How to take photos and videos with Snapchat

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Snapchat is all about snaps, and that means photos, selfies, and more!

Alright, you’ve signed up for Snapchat and proven you’re not a robot — great work! You should now be seeing a live camera view with a bit of instruction on how to take a photo or record a video, and several icons surrounding the frame.

How Snapchat’s top toolbar works

Let’s start with the toolbar at the top. It includes four buttons (menu, low-light mode, flash, and the camera switch) and the Universal Search Bar.

  • Menu: Tapping this button takes you to the main menu in Snapchat where you can add new friends, adjust settings, and share your Snapcode (more on that later).
  • Low-light mode: This button (looks like a crescent moon) toggles Low-light mode, which adjusts the settings on your camera to take a brighter photo in low light. Low-light mode will activate automatically if Snapchat senses a dark photo.
  • Flash: Tapping this button turns on or off the flash, whether that be from your phone screen (for a selfie) or the actual flash on the back of your phone.
  • Camera switch: Tapping this button toggles between the front-facing camera and the back-facing camera.

The Universal Search Bar is a powerful tool for searching across the entirety of Snapchat — your contacts, their stories, Discover, users, etc. You can learn everything you need to know about Snapchat’s Universal Search Bar here:

How Snapchat’s bottom toolbar works

At the bottom there are two buttons with a giant shutter button between them.

  • Chat button: Tapping this button takes you to a list of your Snapchat Chat messages.
  • Shutter button: Tapping this button takes a photo. Holding this button takes a video.
  • Stories button: Tapping this button takes you to a list of Snapchat Stories and Snapchat’s Discover feature (more on both of these later).

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