Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you’re new to Snapchat, you should consider taking a look at some of the tips and tricks we’ve compiled to get started. Even if you’re familiar with Snapchat, there are some surprising things you should familiarize yourself with too. We also have a list of great Snapchat accounts you should follow.
One of the biggest reasons why you might want to use Snapchat is its collection of fun filters and lenses that make your selfies pop. There are plenty of effect choices from the get-go, with the selection changing on a regular basis. But Snapchat also has secret filters and lenses that you must unlock before they’re accessible, and even then, it’s only for a limited time.
How do you unlock these hidden filters and lenses? Keep reading.
Filters and Lenses: What’s the Difference?
In Snapchat, there are two effects that you can apply to your photos and videos: filters and lenses. While they sound like the same thing, there are some differences between them.
Snapchat lenses are the meat of the app and the feature that set it apart from the rest. Essentially, lenses are augmented reality filters, and they’re mostly designed for your phone’s selfie camera. It’s how all the cool kids are turning themselves into dogs or puking rainbows.
Filters are more basic, as they mostly change the color of your image or video (like on Instagram). However, they can also add information, such as geo-filters, time, or weather.
How to Use Filters
For the filters, all you need to do is snap a photo (front or rear cameras) and then swipe left and right to go through the different filters. The filters vary depending on whether you just took a still image or recorded a video.
The further right you swipe, the more unique filters you’ll see. These include geo-filters, which are overlays featuring famous locations and cities, or special ones from specific events, such as sports games or music festivals.
When you’re out enjoying life, make sure to launch Snapchat — you never know what geo-filters you’ll find!
How to Use Lenses
If you’re new to Snapchat, then the lenses are a bit harder to figure out. This is only because Snapchat decided to keep them tucked away by default.
In the Camera view, enable the selfie camera (front-facing) and then long-press on your face. You’ll see a 3D wire map of your face, and then available lenses appear to the right of the capture button.
As you scroll through the lenses, you’ll see a preview of each one in action. There are special effects on each lens that occur when you follow the directions on the screen. Some lenses work with the rear-facing camera too, and others are best used with a friend.
Always in Rotation
The fun with Snapchat lies in the always-changing line-up of available filters and lenses for users to choose from.
While this means more variety from time-to-time, it also means not all of them are going to be around forever. If you want to use a lens, then you’d better use it when you see it.
And of course, there are some limited edition lenses and filters that are only available briefly. These are mostly to promote that hot television show that’s airing, a product with a sponsor, or even certain theme parks.
It’s All About the Snapcodes
Snapchat has special filters and lenses locked away behind Snapcodes. What are Snapcodes? They’re similar to QR codes, and you find them on limited edition products, in tweets, or even through basic hyperlinks.
They are slightly different than normal QR codes, though, and you’ll be able to tell the difference right away. Snapcodes feature the Snapchat logo icon, with a dotted pattern surrounding the ghost mascot. Each Snapcode is unique and only lasts for a certain amount of time.
Scan the Snapcode
If you find a Snapcode that’s a hyperlink, all you have to do is tap on the link to launch Snapchat and then unlock the lens. But if you’re working with a Snapcode image, there’s slightly more work involved.
Launch your Snapchat app, and then double-tap the camera button to bring up the rear-view camera. Get the Snapcode into the viewfinder and have it focus so the image is clear. Then just do a long-press on the Snapcode on the screen until your phone vibrates when it’s recognized.
The Snapcode can be used for a variety of things, like making it easier to follow users, but we’re only discussing the ones to unlock lenses.
Unlock Your New Lens
After you scan the Snapcode or tap the link, you’ll see the New Lens Found! message in a popup. Just tap on the Unlock button to add it to your Lens repertoire.
As mentioned earlier, each code is unique and you can only use it for a limited time. The duration that each Snapcode is available is different, but Snapchat tells you how long you can use it for once it’s unlocked.
On top of that, Snapcodes may not be available forever, as they’re usually used to promote something. Even if you find some codes from previous promos, they may be expired already.
Experiment With New Lenses and Have Fun
Once you’ve unlocked a hidden lens, make sure to give it a spin!
To use your lenses, just go back to the Camera and enable selfie view using the front-facing camera. Then tap on your face on the screen and Snapchat brings up all available selfie filters and lenses in a row next to the capture button.
Any secret ones you’ve just unlocked show up first, so they’re the quickest to access. To use it, just tap the one you want and then follow the directions on the screen. It’s that easy!
Where Can You Find Hidden Lenses and Filters?
We mentioned earlier that the hidden filters and lenses are usually available for a limited time to promote a new product, popular TV show, or even a place. Because of this, the availability of secret filters always varies from time-to-time, but here’s a few that you can try out.
Game of Thrones
Even though Game of Thrones‘s seventh season wrapped up a few weeks ago, it appears that the special Snapchat filter is still available (at the time of this writing).
This cool Game of Thrones filter has two versions that utilize both the front and rear-facing cameras.
The default one is for selfies, and transforms the user into a terrifying wight, just like the Night King. You’ll be surrounded by a frozen, wintery landscape and your eyes turn icy blue. When you open your mouth, you’ll see frozen breath escaping your lungs.
The second part of the Game of Thrones lens uses the rear-facing camera. It brings forth the snowy landscape once again, but the Night King also shows up somewhere in the room. At the bottom of the screen is a dragonglass dagger, and you can tap on it to “throw” it at the Night King and make him go away.
Since Game of Thrones is already over, there’s no guarantee of how long this filter will be available. So if you’re interested, make sure to snap it and get as much use of it as possible!
If you’re a Disney fan, then you’ll be happy to hear that there are hidden geo-filters for Snapchat all over Walt Disney World and even Disneyland.
The filters that are available while you’re in either park depends on the area that you’re in. Some are available all over, while specific ones are accessible only at certain attractions. Here’s a complete guide of the available secret Geofilters at Walt Disney World and Disneyland—just some of the best Snapchat geofilters you can use. You can even make your own geofilters on a budget, if you like.
If you’re planning a trip there anytime soon, then make sure to have Snapchat ready to go. It’s the happiest place on Earth, after all.
It’s Time to Snapchat
Now that you know all about how Snapchat’s filters and lenses work, as well as the cool ones you can unlock, it’s time to have some fun.
But remember: Snapchat is a social network, so you’ll still want to be careful with the kind of information you put out there for everyone to see. If you need a refresher, we have some ways to keep your Snapchat secure.
Do you use Snapchat often for fun with friends and family? What do you think of their hidden filters and lenses? Do you use them at all? Let us know in the comments!
Explore more about: Snapchat.