchat’s system automatically deletes it from their servers.

What can you do on Snapchat?

Snaps and Chat

Snaps: You can send photos that last up to 10 seconds, or send videos that last up to 30 seconds to your Snapchat friends. Snapchat now allows you to ‘loop’ your videos on repeat and send photos that do not disappear until the person viewing exits out of viewing them.  You can decorate your snaps with filters, lenses, stickers and text – and add them to your Story if you want them to be available to be viewed for longer. You can also ‘replay’ a video or snap you receive from someone else once. Snaps can also be saved to your chat and downloaded to your camera roll.

Lenses: Lenses add real-time special effects and sounds to a Snap. For example, some lenses add animal masks to the users face and another makes the person appear to be surrounded by butterflies.

Filters: Filters are a way to customise your Snaps. You can add a filter to your image or video that shows the time, weather, the location that you’re at and others.

Stickers: Stickers are colourful images and cartoons that you can use to decorate your images and videos.

Screenshot: Snaps disappear once the person who it was sent to has seen it, but people can still take screenshots of Snaps. It’s important to know that even though Snapchat deletes Snaps once they’ve been seen, if someone does take a screenshot there is a record of the Snap. If someone screenshots a Snap, the person who sent it will get a notification to let them know.

Messages: You can also use Snapchat to send messages. Like with Snaps, the message will disappear once it’s read, but people can choose to save text chats in the app.

Stories, Memories and Discover

Stories: Adding images or video to your Story creates a series of Snaps that stay on Snapchat for 24 hours. You can choose to have your Story visible to all Snapchatters, just your Snapchat friends or a group of your choosing.

Custom Stories: Custom Stories let you and your friends collaborate on a story together, and there are two types of Custom Stories you can make.

  • Group Stories – you and the friends you choose can create new Stories together around an event e.g. a night out.
  • Geofenced Stories – you can create Stories that you and all your friends — and even their friends, if you choose — can add to when you’re at a specific location.

Our Stories: Our Stories are collections of Snaps submitted from different Snapchatters throughout the community, collected and categorised to capture a place or event from different points-of-view. They are available to view by all Snapchat users.

Memories: Memories is your own personal collection of Snaps and Stories you’ve created that you want to save. You’re able to put a password on private snaps, so that only you can unlock these memories.

Discover:  On Snapchat you can view content from established publishers like the Discovery Channel, BuzzFeed and Comedy Central. You can also view Live Stories which are a stream of Snaps submitted by people at different locations and events around the world.

Snap Map

Snap Map allows you to view Snaps of events like sporting events, celebrations, breaking news, from around the world. If you and a friend follow one another, you can share your locations with each other so you can see where they are and what’s going on around them. You’re able to choose who can view your location, or enter ‘Ghost Mode’ so no one can see your location. To open the Snap Map, use the map button on the bottom menu of the app. There are always potential risks with sharing your location with other people, so it’s important to think carefully about who you’re sharing this information with. See our privacy information below for instructions on entering Ghost Mode.

 When do Snaps ‘disappear’?

Most messages sent over Snapchat will be automatically deleted once they’ve been viewed or have expired.


  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete all Snaps after they’ve been viewed by all recipients
  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete all unopened Snaps after 30 days
  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete unopened Snaps sent to a Group Chat after 24 hours

Text chat 

  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete messages sent in one-on-one Chat after you and the recipient have both viewed it and have left the Chat screen
  • Snapchatters can always save a Chat by pressing-and-holding on it. Saved Chats appear on a grey background, and you can press-and-hold on them to unsave them at any time.
  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete messages sent in Group Chat after 24 hours, even if they haven’t been viewed yet


  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete Snaps you add to your Story 24 hours after you added them
  • You can remove a Snap from My Story at any time. To learn how, go here.

Custom Stories 

  • Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete Snaps you add to a Custom Story 24 hours after you added them
  • Note: The person who created a Custom Story can save the entire Story to their Memories at any time. Also, don’t forget that anyone else in the Story can always screenshot Snaps, too!
  • Custom Stories can only have 1,000 Snaps at a time — once a Custom Story has more than that, the newest Snaps will replace the oldest Snaps
  • You can remove your Snaps from a Custom Story at any time. To learn how, go here.


  • Memories keeps the Snaps and Stories you save, so you can look back on them at anytime! Memories is backed up by Snapchat.
  • If you delete a Snap from your Memories, Snapchat servers are designed to erase that Snap as soon as possible

Our Story & Stories in Search 

  • Snaps that are submitted to Our Story may be viewable in Search for different amounts of time — some for only a day or two, while others can be viewed for much longer
  • If you’d like to remove a Snap you’ve posted to Our Story within the last 24 hours, go to your Stories screen, tap the button beside Our Story, tap the Snap you want to take down, and tap the ‘trash can’ icon at the bottom — it’ll then be removed from Search
  • If you’d like to remove a Snap you’ve posted to Our Story more than 24 hours ago, go find the Snap you want to take down in Search, press and hold on it, tap the 🏳️ button in the bottom-left corner, and select your reason for reporting it

Important Snapchatters who see your messages can always potentially save them, whether by taking a screenshot or by using some other image-capture technology (whether that be a separate piece of software, or even simply taking a photo of their screen with a second camera).

Privacy settings

To see who can view your Snaps and Stories, or to change who can view them tap on the ghost image on the camera screen to access your profile, then tap the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and scroll down to the ‘Who Can’ section.

For Snaps: tap the ‘Contact Me’ option and choose either:

  • ‘Everyone’ – This allows anyone to send you Snaps (even strangers).
  • ‘My friends’ – Only your friends are able to send you Snaps.

For Stories: tap the ‘View My Story’ option and choose either:

  • ‘Everyone’ – This allows anyone to send you Snaps (even strangers).
  • ‘My Friends’ – Only your friends are able to view your Story
  • ‘Custom’ – This allows you to choose which friends can see your stories.

Snap Map Location Sharing Options
When you open the Snap Map for the first time, you’ll get a prompt to choose who to share your location with. You’ll be able to update this setting later at any time.

  • ‘Only Me (Ghost Mode)’ – Your location won’t be visible to anyone else on the Map. When you’re in Ghost Mode, your Bitmoji will hold up a blue sign with a spooky specter.
  • ‘My Friends’ – Your location will be visible to all of your friends on the Map — including any new friends you make. If you want to choose this option later, go to ‘Select Friends…,’ scroll down to ‘All Friends,’ and tap ‘✓ Select All.’
  • ‘Select Friend’ – Choose specific friends to share your location with. Friends you select won’t be notified that you chose them, but they’ll be able to see your location on the Map.
To edit your location settings, just tap the ⚙️ button in the top-right corner of the Map screen. You can change who can see your location, or you can hide your location altogether by going into Ghost Mode. To open the Snap Map, go to your Camera screen and pinch your fingers in like you’re zooming out from a photo.

Blocking and deleting

Blocking someone on Snapchat means they won’t be able to send you Snaps, Chats or view your Stories. If you delete someone they will no longer show up on your friends list, but your privacy settings will determine whether they can still see your Stories.

To block or delete a contact:

  1. Tap the username you want to block or delete in you ‘My Friends’ page.
  2. Tap the gear icon that appears next to their name.
  3. Select ‘Block’ or ‘Remove Friend’

To block someone who isn’t on your friends list, just swipe on their name on the Chat screen to open a Chat with them. Then tap the button in the top left corner to access their profile, where you can block them.

Reporting a problem

If you see an inappropriate Snap you should report it.

This includes Snaps that share:

    • Pornography, nudity or sexually suggestive content involving people under the age of 18
    • Invasions of privacy or impersonation of others
    • Threats, harassment or bullying of other people
    • Self-harm

To report something:

    1. Tap on the ghost picture on the camera screen
    2. Tap the gear icon
    3. Choose ‘Support’

Age restrictions

Snapchat isn’t intended for children under the age of 13. Teens aged 13-17 should have permission from a parents or legal guardian to use the app.

A Snapchat account can be deleted by entering the child’s username and password here.

If you found our Snapchat guide useful, share it with others on social media who might find it useful too.

For more information about Snapchat, visit Snapchat’s support website.

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