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How to Use Snapchat: Share Vanishing Photos with Snap Chat


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Snapchat Interface: A Camera Button, Captioning, Timer and Send
Snapchat screen

Snapchat screen

Snapchat screenshot by Leslie Walker

The Snapchat interface is so simple that using it is easy and intuitive. The initial view is basically a camera icon with a big round blue circle at the bottom. You click the blue circle (shown on the left in the image above) to take a picture.

After taking a picture, you can add a caption, set the timer for viewing, select who to send it to and click "send."

Adding a Caption or Drawing On Top of a "Snap" Photo

You can add a caption by tapping the image on the screen, which will bring up your keyboard, allowing you to type your text. That part isn't entirely intuitive, but after you figure it out, it's easy to remember.

Alternatively or in addition, you can click the small pencil icon at the upper right, and then draw your text or an image directly on top of your image. A little sliding color picker will appear, allowing you to choose what color you want to draw with. Use your finger to draw on screen, which will create a layer on top of the image.

Set the Timer for Viewing Time

Next, you will set the message timer (as seen in the right of the two screenshots shown above) to decide how long the people you send it to will get to see your image. You can set the timer for up to 10 seconds.

After you write or draw a caption, you click the "Send" button at bottom right to call up your list of Snapchat friends and select your recipients. (Alternatively, you can always click the "X" icon shown in the upper left side of your screen to delete the image without sending it to anyone. And you can click the icon at the bottom of the screen to save it to your phone's photo gallery.)

If you like, the app can search your phone contacts/address book or your Facebook friends list to identify friends. You can also send the image to more than one friend at the same time, simply by clicking the radio buttons beside their names.

Before the image goes out, the app will ask you to confirm who you're sending it to and how long you want it to be shown by showing the time and recipient's name.

After it's sent, the recipient will be able to see the image only for the exact number of seconds you selected in the timer. He or she could, of course, take a screengrab, but they'd have to be quick. And if your friend does take a screenshot of your picture, you'll get a notice from the app that they did so. It will appear in your list of snap messaging activity, beside the recipient's name.

Do Snapchat Pictures Really Self-Destruct?

Yes, they do. The app is designed to delete the pictures and videos from the sender's phone after they are viewed.

However, that does not mean the recipient can't make a copy of the file BEFORE viewing it. And that's an important loophole that people using Snapchat should be aware of, because it essentially means the images users send with the app could be copied by the recipient--provided the recipient is technologically savvy enough to know how to find and copy the file before opening it on their phone. That likely will get harder to do over time as Snapchat improves its security and technology.

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