How To Get More Filters on Snapchat
Snapchat has become much more than the simplistic instant photo-sharing app it once was, which added temporary photos and videos for sharing with your friends. Snapchat added built-in visual technology to their service that you should use to create the best Snapsterpieces you can for your friends and followers.
In addition to classic filters that have been there since the beginning, Snapchat includes geofilters (based on your location), context-based filters (like time or temperature), and augmented reality (AR) filters, also called lenses. These filters take the world around you and digitally enhance them. You can place animated lifeforms and fun designs within your display.
If you’re a Snapchat regular, you might be familiar with many tweaks and tips in this guide. But for those new to Snapchat, it can be a challenging app to use, with a steep learning curve for some of its more advanced features. Luckily, once you know what you’re doing inside the app, it’s easy to take advantage of their filters, features, Snap maps, and everything else the app offers. Until then, let’s look at how to use filters and get even more filters than what appears initially.
The first thing you need to do is enable filters on Snapchat if they aren’t already. This is a fairly simple process, and no matter whether you’re on Android or iOS, enabling filters (or ensuring they are enabled) is a simple task, as long as you know where to look.
- Open up your settings menu inside Snapchat by either sliding down from the top of the camera interface or, on the newer versions of the application, by tapping on the Bitmoji icon in the top-left corner.
- Once you’re on the profile page, you’ll see the settings link in the top-right corner of your display. Tap it.
- Inside settings, scroll down through the menu until you reach the “Additional Services” category. Tap “Manage Preferences” to open up your Snap options.
- Ensure that “Filters” is enabled with a checkmark. If you do not see the option, it means your filters are enabled by default and cannot be disabled.
- Optional: Turn on “Travel Mode,” which won’t have an impact on your filters, but it will save your phone some battery life and data usage by not loading snaps in the background when on mobile data. It’s a good option to keep activated for regular Snapchat users.
With Snapchat, some filters are permanent. Others like geofilters get based on location and the currently available AR filters—will cycle and change based on what Snapchat is offering at a specific time. You can cycle through the filters by swiping left and right once you’ve taken an image for a video. Let’s take a look at each filter.
Snapchat Color Filters
Color filters are the most basic type of filter and they are always enabled in Snapchat. There are four different options for changing the visual appearance of your photo.
The first smoothens out your skin tone, artificially removing blemishes and acne while also brightening your photo.
The second is a sepia-styled filter, placing a sun-baked look on your photo.
The third boosts the blue levels of your image while also oversaturating specific colors to create a unique look.
The fourth is a simple black and white filter.
Snapchat Overlay Filters
For years, overlay filters gave some contextual information for your snap based on your location and activity. While they’re still capable of activation, every overlay filter has been translated into a sticker for easier use.
The time filter actively displays the time you took your photo.
The temperature filter will display the temperature of your area based on your current location.
The speed filter detects how fast you’re moving as you take a snap.
The altitude filter displays your current height from sea level. If your battery is fully charged or about to die, you’ll get a happy or sad battery icon available for use. This filter becomes available or unavailable based on your geolocation.
The above filters have been moved from their original location to the sticker tab in order to be more flexible. With a sticker, you can now move the temperature or time around as opposed to having it stuck permanently in the middle of the screen. It’s a small change, but a smart one. So, if you’re wondering where your filters went, they’ve been moved to the sticker menu.
Geofilters are entirely based on your current location, and work for towns and cities, large and small. Not every town has a local geofilter, and certain towns may default to the city they’re near. Other cities, like New York’s individual boroughs or Los Angeles, have multiple geofilters for tracking your location depending on the part of the city you find yourself in.
Snapchat Day of the Week Filters
Day of the Week filters are very similar to the overlay filters, but they’re all uniquely designed and, depending on your location, will change to say your town or city’s name below. Unlike the plain white design of the clock or temperature, these are cartoonish and fun in design.
Snapchat Sponsored Filters
Sponsored filters offer everything from movies and stores like Walmart to any other products sold to mass audiences. Advertising is how Snapchat makes most of its cash, and you can bet those filters show up in your feed regularly.
If you’re curious if a filter is sponsored—beyond the fact that it’s typically pretty obvious—look for the word “Sponsored” somewhere in the snap. This feature won’t be on your image when you send it and fades away after a few seconds, but Snapchat does make it clear and obvious what is and isn’t a sponsored filter.
Snapchat Bitmoji Filters
Bitmoji filters originally began life through an independent company called Bitstrips. You may remember the customizable comics; they were incredibly popular on Facebook, Snapchat finally acquired the company in 2016, following a year of integration within the app itself.
If you haven’t already made a Bitmoji on your Android or iOS device, you won’t see these options appear until your accounts are linked. Once you’ve created your digital avatar, there’s a ton of fun to be had with Bitmoji inside of Snapchat.
While most Bitmoji usage comes from stickers within the app, there are, on occasion, Bitmoji filters that feature your own avatar placed into the filter. Likewise, when you’re replying to a friend, you can also gain access to a Bitmoji filter that has the two Bitmojis featured together.
Those are the basics when it comes to filters you can get on Snapchat, but there are a few more things to note.
Additional Filter Options
Snapchat offers much more for filters and effects than just color, overlay, geo, day of the week, sponsored, and Bitmoji filters. You also have expanded filters, AR filters, and custom geofilter options. All three of these filters offer creative options for expanding your Snapchat world.
Snapchat Expanded Filters
Snapchat expanded filters provide the ability to add more than one filter on your snap. Color filters and geofilters, for example, don’t interfere with each other, but swiping through filters changes the appearance, one at a time. This is where expanded filters help enhance your snaps, but you only get to use two at a time.
Snapchat doesn’t make this incredibly clear, but filters are swipeable while maintaining an existing filter. Use one finger to select one filter, then press and hold your thumb on the screen while using your finger to swipe through additional unused filters. Want a black and white filter that also shows the time? No problem. How about a smoothing skin filter that shows the day of the week? Absolutely.
There are a couple of limitations to expanded filter options. Filters that take up the same space—like time and temperature, for example, won’t all work together because they use the same spot. Other filters though, like the battery and day of week filters, will overlap, despite using the same general area. As a rule, your second filter is a bit more limited than your first. You can only use one overlay filter or color filter on a snap at a time. Overall, the app allows you to customize the snap as you’d like.
And don’t bother trying to add a third filter using three fingers. With the exception of AR filters, Snapchat’s a two-filter-at-a-time game.
Snapchat Secondary Filters for Overlay Stickers
There is one other filter trick Snapchat hides from users though, and it’s arguably even cooler than the ability to use two filters at a time. Overlay stickers (time, temp, and speed) offer secondary filters if you tap on them, providing new or additional information, or changing the format of the filter itself.
The Time filter can additionally become the date in two separate styles: “04/16/2019” or “April 16th, 2019,” for example. This secondary filter is useful when trying to save a snap with the specific date of your event rather than the time.
The Weather filter can also become an hourly forecast, a three-day forecast, or another temperature measurement (Fahrenheit to Celsius). The option changes depending on your location and the standard setting for your country. As a general rule, Fahrenheit is for the US while Celsius is for nearly everywhere else. Once you’ve switched to the other measurement, you can then use the hourly and three-day forecasts in the alternate unit of measure.
The Speed filter can also become your unit of measurement from miles per hour to kilometers per hour, or vice versa. This feature also depends on your location. Tapping the speed filter again will change it back.
We also haven’t mentioned the additional text and drawing-based effects you can use on Snapchat, but those are options listed in the top-right corner of your display. You can also use emojis, stickers, and bitmojis (an avatar you build with an outside app) inside Snapchat. However, these options function less as filters and more as effects or decorations.
Snapchat AR Filters
Snapchat’s newer focus was on augmented reality, or AR filters (called “Lenses” by Snapchat). The phrase “augmented reality” has become a bit of a buzzword over recent years, starting with Snapchat’s usage of AR inside their filters and exploding with the release and popularity of Pokemon Go, which used AR to show Pokemon in your camera as if it was in the “real world.”
Augmented reality has also become something of a competitor to VR machines like Oculus Quest2 from Facebook Technologies, LLC and Vive Cosmos from HTC. Augmented reality refers to using a camera, along with your location and sensor information, to place a digital object on your screen that “appears” to be in the real world without actually being there.
Unlike virtual reality, goggles or a headset are not needed to accomplish augmented reality. You only need a phone with a good camera and the proper sensor support. While companies like Samsung and Google are investing in mobile virtual reality headsets, Apple is preparing to go all-in with augmented reality, announcing AR Kit at their developer conference in June 2017.
Meanwhile, Google slowly rolled out their augmented reality support, ARCore, throughout 2018 to flagship devices like the Pixel and Galaxy S-series.
If you’ve used Snapchat for any extended amount of time, you probably know exactly what AR filters are. From the rise and fall in popularity of the “dog filter” to the absolute ubiquity of the “face swap,” Snapchat users have constantly become accustomed to using AR filters.
Snapchat knows the demand and popularity of such VR enhancements. Just as we saw with standard filters above, Snapchat offers users “sponsored” filters for every product from drinks and movies to shopping centers—all based on whatever product is being pushed at a certain time.
If you’re new to Snapchat, AR filters may seem out of your league or impossible to learn, but this simply isn’t the case. AR is incredibly easy to learn how to use, and just as we saw with standard filters above, there are a ton of options here for us to fool around with.
Activating an AR filter is just as easy as using standard filters, but with two big differences: AR filters are applied before you take the shot, not after, and instead of sliding through options, you tap on the camera display to activate AR mode. Once you’ve done this, you’ll see plenty of different choices. To preview and use the AR filters, slide your finger between the options along the bottom of your screen, with each filter represented by a circle icon.
Most filters use the front-facing camera, but there are some alternate versions. Let’s take a look at some examples of filters. Since Snapchat adds and removes new filters every day, we’ll list some sample filters instead of focusing entirely on the appearance of each one.
The Sponsored filters don’t always appear, but when they do, they’ll typically be among the first filters you’ll see within the app whenever you activate AR mode. Despite their sponsorships, these filters can be a bit fun to play around with inside of Snapchat. For example, the film 47 Meters Down used a sponsored filter showing the area around you getting attacked by swimming sharks.
The Animal filters feature new animals that include a nose change, funny animal ears, and even virtual glasses. These filters are adorable, though your mileage may vary depending on the variation chosen on the app at a specific time.
The Face modifiers filter does more than the animal filter. Many AR filters modify how your face looks, but some of them can do a number. A classic example is the big-mouth filter, which magnifies your mouth, so it takes over half of your face. Regardless, there’s plenty of other options that rotate in and out while you’re using the app.
The Friend filters support two people in the shot at once., and they vary from animal filters to face-modifiers, These filters can sometimes be used solo as well, but they’re definitely more fun with a buddy. So, grab a friend and try them out.
The Action filters require you to perform some form of movement to activate an action within the filter. Typically, the reaction involves opening your mouth, raising your eyebrows, or blinking. This can trigger everything from a dog tongue licking the screen on the dog filter to magic cards flying everywhere as you’re wrapped in a Harry Potter-inspired scarf. These are a ton of fun, though you’ll want to record the filter instead of taking a simple photo snap for sending to others.
The World filters get built and work a bit differently than most AR filters. Instead of using your front-facing camera, these use the world around you to put cartoon characters and other words and creative phrases into a background, similar to how Pokemon functions in Pokemon Go. You can move and resize these characters, making it easy to modify and change how your snap looks right from inside the app.
The 3D Bitmoji lenses require a synced Bitmoji avatar with your Snapchat account. Your app will create a 3D version of your standard Bitmoji, producing a virtual “you” that you can place anywhere in the world. There are typically two or three different animations available at a time, and you can find them in the same menu for AR filters as the rest of your content. The circle icons are typically highlighted in blue or green to designate a 3D Bitmoji filter, and they work relatively the same as the World filters mentioned above.
It’s worth noting that some of the filters typically have a secondary function if you move from your front-facing camera to your rear camera. However, the effects typically put a matching pattern on the environment around you.
Finally, the standard guidelines for these lenses: most Android phones running Android 4.3 or above should support them. For iOS devices, lenses are supported on the iPhone 4S and above, iPod 5th generation, iPad 2nd generation and above, and Original iPad Mini devices or newer.
Snapchat Custom Geofilters
Those on the hunt for new filters on Snapchat are probably a bit out-there from most users, but we think a select few will really love them. Snapchat’s reliance on advertisers placing ads within Snapchat is certainly true. However, there is another path of money-making ooportunities for Snapchat, and it’s through custom geofilters.
These on-demand filters allow you to create your own for a limited area for events, weddings, businesses, announcements, and more. It’s a fascinating idea, and as long as you’re sensible about where you’re keeping the filter in effect, it’s pretty affordable too.
There are two separate ways to use custom geofilters, and it depends on how much energy and time you want to put into designing and creating your own. If you know a lot about graphic design or want to get into the nitty-gritty of designing your filter, you’re better off with the second option. For most users, follow the first direction to quickly and easily create a custom filter for your friends and family to use at an event or use it to hype your business.
Start by heading into the settings menu inside Snapchat. Find “Custom Geofilters” inside your settings menu and tap the option, then tap “Continue.” Snapchat will give you a bunch of different options for what the occasion you’re looking to design is.
The options range from always-present options like weddings and birthdays to time-based holidays like the 4th of July and graduations. Choose your category to load a list of standard geofilter templates. Tapping on an option gives you a sample photo using your filter, and you can do one of three things from there: go back to the options menu, select the geofilter, or customize it with your own text and drawings.
After you’ve designed your filter, hit the green check mark in the corner to move on. You’ll have to name your filter, and select between a personal or business filter. Tap continue, and you’ll be able to view the options for when your filter activates.
By default, this filter gives you about a six-hour window; extending it will make the filter cost more, and reducing it will cost less. When you select the next icon, Snapchat will load into a map interface, where you can type in an address and drag a shape around the area you want to cover.
Your filter can only be so big, so if you go too large, you’ll get a warning to make your filter smaller. Though standard prices start around $5.99 or so, making the area larger can cost as much as $169.
Once you’ve selected your area, tap “Continue,” and you’ll be able to review your order. From here, you hit submit and then head over to payment options. Most filters with a reasonably house-and-yard-sized area shouldn’t cost more than $10 to $15, making them perfect for parties, reunions, and vacation spots.
All of the above Snapchat filter options are easily accomplished right from your phone. If you’re into the idea of customizing your filter with your own graphics, or you want the freedom and usability of designing a filter with a keyboard and mouse, you’ll want to turn to Snapchat’s own on-demand geofilter website here.
The website allows you to design similar filters to what is available on the mobile app, but you can upload your designs from Photoshop or Illustrator. In general, even if you’re using the “standard” recommended designs, the desktop web application gives you a lot more freedom in terms of customizing your image with various colors and other designs.
There are some guidelines to follow when designing a geofilter, and we’ll quickly cover theme here for those users looking to design your own filter either within the app or on your computer:
- Personal geofilters don’t use any branding or promotional material. Business geofilters do use branding, and both have separate guidelines for rules that you can find in more detail here.
- You can’t use hashtags, photographs of people, phone numbers, email addresses, and other similar information. The link above has a complete list of dos and don’ts.
- If you’re looking to design a custom filter in Photoshop or Illustrator, you’ll want to know these design guidelines: files should be 1080×1920, under 300kb in size, and should be careful not to take up too much room on the screen. Otherwise you’ll risk being turned down for your design.
Overall, designing and submitting a filter is easier when using your phone. Every filter is guaranteed approval and accepted by Snapchat. However, the web-based designer allows for more creative freedom, and if you want to get interesting, you should submit your geofilter design through Snapchat’s client. It’s an elegant feature that doesn’t get used enough, and for most events, it’s relatively affordable.
Lens Studio: Custom Lenses from Around the World
In December of 2017, Snapchat quietly announced one of the biggest changes on its platform. Lens Studio is a new piece of software from the company that allows anyone with spare time and a computer to download the program and create AR filters. Design filters for your friends, as well as strangers all over the world.
Adding Lens Studio lenses to your Snapchat account is as easy as adding a friend using your Snapcode; all it requires is a link to the existing AR lens and your phone running the latest version of Snapchat. Current custom lenses are limited to those that change the world around you instead of face lenses that change your appearance.
Still, the good news is you won’t even need to install Lens Studio yourself to use the lenses unless you’re interested in creating your own. Instead, you’ll need to know how to gain access to these links online, how to discover new ones, and how to share them with your friends. Let’s take a look.
Finding New Custom Lenses
Since exporting a lens only requires a Snapcode to share with the world, it’s pretty easy to find people sharing their creations all the time. If you’re looking for custom lenses to try out, here are four sources of custom lenses.
#1: Snapchat Community Lenses Tab
The Snapchat Community Lenses tab gives you your very own tab right within the app.
If you’re looking to grab a quick lens for your story or send a funny Snap to your friends, the Community tab is a great place to start. To access the tab, tap on your face in the camera viewfinder to load the standard lens screen, and tap the icon in the lower-right corner of the app next to the “X” button.
#2: SnapLenses Subreddit
The SnapLenses Subreddit is a fantastic source of crowdsourced content on the internet, and that goes double for finding new custom lenses made inside of Lens Studio.
SnapLenses is a subreddit that started following the release of Lens Studio to allow users to upload their Snapcodes for all their favorite custom lenses. The community does post a ton of memes and other videos unrelated to new lenses. Still, by using the filter options on the right of the page, you can navigate to both 2D and 3D lenses submitted through the community. You can also search for specific references using the search bar on the right side, which allows you to find specifically named content.
#3: SnapLenses Twitter
Blakeb056, formerly known as Snap Lenses, is a Twitter account linked to the subreddit previously mentioned. The Twitter page cuts through all of the nonsense from the subreddit page and simply shares descriptions of the lenses with a Snapcode for you to add to your Snapchat images.
The subreddit can be a fun place to see the lenses in action by their users, but if you’d rather just add the content to your page, you can do that by simply using the Twitter account.
If you’d like to view the archives found in the former Snap Lenses on Twitter (renamed to “Snap Lenses archives”), click on the “Media” tab and browse all the older custom lenses. Otherwise, head to Blakeb056 on Twitter. Search for “@SnapLenses” to find Blakeb056. The search will also display other Twitter sources for custom Snapchat lenses. Just click on the “People” tab to see them.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that a Story or snap from your friends using special custom lenses might also have the option to view more context by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. If your friends have posted a Story using a strange, unfamiliar lens, check the bottom of the display to see if the word “More” appears.” Swiping up on these snaps will allow you to add the content straight to your device from their snaps or Stories without having to add the link manually.
Using Custom Lenses
Once you’ve found the lens you want to add to your device, have Snapchat open on your phone and get ready to scan the Snapcode. Snapcodes were traditionally used to easily add friends to your account, but you can now use these custom-QR codes to add Snap content to your device. With the camera interface open, take a photo of your computer’s display with the Snapcode filling up as much of your phone screen as you can. Smaller Snapcodes might not properly scan on your device, so get as close to the screen as you can while keeping the code in focus. Then, just snap a photo using the shutter button on the bottom of your display. Your device will vibrate, and a pop-up message will display the name of the lens, the creator of the lens, a Share icon in the upper-right hand corner, a button to unlock the lens, and the option to send to friends.
You might notice that the button says “Unlock for 24 Hours” when you add the lens. Lenses aren’t permanent additions to your Snapchat accounts; rather, you can hold onto a specific lens for up to 24 hours before it disappears from your account. This helps you manage a one-time lens use with lenses you might want to use more, and stops your app from being overburdened with additions that stop you from being able to scroll through the list of usable lenses. You can also report an inappropriate Snapchat lens that you’ve added to your account at any time by tapping on the Information icon and tapping on the flag icon in the upper-left hand corner.
If you happen to find a lens that you really like, you’ll still lose it after a full 24 hours (we’ve also seen filters disappear far sooner than that, but it’s unclear if that’s related to a bug with the beta version of the app we’re using on our test device). However, the good news is that it’s incredibly easy to add back a lens once it’s disappeared. There’s no limits on how often you can add a custom lens from Lens Studio back to your account either, so you don’t have to worry about losing your favorite content in the long run.
To use the lens, open the camera interface and ensure that your app is using the back camera. Some of the lenses work with your front-facing camera, but for the most part, they’re designed to be used with the camera on the back of your device. Tap on the center of your camera interface to focus the lens, and to open the AR filters and lenses in your device. This will load the standard list of your applicable filters and lenses.
Unsurprisingly, Snapchat puts at least a single sponsored lens first, but following that, you’ll find your added lens available on your device with the icon you saw while adding it to your account. Select that lens as you would any other, and you’ll see the word “Tap!” appear on your screen. Most lenses are video related, so begin recording your video and then tap on the display with your other hand to activate the lens (don’t forget to keep recording or you’ll stop the effect before it’s over!).
Sharing Custom Lenses with Friends
Inevitably, once you begin to use your custom lenses, your friends and followers will begin to wonder how you were able to create that content. You might get a couple inquisitive messages or reply-Snaps asking how you did it, or users trying to recreate the Snap magic without having the actual lens required to make your effect happen. Thankfully, Snapchat thought ahead and made it easy to share these custom lenses with anyone on your account, even if you weren’t the person who made the lens to begin with.
To share with friends on Snapchat, simply tap on the small information icon we mentioned above and tap “Send to Friends.” This will open the option to send it as a chat option, which allows you to send it to any number of friends you want on the platform as a URL link that adds to their app automatically, eliminating the need to add a Snapcode on your display. You can also use the system share icon to send links outside of Snapchat, though you’ll want to keep in mind that your friends need to have Snapchat installed on their devices to properly use the link. Finally, keep in mind that your friends can add the lenses you use in your snaps by swiping up from More at the bottom of the display.
iPhone Exclusive Lenses
In 2017, Apple reinvented the iPhone with the iPhone X, removing the home button and the large bezels along the frame of the device to give users a larger display in a smaller package. Since then, we’ve seen Apple refresh the design in 2018 and 2019, all while keeping the same front-facing technology along the way. As is usual for Apple, all of the devices have sold well, and has fueled all sorts of industry design choices, from notch-adoption to gesture controls If you’ve managed to scrape up the cash to buy a new iPhone, you know that the device is an excellent smartphone, gorgeous hardware combined with the evolution of iOS to create a redesign of the iPhone not seen since the days of the iPhone 4.
If there’s one thing that’s especially impressive about the iPhone X design, it’s the front-facing camera that you can find hidden inside the infamous notch at the top of the screen. The camera technology in the iPhone X’s front-facing camera is pretty high-tech stuff. It tracks your facial movements using invisible lasers, making a fully 3D mesh of your face in real-time. It’s how the phone is able to track face to unlock your phone, and how it can create Animoji in real-time to send to your friends. And thanks to a partnership with Snapchat, it can now create some iPhone X-exclusive (X-clusive?) filters.
First announced back in September 2017, Apple and Snapchat took until April 2018 to roll out the filters, seven months after they were detailed on-stage at the Steve Jobs Theater. While typical face-based AR filters through Snapchat modify your face in some shape and form, these iPhone X-exclusive filters are a bit more detailed. The best example of what these filters can do with the iPhone X technology and the AR tech built with ARKit from Apple is building a realistic mask that sticks to your face perfectly while allowing for lighting changes. It’s impressive stuff, though the exclusivity means that most people won’t get to see this sort of stuff on Snapchat for a long time to come.
If you’re looking for more information on these lenses in the future, pay close attention to the name “True-Depth,” the tech behind these new lenses. Snapchat is only the first third-party app to take advantage of this, and we expect to see more apps do this in the future.
Snapchat is one of those apps that holds a ton of hidden functionality, especially when it comes to filters and AR-enabled lenses. From simple features like the ability to to enable multiple filters and lenses at once, to adding additional weather, time and speed filters within Snapchat, the app does a good job keeping some of its best functionality hidden from its users. AR lenses and filters are a great way to customize your snaps on Snapchat, and some of them even contain hidden functionality when you switch to the rear-mounted camera on your phone.
And while custom geofilters were a fun way to waste time, we have to say the new addition of custom lenses created by people all around the world is one of our favorite features of the app thus far. Snapchat’s an app that keeps you on your toes, always adding new functionality without much explanation. Hopefully this guide—and future updates—will help you make the most out of your Snapchat filters and lenses.