Note: This article was first published on April 10th, 2015. It has been updated as of May 8th, 2016, to bring new information on Snapchat’s recent updates as well as further emulator recommendations.
Snapchat is one of the more interesting messaging apps out there — and given the competition, that’s saying a lot. It’s got a really novel approach — the time-sensitive, self-deleting snap — which has made it the go-to app for private conversations (though it’s just as useful for frequent texters who don’t want months and months of now irrelevant conversations and pictures clogging up their phones).
However, I’m a Mac user (let’s get that out there right up front), and one of the greatest things about Mac (especially since Yosemite) is the ability to use the same suite of apps from device to device, and even have your documents and conversations carry over.
I love that when I’m at my computer, if I get a text, I don’t have to go get my phone (it’s usually on the charger when it’s at home because, you know, iPhone batteries); I can just open up my messages there on my computer. So, now that I’m getting spoiled by this cross-platform functionality, I want it in everything I do. Unfortunately, it only works for a few of the apps that Apple themselves put out. Not on all of them, and certainly not on third-party apps like Snapchat. However, just because there is no official Snapchat for Mac doesn’t mean you have to accept the limitation. Luckily, there is a super easy way around this common problem that I’ll show you below.
Probably the best part of this trick is that it’s completely free and requires no registration or advanced knowledge about computers. I’ll walk you through step by step your options and a few tips to make sure you don’t fall into the same problems so many other people have in the past.
On top of all that, you will have all the functionality and use as if you were on your iPhone or Android, but you can enjoy the larger screen and ease of use with being on a Mac instead of a smartphone.
“Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over IBM versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs.” – Jack Lynch
Why Get Snapchat For Mac?
I thought you’d never ask. There are a ton of advantages to getting Snapchat for Mac. The primary reason I believe most people seek out using their Mac is simply because of convenience. Convenience is a large and powerful force behind most of the apps and the current app economy. For instance, when you first start using Snapchat it’s fun and new and easy to use. The developers don’t want the app to be a complicated chore, because when it becomes, say 10% less convenient, you’re suddenly 90% less likely to use it. (Those numbers are based entirely on my own personal preferences, and aren’t backed up by any market research. If you have seen research on this, though, please let me know; I’d love to see it.)
Eventually, you start to build relationships on Snapchat and want to continue those conversations no matter where you are and what device you’re on. You want flexibility and control of your mobile life. Like I said above, Mac fosters this sort of flexibility in most of its native ecosystem. Unfortunately, Snapchat has not seen the calling for creating a stand alone computer version and therefore we’re stuck with using a work around to satisfying what we want. I mean, it might make sense after a fashion: most people use their messaging apps only from their phones, so they can share thoughts and images of what they are out there doing. And that’s still primarily where I use Snapchat. But sometimes, I just want to check up on my friends, and I hate the idea of being glued to my phone when I am sitting at my (far superior) computer.
Another helpful reason is that you will trade an iPhone display for a display many times larger depending on whether you have a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, or iMac. Having a larger display means you will be able to view your friend’s snap even larger.
Lastly, I would suggest using Snapchat on your Mac computer because often times you’re stuck with using your computer when you’re at work, school, etc. Say you’re sitting in class and want to Snap a friend but you are not allowed to use cell phones. Or else, you’re at your desk (and your monitor is, of course, positioned away from the door) and you need a little bit of a “brain break.” If somebody walks by and you’ve got your phone out, you look like you’re goofing off. But if they walk by and you’re just at your computer (especially if you’ve mastered the eyebrows furrowed / slow nod / “Yes, I’m working” face), nobody has to know you’re taking a breather. (It is, just a breather, right?) At this point, you want Snapchat, not on your phone, but on your computer. You’re welcome!
What Are The Snapchat Features?
Here’s where things get a little less clear when we’re discussing features. When you follow the trick below I can guarantee that you will be able to view Snaps, view your account, settings, profile, etc. You will also be able to replay snaps and chat with someone that just sent you a message.
However, I can’t guarantee that the camera on your Macbook will work with Snapchat. Most new Mac computers work perfectly with the camera but if you have an older laptop you may find that it doesn’t work as well as you’d like. The only way to be certain is to try it out and see if it actually works or not. If you find it giving you an error, try to update your Mac graphics card driver as that may cause problems.
Beyond that, everything else should be the same on your iPhone or Android as it is on your Mac. One big difference that you’ll notice is that there is no way to swipe on a Mac so you’ll have to compromise by tapping instead.
Download Snapchat For Mac
Now to the fun part that you’ve been waiting for, but first there are a few caveats and a few disclaimers to make sure this works for you as well as it did for me. Make sure you do the following before downloading the emulator.
TIP: You will want to make sure you have a Google Play account before you go through the steps below. The reason is because you will need to use your Google Play account to download the Snapchat apk and get that on your emulator. As of now, there is no emulator that works well for iOS so you’ll still have to go through the Google method even though you want to use it on a Mac.
What is an Android Emulator?
The method that I recommend using is by downloading an Android emulator, which basically installs the Android platform onto your Mac so you can use it to run apps just as if they were on an Android device natively. There are a few other sites like Snapped for Mac out there that claim to allow you to use Snapchat on your Mac as a stand alone app but I would NOT recommend using these for a few reasons.
- When you download a separate Snapchat app not through an authorized site then you are violating the Snapchat terms of service.
- Also, if you use a separate app then you are relying on whatever servers that app is using to send and receive your Snap and keep them confidential. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust some random app/site to be secure and trust worthy with my personal information.
- Last is that you’ll find the separate apps to have a lot of bugs and they may crash your computer.
The Android emulator I would recommend using is called Andyroid. It has been by far the easiest to use and seems like it has the best track record without crashing or causing any bugs in the apps. There are a few other emulators out there but whenever I try them they typically crash or simply don’t work.
- First, head over to play.google.com and make sure you sign up for an account if you don’t already have one. Don’t worry about registering a device, you’ll be able to do that once you get Andyroid downloaded on your computer.
- Next, you’ll want to download Andyroid onto your Mac. Just head over to the site and click the download link and the dmg file will automatically download to your computer.
- From there, double click on the .dmg file once it’s downloaded and go through the steps to install the app. Make sure you accept all of the questions if it asks you.
- You will be asked to login to your Google Play account and do that so that you can hopefully go through the one click sync process. If it allows you, you can do 1 click sync to bring all of your apps already on your Android account onto Andyroid. Of course, this only matters if you already have an Android account and use apps with it. If not, just continue with the process.
- The first screen you’ll see looks just like a brand new Android install, just as if you just bought an Android tablet.
- At the bottom right you will notice the Google Play bag icon where you can download apps. Click on it to open the play store.
- Search for Snapchat and when it comes up, click on the install button.
- This will install it onto the emulator desktop where you can double click to open it.
- Simply login to your Snapchat account as you would normally and you’ll now be able to use the app just as you would on your smartphone. Enjoy!
TIP: You’ll be able to login to your Snapchat account on both your phone and Mac and sometimes when you view a Snap on your iPhone, you can go back and view it again on your Mac without it registering that you’ve already seen it. Make sure beforehand that the new Snap is loaded on both devices then view on one then quickly view on the other.
TIP 2: Since Snapchat was built for a phone, it only registers screenshots from a smartphone. Therefore, you can press Shift+Command+4 to pull up the little target icon and you can take a screenshot on your Mac of the Snap. This will not be detected so no worries getting caught ;).
What about Snapchat Online?
You may not be wild about downloading the emulator on your computer and you’d rather stick with an online version. This is a good option if you’re interested in using the app but you’re on a work computer where you’re not supposed to download any software onto it. Alternatively, you can choose to do this option if you’re at an internet cafe and don’t have access to download apps.
Really the only online emulator is called Manymo, which is free for the first couple times but if you use it regularly then you will have to purchase a subscription that allows monthly uses of their emulators depending on how much you use it. Another tip is that you can decide what resolution emulator you’d like to use. I recommend figuring out the resolution of your Mac and choosing an emulator resolution that is as close as popular to that resolution so you get the maximum screen value.
You will still need to head over to Google Play and download the Snapchat apk file so you can upload it onto your online emulator when you sign up. The pain with this option is that you will need to launch the emulator online and upload the app every time you want to use it as opposed to the stand alone app.
Snapchat in 2016
It’s been a little over a year since we discussed the process by which you can gain access to Snapchat on your Mac computer. The only bad news we have to offer in all of that time is that you’re still stuck with the same method–relying upon emulation. The droves of good news come in the form of Snapchat’s various updates that we’ve been able to play around with since April 2015. They’ve changed the Snapchat landscape, shaped the content that you’ll see in the app, and have helped to bring Snapchat into closer competition with other messaging apps on iOS and Android.
New Snapchat Features
March 2016 marked the release of Snapchat’s “Chat 2.0” update, but that was hardly the only addition since we last visited this topic. The tail end of 2015 brought us lenses, which are still one of the app’s most popular features. If you haven’t checked out Snapchat in a while (or you need proper motivation to get it up and running on your Mac) give this list of features a close read:
- Lenses: Smart facial recognition allows you to apply real-time effects to you and your friends’ faces when you’re taking selfies and Snaps. If your social media feeds have featured an abundance of puking rainbows, lately, you have lenses to blame.
- Geofilters on Demand: Remember when Snapchat started letting you submit Geofilters for review? Now you can do it at a premium, and even book a time and location during which your custom-build Geofilter can be distributed. It’ll cost you $5 per filter and you’ll only be given 30 minutes, but this is a stellar feature for hip meetings and parties.
- Audio and Video Calling: Perhaps the pinnacle of Chat 2.0 is this trendy addition. In all of the widespread clamor for a full buffet of ways to communicate with your friends, we were hit with this whammy, which has done more to bring Snapchat up to speed with its competition than any other added feature.
- Stickers: That new little icon on the main Snapchat window? Give it a tap and you’ll be brought to a menu of over 200 stickers, graphics that can be added, resized, and rotated as you see fit on your various Snaps.
These are only the largest, standout additions to the app. Smaller tweaks, adjustments, and updates have continued to fine tune and improve Snapchat beyond what we knew it as in 2015. The best part? We’re not even halfway through 2016, yet.
It’s hard to find a stronger recommendation, still, than Andyroid. It was a stellar emulator back in 2015, and it’s just as efficient and easy-to-use in 2016. Therefore, as far as we’re concerned, it still takes the cake. However, there are a few other recommendations on the market that might deserve some fresh attention for you.
- Bluestacks is the emulator that has everyone talking lately, and it’s only primed to grow more popular. A recent deal made with the widely-used Twitch streaming service will ensure that any competitive multiplayer games based on the Android operating system will likely be emulated through Bluestacks.
- AMIDuOS is another emulator that’s gaining a significant amount of traction among users, largely because of how well it’s justified its price tag. You’ll be paying $10 or $15 depending on if you want the Jellybean or Lollipop releases of Android, but man does this emulator ever cruise. I daresay it’s one of the best optimized pieces of emulation software on the market, but apart from the offered free trial period, it’s going to cost you.
That wraps up this guide and hopefully gave you a good sense of how you can go about using the incredibly popular Snapchat app on your Mac in addition to using it on your iPhone or Android. Do you have any other tips or methods to do this? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below so everyone can benefit and make it work a bit easier.
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