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How to Use Effects on Snapchat

Snapchat is a popular social networking and messaging app available for iOS and Android. You can use it to add various effects to photos or videos. To do this, you can use Lenses (effects for selfies), filters, the option to swap faces, text, stickers, emoji or even the drawing tool. Try different options, have fun and see what you can create!

Use Lenses (face modifications)


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Understand this tool. 

The most well-known Lens effect is one of the first: vomiting rainbows. Since then, work flow of snapchat has regularly released other effects for selfies, such as face swapping, various animal faces, characters, face deformations, “Happy Birthday” option, etc.

  • Lenses are special effects applied in real time using a face detector so you can see the effects of your movements on screen. Since many Lenses are interactive, you may need to perform a certain action to achieve a certain effect (eg opening your mouth to release a continuous stream of rainbows). There are ten free effects per day and they change. If you purchased Lenses when they were available, they will be permanent.
  • Lenses apply before taking a photo or video while filters apply after taking a Snap. You can use both Lenses and Filters for the same Snap.

Update Snapchat. 

You must be using the latest version of the app in order to apply Lenses. You can update it from the App Store or the Google Play store.

  • See this article for more information on the update.
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    Know the limits. 

    Learn about limits on which devices can use Lenses. They do not work on the majority of Android smartphones and only work for recent iPhones (and even for these, bugs have been reported). If your device isn’t recent, chances are you won’t be able to access the effects for selfies and even if you have them, they might not work 

    • iPhone 4 and first generation iPads are not compatible with Lenses. Even users with various devices that are supposed to be compatible have reported that this option does not work for them.
    • For devices running Android, Android 4.3 or later is required to use selfie effects.
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Switch to selfie mode. 

Lenses work by recognizing a face to which they add effects. You can use this feature with the camera on the front or the back of your phone, but it will probably be easier to test it with the front one. When you launch the Snapchat public profile, you will directly access the main camera. There are two ways to enable selfie mode.

  • Tap the icon in the top right (a circle surrounded by two arrows) to activate the front camera.
  • Quickly tap the screen twice to switch between cameras.


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Center your face. 

Hold your phone far enough away to see your entire face onscreen. The effects work best when the whole face is visible.

  • Also, make sure there is sufficient lighting for facial recognition to work properly.

Choose a Lens. 

Swipe side to side to see the choice of effects you have. Snapchat changes them every day, which means there are always new choices.

  • Among the popular effects that you are likely to find, you have the vomiting of rainbows, the screams, the zombie, the eyes in hearts or even the tears.
  • The special Birthday Lens is activated on your birthday (if you have activated the “Happy Birthday” option in the settings). You can also access this effect for a friend’s birthday: just look for the cake image next to the contact’s name indicating that it’s their birthday and tap on this image to directly access the Lens

Scan your face. 

Tap your face on the screen and keep your finger pressed until a geometric shape fills your entire face. After a moment, your face will be scanned and the selection of Lenses will appear at the bottom of the screen.

  • Make sure your whole face is onscreen and you’re holding your phone steady. You may need to keep your finger pressed for several seconds or try several times to access the available effects. If the geometric shape only covers parts of your face, the lighting may be insufficient.Because the choices change all the time, a particular effect you’re looking for may not be available. Look again in a day or two to see if it has returned.
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Follow the instructions. 

Many Lenses come with a brief instruction that you must apply for the effect to occur. For example, to vomit rainbows, you must open your mouth.
Image titled Get Effects on Snapchat Step 9

Capture the Snap. 

Take a photo or video. When ready, quickly press the capture image button at the bottom of the screen (in this case, the image of the effect you chose) to take a photo or keep your finger pressed to take a video (up to 10 seconds). The effect you selected will be saved in the Snap.

  • For photos, you’ll see a clock icon at the bottom left of the screen. Tap it to choose how many seconds (up to 10) you want the Snap to stay up when a friend watches it.
  • If you have an Android device, you must have version 5.0 or later to be able to apply Lenses to videos. iPhone 4, 4S and iPad 2 are not compatible. Even with compatible devices, some users have reported that this option does not work for them.
  • You can also add other elements, such as text, drawing, emoji and stickers. You can apply all of them to a photo that has been edited with a Lens (as will be explained in the following sections).
Image titled Get Effects on Snapchat Step 10

Send the Snap. 

Once you’ve captured it, you can send it to the contacts you want on Snapchat, add it to a Story (visible for 24 hours) or simply save the photo or video without posting it, as you can do with any Snap.

  • The second icon from the left at the bottom of the screen (an arrow pointing down above a line) allows you to save the Snap without posting it.
  • The third icon from the left at the bottom of the screen (a square with a “+” sign) allows you to post the Snap only with a Story, visible for 24 hours to all contacts you have authorized to see it.
  • Tap the blue Send To button at the bottom right of the screen to choose the contacts you want to send the Snap to. You can also select your Story.
  • After selecting the recipients, tap the blue arrow at the bottom right to send the Snap.

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