How to Use Snapchat: Editing Tips, Emojis, Filters, and More


Snapchat is the new hot platform on the social media block. But many marketers are intimidated by Snapchat, with its youthful user base and difficult-to-navigate interface. To make it easier, I’ll explain how to create Snapchat content, and walk you through the basic Snapchat editing techniques.

How to take a photo or video in Snapchat

In the home frame, tap on the white circle at the bottom of the screen to take a photo snap. To take a video snap, hold down on the circle and release when you want the video to end. Remember that you can only take videos that are up to 10 seconds long.

Snapchat editing basics:

Once you have taken a snap photo or video, a few new icons will pop up on the screen. These are your snap editing tools. On the following pages, we’ll explain how to use these tools to refine your snaps before you send them to your audience.

Adding text to a snap

In the upper right hand corner, there will be three icons: a square with a folded corner (a sticker), a “T,” and a symbol of a pen.

  1. Using the “T” symbol, you can add text that is up to 90 characters long, then move it up or down on the snap to the desired location. If you want to add paragraph spaces in between words, copy some blank paragraph spaces from your phone’s email or notes app.
  2. You can also tap on the “T” again while adding text to make the text appear larger and aligned to the left.
  3. Tap the “T” again to center the text.
  4. You can select words or letters and make them different colors using the color scale on the right.
  5. While editing the text, use your fingers to zoom on the screen to make the text appear larger or smaller.
  6. You can also resize and rotate the textbox after you have finished editing the text.

PRO TIP: You might be wondering, “Why can’t I turn my text black?” The answer is: you can! To turn the text black, swipe from the top of the color scale all the way to the bottom of your phone. To turn the text back to white, swipe from the top of the color scale all the way to the bottom of your phone, and then to the middle of the left side of your phone, all in one swipe. (This may take a couple of attempts.)

Adding emojis to a snap

  1. The sticker icon allows you to add emojis to your snap.
  2. Tap on an emoji you’d like to add to your snap, then use your fingers to move it to a different spot or change its orientation. You can also make these emojis bigger or smaller by using your fingers to expand or contract them.

How to pin an emoji to an object in a video: If you are editing a video, you can pin an emoji to an object in the frame by adding the emoji, moving it to the desired location, and then pressing down on the emoji over the object you want to attach it to.

Drawing on a snap
Snapchat also allows you to draw over your photo or video snaps. To use the drawing tool, click on the pen icon and adjust the color using the scale on the right. Using a stylus can be a huge help when writing, drawing, or shading in areas with color.

Changing the length of a snap

Snapchat allows you to change the amount of time viewers can see a snap image before it disappears. In the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a few different icons.

  1. Number inside a circle (for snap photos): To change the amount of time your snap photo is shown, click on the number with a circle around it. The number shows how many seconds a photo will be seen, up to 10 seconds. Change the number of seconds a photo is shown by tapping on the number.
  2. Volume symbol (for snap videos): If the snap is a video, you will not see this number—you will see a volume symbol in its place. This icon allows you to control the video’s volume.

    Other icons:

  3. Arrow pointing into a box: This icon lets you download that snap, which you can also do after you’ve posted it to your story.
  4. Square with a plus sign: This icon lets you add the snap directly to your story.
  5. Blinking arrow: This icon brings you to a screen that lets you choose where to send your snap, including to your story and all of your friends.


Snapchat lenses use facial detection to adapt interactive filters to your face, or other human faces you select. The available lenses change from day to day. However, face swap (exchanging faces with someone) or photo face swap (exchanging faces with a photo) are here to stay (for now). Check out some examples of lenses:

How to use a Snapchat lens
To use lenses, frame your face in the camera then press and hold on your face in the screen until your face is outlined in white lines. You can then explore the lenses and choose your favorite!


Snapchat offers filters for photos and videos, plus four filters specifically for videos. Snapchat also offers a selection of geofilters, which are exclusively available depending on your location.

To add a filter to your snap, swipe to the left on your photo or video until you find the one you want.

How to add multiple filters

Good news! You can add up to three total filters to your snap. Press and hold a finger on the screen while swiping left with another finger until you find the second filter you want to add, then repeat that process to add a third filter.

The filters include four photo filters (light, dark, saturated, and black and white), as well as a filter that records how fast you are going in miles per hour, a filter with the temperature, and a filter that shows the time.

Video Filters
For a video, you’ll have four more filter options: slow speed (symbolized by a snail), fast speed (symbolized by a rabbit), super fast speed (symbolized by a rabbit with streaks behind it), and reverse (symbolized by three arrows pointing to the left), which makes your video play backwards.

PRO TIP: Use multiple video filters to create different effects, such as speeding up a video and playing it backwards.

Geofilters come after photo and video filters when you swipe right after taking a snap, and may be available based on where you are located. Snapchat makes new geofilters available on special occasions, particularly for holidays. Be on the lookout for new geofilters based on where you go and what day it is! Here are a few examples from the TrackMaven office in Washington, D.C.

On-Demand Geofilters

You can create an original geofilter for your business on Snapchat! On-demand geofilters are a great way to brand snaps at your headquarters or a special event. For example, we created a geofilter for our annual marketing conference, Spark:

Here’s how to create a geofilter for your business on Snapchat:

  • Create an image that is a web-optimized PNG file, 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels, and under 300KB. (Check out Snapchat’s guidelines for more information.)
  • Select the area (under 5 million square feet) and the time range in which the geofilter will be available and submit it for approval on Snapchat’s website.

The price of an on-demand geofilter depends on the location, the time range, and the size of the area selected. It can take a couple of business days for Snapchat to approve geofilters, so plan ahead. After the geofilter has run its course, you can go back and review the number of times it was used and viewed.

Community Geofilters

You can also submit free community geofilters (not brand-oriented) for potential use by Snapchat. Community geofilters are often created for cities, states, local landmarks, or universities. Take a look at some examples from Snapchat’s website:

Want to learn more about Snapchat editing for business? Download The Snapchat Marketing Guide for Brands now!