An introduction to Snapchat


This guide will walk you through creating your first Snap and your Snapchat story. Your story is made of multiple Snaps, accessible to your followers for up to 24 hours.

Getting started

Download the Snapchat app if you haven’t already. Create an account and log in. Snapchat will automatically open the record screen once you’ve logged in.

Record a Snap

C lick the upper right corner of screen to turn camera around for a “selfie.” Take a video by holding down the record button at the bottom/middle of the screen (tapping once takes a photo). Note: Each Snap is viewable for up to 10 seconds, whether it’s a video or a photo.


Your recording will play in a loop on your screen. Watch and listen once through to make sure that you can hear yourself and you approve of the Snap. If you can’t, or want to do the Snap over for some reason, tap the “X” and the top left of the screen to go back to re-­record your Snap.

Add text or draw on your Snap.

T ap the screen once to pull up a keyboard. Tapping the “T” at the top right of the screen changes the size and orientation of your text. Tapping the pen icon (also at top right) gives you a drawing tool. Tapping the note icon gives you stickers and emojis you can add to your Snap. Use all of these tools to spice up your Snaps!


At the bottom of your screen you will find some additional icons. The number indicates how long a photo Snap will display when someone opens it, the arrow down is to download the Snap and the square with the plus sign adds the Snap to your “Story.”

Send your Snap

Now you can either hit that square/plus sign icon and the Snap will be added to your story, or you can hit the arrow at the bottom right of the screen to see more options.

Add the Snap to your story

W hen using the NPR Snapchat account, a lways hit “My Story” at top to post to your public timeline. You also have the option of send Snaps to individual people if you’d like.


Snapchat filters are k ind of like Instagram. You can activate filters by swiping right after recording a snap. Continue swiping right to get through color filters, an odometer filter, temperature filter, time filter, and finally geofilters (location-based filters that add a “sticker” on your Snap).

Other screens in Snapchat


If you swipe left from the open screen, you’ll find your conversations (one-­on-­one Snapchats with your friends).



If you swipe right from the open screen, you’ll find the Stories screen. This is where you and your friends will come to view each others’ public snaps — and it’s also where NPR’s followers will see ours. Stories last for 24 hours after they are posted, so make sure to check in every day to see what’s new. 




If you swipe up from the open screen, you’ll find Snapchat’s new “Memories” feature. Memories is where your saved Snaps will live. Memories also lets you take content from your phone’s Camera Roll and post it to your Snapchat story.


Things to remember

  • Snapchat videos only record up to 10 seconds at a time, but you can record as you want and send them to your story.
  • When recording, take a beat (about a second or two) at the beginning and end of your video so the Snapchat recorder doesn’t cut you off while you’re speaking.
  • Snapchat stories are automatically deleted after 24 hours, so make sure to save the photos and videos you’d like to keep.
  • This is a laid back platform, so have fun!

Recommended Snapchat accounts to follow


  • Main account: npr
  • NPR Music: nprmusic
  • Ari Shapiro, All Things Considered host: ari.shapiro
  • Linda Holmes, Pop Culture Happy Hour host: lindaholmes33
  • Tamara Keith, White House correspondent: tamarakeithnpr
  • Susan Davis, Congressional reporter: davissusan
  • Wright Bryan, social media editor: wrightbryan3
  • Lori Todd, social media editor: loritodd
  • Steve Mullis, engagement editor: steve_mullis
  • Claire O’Neill, visuals editor: clairevoyantt
  • Lauren Migaki, Morning Edition producer: lemigaki
  • Alexander McCall, editorial assistant: awmccall


  • theskimm
  • mashable
  • huffpost
  • quartznews
  • thehilldotcom
  • nytimes
  • verge
  • washingtonpost
  • usatoday
  • guardian_us

Want to learn more?

These official Snapchat guides will help you make sense of things:

Creating an Account

How To Create and Send Snaps?

How To Post Stories?

How Do I Find and Add Friends?


This guide is the work of many former NPR social media desk interns, including Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Aggi Ashagre and Brandon Carter. It was last updated in August 2016. 

Serri Graslie was the Senior Digital Strategist on the NPR Training team.