Note: This article was originally published on September 7th, 2015. It’s been updated to feature the newest Snapchat updates as of May 9th, 2016.
So, you have a new Snapchat account? That’s great. Snapchat is quickly becoming one of the most popular messaging apps, because with those self-deleting messages (or Snaps), they have something completely distinct from every other messaging service out there.
But what do all those fan-dangled colorful squares and arrows mean? How do I use this blasted Snapchat app? What’s the meaning behind all these Snapchat icons? And why am I an 1840s Gold Rush prospector? For the answers to these questions and many more, (but really just the one about the icons), read on!
We’ve written about Snapchat before. Just recently we came out with an article detailing how to delete your Snapchat account. And some time ago, we talked about the exclusive Snapchat-only emojis. Now, we’re going to let you know what the Snapchat icons mean.
We’ve gone through the library of Snapchat icons and have researched their meanings, so we can tell you what each and every one of these Snapchat icons means.
Each generation wants new new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors. — Jim Morrison
Snapchat Icons and Their Meanings
First, let’s familiarize ourselves with the six different categories of icons: Sent, Opened, Received, Viewed, Screenshot, and Replay. That’s a bunch of words that maybe don’t mean anything…yet. Basically, these categories all relate to the different ways you can interact with Snapchat, Snapchat Snaps, and your Snapchat friends.
Within each of these categories, you’ll also notice that colors repeat… the colors don’t just repeat, but they also have specific meanings attached to them. But that’s something better discussed as it comes up. So without any further ado, let’s delve a little deeper into the world of Snapchat Icons.
Our first set of icons are the “Sent” Icons. This is on your end of the deal. These are for the Snaps and Chats that you have sent to other people. (We’ll get to the Snaps and Chats you’ve received in a minute. Also, let’s assume these people are your friends.) Within this category, you may see any one of these three icons:
This redish/raspberry-colored fully filled-in arrow means you’ve sent a Snap without audio. Again, this is on your end of the chat, you’ve sent a picture of your ugliest face. You’ll see as we explore other icons, redish/raspberry is used for all Snaps and Chats that don’t have sound.
The purple fully-filled-in arrow represents a Snap with audio. You must have sent a small portion of your boss cursing at you or a girl in front of you walking down the hall and tripping. As you’ll see, purple Snapchat icons are consistently used for Snaps and Chats with audio.
The blue filled-in arrow means a sent Chat message. A Chat is different from a Snap. You can start a Chat with a friend via text or video. It’s similar to Facetime or Skype but Snapchat style, where everything is deleted by Snapchat unless there is info that you save. All other blue icons represent Chat.
The next category of icons is the “Opened” Icons. These let you know when someone has not only received but also opened your Snap or Chat. These give you a heads up so you know the real fun is about to ensue. You’ll immediately recognize these icons as the open arrows. You see what they did there? Eh? Pretty clever stuff. Open arrows…opened Snap…okay, you get it.
The redish/raspberry outlined arrow indicates a friend opened a Snap without audio. That Snap you sent while on the roller-coaster without the sound of you screaming like a little baby child; yeah, they just saw that. Remember, red is no audio. Is it me or is it starting to look more orange? What the heck color is this?
The purple outlined arrow tells you a friend opened a Snap with audio. It’s getting easier, right? Purple represents with audio and open arrow represents your friend opened it.
The blue outlined arrow lets you know a friend has read the Chat that you have sent to them. There’s no taking it back now. All you can do now is anxiously await their
The green arrow. Wait, hold the phone. GREEN? You said nothing about green! I was just getting the hang of this! Shhhh, calm down, it’s okay, you’re okay. There’s this feature called Snapcash. Snapchat partnered up with Square (squareup.com, a credit card processing and business solutions business. You know the little sleek-looking white squares people at local businesses have on their phone or the white stand that they run your credit card thru when you purchase something? What? You don’t shop local? Shame on you.) to make it to where anyone with Snapchat who links a debit card can send or receive money from anyone else with a debit card linked to Snapchat.
Now, as I was saying, the GREEN empty arrow means a friend viewed and received Cash. Hopefully, you were in your right mind when you sent it. All the business having to do with Snapcash goes directly thru Square so take it up with them.
We now come to the portion of the Snapping experience where YOU have received something. Why does your friend have all the fun? These are the “Received” Icons. You’ll see one of these blocks of color when you get a Snap or a Chat.
The Red (I’m just gonna calls it likes I sees it) square with rounded edges means you’ve gotten some Snaps (or maybe just one) that have no sound. Remember red is synonymous with no sound. Open dem Snaps!
The purple happy fun square tells you that the Snap you’ve received (or at least one of them, in the case of Stories) has sound.. Proceed with caution. Purple equals possible embarrassment from loud noises escaping your phone.
The blue not-square but square-looking, block-looking Q which is a fat shaded-in blue comic thought or speech-bubble means you have received a Chat. All things blue are all things Chat and this one means you got one! Huzzah! You’re popular!
The following icons let you know that this is a Snap you’ve already seen. Enjoy these icons while they last, because those Snaps are going away pretty soon. Still, in the ADD culture of social media, it’s nice to be reminded that yes, you have read this thing within the last thirty seconds.
Once again, the red (!) icon is used for Snaps that don’t have sound, and this is a Snap without sound that you’ve already seen.
We add sound, and we have another purple icon. So, an empty purple box reminds you that this is a Snap you’ve already seen and listened to.
Finally (for this category) we have the blue… dialogue box. Why is this a dialogue box and not a square? Is it too good for squareness? Anyway, this is for Chats that you’ve already viewed.
Coming up are probably the most important icons of the entire list. These icons let you know that your Snap has not only been seen… some jerk you sent it to has taken a screenshot. Depending on the sensitivity of the… information you’ve sent (we’ll call it that), this let’s you know who you may need to unfriend. Or maybe lets you know to get your lawyer prepped.
This (pink?) icon tells you that a screenshot has been taken of a Snap without audio that you sent. I’m not entirely sure what to call this shape. It looks like there was some sort of transporter accident with the Star Trek symbol and the fast-forward / rewind buttons on your remote control.
Once again, purple is for Snaps with audio, and this lets you know that one of these Snaps has had a screenshot taken. Of course, I doubt the screenshot has preserved the audio… so you’ve got that going for you.
And the blue Star-Trek-forward icon lets you know that someone you’ve sent a particular Chat to has taken a screenshot of it. Man, you need better friends.
Snapchat’s Replay feature is one of its better kept secrets… but we’ve talked about it before. Basically, after you’ve viewed a Snap, there’s a dialogue box that will give you the option to replay if you press and hold. However, you can’t just do this left and right: you only get one replay every 24 hours. Also, you can only replay a Snap immediately after seeing it. So, no looking at another Snap, getting out of the app, or switching to another app before watching the replay. If you don’t hit replay immediately after watching the Snap… you don’t get a replay.
This… puce (magenta?) loop icon is not the Ourobouros… the mythical snake that devours its own tail for eternity. This it the icon that lets you know that the Snap you sent (the one without audio) has been replayed. Good job, you! You’ve sent out something truly side-splitting, or notable enough that one of your friends has decided to use their one daily replay.
This purple loop is the same as the above, but it’s for Snaps that do have sound. So this lets you know that that has been replayed. And probably in front of your ex.
Do you notice a distinct absence of blue loops? I mean, it makes sense… you don’t need to replay a Chat, since it’s just words. I guess I just miss the blue icons. Also, don’t you wish there were a green loop that would let you double the amount of money a friend has just sent you? Yeah, I don’t think that one’s happening in the near future, either.
What’s New in Snapchat: 2016
Less than a year has passed, but leave it to Snapchat to never stop moving! As expected the app has continued to grow in size, scope, and the number of features that it makes available to its millions of users. This has included changes to existing functions in the app, the addition of entirely new actions, and the addition of…you guessed it: more icons! We’ll give a rundown of what’s changed and what’s new, to hopefully give you a better idea of how to make navigating Snapchat a headache-free experience.
Some things have changed, some things have grown, and some things are brand new!
- Lenses are now free, all of the time. That’s right; the lens store has been axed in favor or a system that rotates lenses in and out of use for all users, all of the time. Of course, if you bought any lenses while the shop was active, you do get to keep them! Cheers to puking rainbows any day of the week!
- The “Chat 2.0” update added stickers (more on these below) as well as audio and video calling between you and your friends. This is a huge move on part of Snapchat, because it helps to bridge the gap between its image as a “fun, youthful” app to something that’s honestly on-par with other communication platforms. Way to go, Snapchat!
- Geofilters can now be created and shared on-demand, but only after being put through Snapchat approval, and only after paying $5. For that small fee, you’ll get 30 minutes of custom Geofilter distribution time in a specific Geofence of your choosing!
New additions to Snapchat’s existing icons and emoji have come primarily in two forms: stickers, of which there are more than 200, and also “friend emojis,” which show up next to your contacts to indicate your particular levels of activity with certain people.
Stickers require no unlocking and are simply available through the newest addition to the main Snapchat screen. As of the March 2016 update, there are 200 stickers for you to choose from, and they can each be placed, resized, and rotated on your Snaps.
Friend emoji have been the subject of our writing here at Appamatix in recent months. They appear next to the names of your contacts to let you know certain things about your relationship with them. New friends get a baby face, best friends get sunglasses. Streaks get rewarded with fire and red numbers, to let you know your progress. Check out our article, and also, take a gander at the emoji in the above image!
So this has been our rundown on the Snapchat icons and what they mean. We hope this makes your Snapchat experience a bit less of a headache. If you have any questions, you can head over to the Snapchat support page, but you’ll probably have better luck by posting a comment to the article. Nothing too long, though. Keep it snappy.