Snapchat is the social networking app of choice for today’s youngsters, being cooler and more innovative than Facebook. It also has some unique features, like the fact that messages disappear after being read. Want to get up to speed with the app everyone’s talking about? Read on…

[Read more: Snapchat explained]

How to download Snapchat

First of all, you’ll need to download the Snapchat app. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and is free to download and use (though it does offer some in-app purchases). If you can download it over Wi-Fi, you’ll save using up your monthly data allowance, so find a Wi-Fi network if you can.

How to set up Snapchat

Setting up Snapchat is simple. Just follow the instructions that appear on-screen. You’ll have to enter you name, date of birth, email address, phone number, and choose a username.

Snapchat screenshot setup

Snapchat will text you a code that you have to enter – do so, and you’re all done. Now it’s time to start finding friends.

How to follow people in Snapchat

You can either start searching for people manually, or choose to import your contacts and see which of them are on Snapchat. Choose the latter, and it’ll bring up a list of all your contacts who are on Snapchat. Click one, and you’ll be able to add them as a friend. You can also search for someone using their Snapchat ‘handle’ (i.e. their username) or by scanning their Snapcode (a QR code they can show you in person or post to a website).

Snapchat screenshot following

Once you’ve added someone as a friend, you’ll see what they post and be able to exchange messages with them. But you won’t be able to send them a message unless they add you as a friend in return.

[Read more: Snapchat Spectacles arrive - glasses with an integrated camera for snapping on-the-go]

How to send a Snapchat message

Like most social networking apps, Snapchat lets you send messages to other users. Click Chat in the bottom-left corner of the screen, and it’ll bring up a list of friends on Snapchat you can chat with. Tap the circle icon and you can send them a ‘snap’ (ie. a photo), which is one of the most-used features of Snapchat (and where it gets its name from). You can chat with a group of friends at once, and you can perform voice and video calls, too.

Snapchat screenshot send message

One-to-one chats are automatically deleted once you’ve both left the chat. In group chats, they disappear after 24 hours. Want to save a chat for posterity? Just press and hold on the screen and it’ll save it. And you can screengrab them too.

You can also add some style to your chats using bold, underline and italics. Just press and hold a piece of text and choose the relevant option. Happy Snapchatting!

Read more: Snapchat – what parents need to know about the photo-sharing social network