How to screenshot on Snapchat without them knowing
The initial premise of Snapchat was that happy-go-lucky users could send pictures and videos with abandon, safe in the knowledge their content would expire after a matter of seconds, lost to the annals of digital history.
Except there’s a reason you’ve never heard the term “annals of digital history” before. Such a place doesn’t exist. Once something digital goes out into the stratosphere, you can never be sure it’s gone for good. Exemplified perfectly by the screenshot cheat sheets that have circulated the internet since 2011, when the app launched.
People have tried everything, from putting their phones on airplane mode and force quitting the app before Snapchat registers the screenshot, to the altogether more manual technique of using someone else’s phone to capture what’s appearing on your screen.
Snapchat has closed off lots of these avenues now, including third-party apps that promised the elusive secret screenshot, but there’s one avenue left open and it doesn’t include the undignified rigmarole of soliciting a friend’s smartphone to document whatever saucy, salacious, or downright sordid interaction you’re having on Snapchat. Read on to find out just what that is….
How to screenshot on Snapchat
The secret to screenshotting on Snapchat lies with trusty iOS 11, the screen record feature can be used to capture your interaction on the social media app. Although Android users had to wait quite a while for the native feature, it’s now available for those phones as well thanks to the Android 10 updates.
Screenshot with iPhone
iPhone users will need to add Screen Record to their Control Panel before taking undetectable screenshots of Snapchat.
To access Screen Record on your iPhone:
Head to Settings, Control Center, then Customize Controls. There’ll be a list of functionalities your iPhone can perform.
Peruse them until you find a small, red circular button labeled “Screen Recording”. Tap the small green cross to add it to the Control Centre’s roster (a red button will appear to its left), and you’re away.
To activate screen recording, tap the icon with two concentric circles – see bottom left of the screenshot on the right, below.
Screenshot with Android
Before Android 10, there were plenty of third-party screen recording apps and even some workarounds in Androids’ game launcher. But now, there’s a screen record feature just like the iPhone.
To access screen record on Android:
Android users can open the Snap that they’re interested in screenshotting, then pull down from the top of their phone to access the control panel.
Swipe and locate the Screen Record function and hit record. A countdown will begin and you will have successfully captured an image of the Snap to your phone.
Tap the stop icon to end the recording and a screenshot alert will not appear. This workaround is still working as of December 2020 on Android.
The only time you can’t initiate a screen recording is when you’re in the middle of viewing a snap, so it’s best to glean whether or not a snap will warrant recording before you open.
Be wary, there are instances in which the sender will be notified if you’ve screenshotted/recorded their photo/video. If you’re currently in a preceding version of the app, you can screen record correspondents’ content safe in the knowledge they’re none the wiser to your duplicitous ways. Your best bet is to test it out on another friend’s Snap (someone who doesn’t care that you’re taking screenshots) before trying it.
Using Airplane Mode – Does it Work?
There used to be one simple workaround for taking screenshots, but of course, like any good developer, Snapchat realized the workaround and snuffed it out. To get to the point; no, this workaround doesn’t work anymore.
Based on our tests in December of 2020, Snapchat alerted our dear recipient every single time we took a screenshot.
What we tried:
- Turn Airplane Mode on, turn Wifi off, open the Snap, and screenshot.
- Turn Airplane Mode on, keep Wifi on, open the Snap and screenshot.
- Open the Snap, then turn Airplane Mode on.
- Close Snapchat, turn Airplane Mode on, then re-open the app and screenshot.
As you can see, no matter what we did, the screenshot notification appeared.
Of course, if you’re running an older version of Snapchat you may be able to get away with it. We’ll leave the instructions here just be mindful; try it out on a close friend first.
To take a screenshot without notifying anyone, do this:
- Open Snapchat and head to the snap, but don’t open it up just yet. It should still say “New Snap”
- Let Snapchat run in the background while you head over to settings and enter Airplane Mode
- Go to the Snap you’d like to capture and take your screenshot. DON’T go out of Airplane Mode yet
- Back out of the Snap and go to your profile icon in the upper right-hand corner
- Tap on the settings cog in the upper right-hand corner
- Tap ‘Clear Cache’ under ‘Account Actions’ and tap ‘Clear All’
- Once you’ve cleared the Cache you can close Snapchat and turn Airplane Mode off.
Disclaimer: If you didn’t already know it, this is totally morally dubious. Even if it is just a hysterically unflattering selfie of your recently initiated grandparents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to screenshot someone’s Snapchat content?
While we’ve mentioned that it is morally frowned upon to screenshot someone’s Snapchat uploads, it is not necessarily illegal to do so. The legality of such an action really depends on quite a few factors.
The simple act of taking a screenshot is not illegal. The basis for this is that anyone who uses the app is knowingly putting something on the internet for you to see.
Now, what you do with the screenshot is another matter. Aside from the possible civil repercussions (someone may have a viable lawsuit against you depending on copyright infringement), there are some very serious legal consequences you could face.
The first serious legal issue you could run into is what did you screenshot? Assuming it’s an explicit picture of a minor, just the possession of such an image can get you in lifelong trouble.
The second of which is extortion, taking an image of someone without their consent and telling them you’ll share it if they don’t comply with your demands has very recently been in the news.
There are other legal ramifications (we aren’t lawyers so we won’t dive too deep into the subject) of screenshotting someone’s content on Snapchat but it’s also worth mentioning that you could find yourself banned from using the app. If the person whose content you’ve captured finds out, they could report you to Snapchat, therefore your account could be deactivated for violating the community guidelines.
Can I delete a snap after sending it?
If you’ve read this article and have decided that you’d like to recall something you sent to another user on Snapchat, it is possible. Go to your messages and long-press the Snap or message.
A pop-up menu will appear and you can tap ‘Delete.’ Once you’ve confirmed, the Snap will disappear (although the other user will see that you have deleted something). Assuming the person has opened the Snap yet, you’re probably safe. But if they have opened it and taken a screenshot, there isn’t a way to get it back.
Why does Snapchat include screenshot notifications?
Screenshot notifications are becoming more prominent with app development. iPhone for example now notifies users if someone screenshots their FaceTime call. Developers are now including these features on the basis that users should preserve some semblance of internet privacy.
While Snapchat can’t prevent you from taking a screenshot altogether, they can at least let the other person know about it. As a Snapchat user, it’s best to simply avoid putting anything online that you don’t want everyone to see.