When an app becomes as popular as Snapchat has, there begins to be some expectation that it’ll grow to support more platforms than what it started out on. Sadly, there’s still no way to run Snapchat natively on Macs (or Windows PCs, for that matter), but Appamatix is here with a step-by-step guide that will show you how to get a version of Snapchat up and running on your Macbook, Macbook Pro, or iMac. It’s easy, it’s direct, and if you’re worried about the legality of this workaround, you don’t need to be!
To say that Snapchat’s popularity has exploded across its homes on Android devices and iPhones would be something of an understatement. It’s truly the only app of its kind, and if you haven’t signed up for it yet (or worse, haven’t even heard of it) then I applaud your ability to escape the zeitgeist that is the world of social media.
Snapchat, at its heart, is a messaging app, but it’s built upon media in a unique way that goes beyond taking and sharing pictures and videos. Whereas Instagram and Facebook feature social media feeds that are both persistent and somewhat static (unless someone chooses to delete a post), Snapchat media is fleeting. When you take a “Snap” and choose to send it to your contacts, then it’s already been given a short time to live; Snaps last between 3 to 10 seconds, only, and once they’ve been viewed by an individual, they’re gone for good. There are ways to save Snaps for short periods of time, but by and large, the media that makes up Snapchat is meant to be fast and quickly digestible; just like the moments in your life that they’re taken from! The app encourages creativity and allows you to use lenses, filters, stickers, and other fun, fast markup tools to add special effects to your Snaps before sending them.
There are further nuances to explore in the app, however, but that’s the heart of the Snapchat experience, and it has been since the app’s inception. Recently, however, Snapchat has expanded its feature set to include those tools most often reserved for more straightforward messages services. It now allows you to make video and audio calls between your contacts, and the direct messaging system can almost serve as a replacement to your standard SMS text messaging if you want it to.
Snapchat in 2016, then, is something of a workhorse, and it has more form and function than many apps that reach this height of popularity. One might also think that this would have led to it growing onto other platforms, such as Windows or Mac OS X, but sadly, that hasn’t been the case. It’s understandable to those of us who’ve used Snapchat–it just wouldn’t work as well on laptop or desktop computer. It’s meant to be as mobile and active as you are, and for the most part, it succeeds at that when it’s on Android devices and iPhones.
That doesn’t mean there’s no way to accomplish that, though; we have a tried and true method of bringing Snapchat into the computer, and it’s called emulation.
We’ve written about emulators–specifically Android emulators–many times before on Appamatix. Still, in spite of how often we cover them, they’re by no means a mainstream type of software that everyone is already accustomed to. For many, emulators are a new thing entirely.
When you run an emulator, you’re using your computer’s resources to simulate a virtual environment that’s identical to a different operating system. In this case, we’ll be using your Mac’s resources to emulate the Android operating system, which is going to allow us to emulate the Android version of Snapchat. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry–it’s actually remarkably simple. All that we’re going to have to do is find the right emulator for you, which isn’t a difficult task since the majority of emulation software applications don’t differ too wildly from each other.
Many people wonder why we aren’t just emulating iOS since we’re going to be running it on a Mac. The answer lies in Apple’s proprietary software and hardware, which makes any Apple software extremely difficult to emulate. Since this type of software is all third-party developed, it’s understandable that they’d choose a more flexible operating system from which to run apps–like Android!
Finding the Right Emulator
The right emulator is the one that appeals the most to you, but while all of them differ slightly, they all perform the same basic function–to create a virtual Android OS from which you can run apps. Some of them have paid options, but most of them are entirely free.
- Bluestacks is the most popular emulator out there, and usually one of the first that I highly recommend for new users. It’s user-friendly, marketed well, and very simple to get started with. As you’ll see from the website, it’s primarily marketed towards Android gamers, but it can handle almost any Android app that you throw at it. The base version is free, but a meager subscription fee will remove the accompanying third-party advertising software.
- When not recommending the above choice, I tell people to go with Andyroid, which is my personal go-to emulator. I enjoy its minimalistic aesthetic and speedy updates. It also comes with a handy system tray manager (aptly titled “Handy Andy”) that will allow you to manage settings on the fly.
- If you’re not able to freely install software on your computer, then Manymo is probably the right choice for you. It’s a browser-based emulator that requires no software installation but does require you to have the .apk (application) file of any apps that you want to use. These are easily found through a quick Google search. The free version of Manymo gives you 10 limited duration uses per month, but a $9.99 subscription fee allows you a great deal more usage.
The list could go on and on, but we’ll leave it at that, for now. Any of these three emulators will work just fine for accessing Snapchat, so check them out! Bluestacks and Andyroid are very easy to download and install on your computer, while Manymo will remain rooted to your browser.
Snapchat on Your Mac
Once you have your emulator installed, there are only two other things you’re going to be required to have before we proceed.
- You need to have a Google account in order to sign into the Google Play store on your emulator. This can be had by setting up a free Gmail email address.
- Set up a Snapchat profile from your smartphone, where Snapchat is meant to run natively. If you already have a Snapchat account in the works, you’re going to have an easier time emulating it.
Once you have those two things, boot up your emulator! It probably looks very similar to an Android home screen, and for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what we’re going to treat it like. Go ahead and click over to the Google Play store and search for “Snapchat.” It’ll be the first app to show up in your search query, and should be easy to download and install in your emulator.
After that, it’s a simple matter of signing into your Snapchat account and getting started with the app as you normally would–this time, from the comfort of your Mac! You’ll have access to all of Snapchat’s features since the emulators above all have microphone and camera support.
Of course, most of your Snapchat activity is probably going to take place on a smartphone. Since the app was designed to run natively on mobile devices, most of its features tend to cater to those types of features most readily available on Android devices and iPhones. Still, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of fun to be had when you’re running Snapchat on your Mac, especially since the apps developers have recently added so many handy messaging and calling features.
Keep in mind that you’re probably only going to remain signed in on one device at a time, which means that you’ll need to do a little bit of maneuvering each time you want to switch from one device to another. This is only a small obstacle, however, for the level of accessibility that you’ve given yourself with an emulator.
And who knows? Maybe we’ll see a Mac or PC version of Snapchat sometime in the near future when those less mobile platforms have a way to contribute to the fast, lively, expression-driven activity on Snapchat. Until then, we’ll have to rely on emulation in order to bridge these two types of devices. We can at least be thankful that it remains simple, and the above guide should have Snapchat up and running on your Macbook, Macbook Pro, or iMac in no time at all. If you still have any lingering questions, or simply want to tell us about your experience, don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!