Snapchat is the rare social media app that never made the jump from mobile to desktop. Instagram has a web app, WhatsApp has a desktop app, but, until now, you always needed your phone by your side if you wanted to Snap. Starting today, though, you can pick up those conversations on your Mac or PC, whether you’re sending a quick photo to a friend, or joining a video call with a group.
This isn’t necessarily “news,” however. Snapchat has offered a web app since July for Snapchat+ subscribers. For $3.99 per month, you could have been snapping friends from your laptop since mid-summer. Of course, if you didn’t do that, you just saved eight bucks, since Snap Inc. officially rolled the feature out to everyone today.
To start, you’ll need to be using the latest version of Chrome or Microsoft Edge. No, Snapchat doesn’t have a Mac or PC app, so it’s the web app for you. Go to web.snapchat.com, then log in with your username and password. If you have two-factor authentication set up (which you definitely should) you’ll need to enter the code.
Next, you’ll need to confirm your account in the Snapchat app on your iPhone or Android. You can tap the notification that appears on your mobile device, then tap “Yes” on the prompt. (It should go without saying, but if you ever see this alert pop up on Snapchat and you aren’t trying to sign into your account on the web app, do not hit “Yes.” Tap “No.”)
Once everything goes through, you’ll be greeted by a welcome page featuring your Snapchat avatar. Click “Get Started,” then give Snapchat permission to access your computer’s webcam and microphone. If the camera doesn’t turn on automatically, you can click on the big camera icon in the middle of the screen to enable it.
From here, it’s really just Snapchat, in a more limited, distilled form. You can take snaps (with or without lenses), send them to individual friends or to group chats, and start video or audio calls at any time. You can’t, however, view Snap Map, Stories, Discover, Spotlight, or your snap archive. More importantly, however, you can’t open snaps on your computer. You can send them to your heart’s content, but if you receive one, you’ll need to pick up your phone to check it out. That’s a bit of a bummer.
Obviously, if you care about those missing features, especially opening snaps, the web app won’t feel exactly like the Snapchat you know and love. I don’t think that’s exactly the point here, though. Maybe in the future Snap will add things like opening snaps and stories to the web app, but, right now, Snapchat on the web seems designed to help you move conversations from mobile to desktop and back again.