Snapchat Snap Camera for Windows & Mac – How Does it Work?

Snapchat is more than just a social media platform—it’s a convenient, easy-to-use messaging app. With it, you’re able to send photos and videos to your friends with the tap of a button! Fun and silly, it allows you to take selfies to the next level. How? Through the use of filters and lens.

If anything, it’s one of the app’s most popular features. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, different lenses allow you to add different effects to your snap. In other words, you can use them to jazz up your photo or video. Some of them even make use of face recognition technology! It’s really quite amazing.

More About How Snapchat Works

Snapchat was launched in 2011. In the beginning, they gained popularity for allowing users to send “disappearing messages.” Over time, however, they have placed a greater emphasis on stickers, filters, and augmented reality objects. 

The way it works, users must download the Snapchat app to their mobile device. Once it’s installed, they’ll have the opportunity to connect with their friends and family—the ones that are already on the platform. By using the front and rear-facing cameras, users are able to send “snaps” with the tap of a button. Super straightforward, the interface has since attracted more than 187 million users across the world.

Is Snapchat Mobile Only?

Since its release, many users have pondered the same thing—”Is Snapchat mobile only? Can you use it anywhere else?” The answer is yes. You can download the app to your iPad or other tablets. However, there’s no way to use it in a browser, or on your desktop.

…that is, until last year. Last October, Snapchat released a new feature—the Snap Camera. Long awaited, the application allows users to use and play with their lens from a desktop. There’s a catch, though, it only allows you to use the filters. Unlike the mobile version, it doesn’t function as a messaging app.

A Closer Look at the Snap Camera: What Is It?

The Snap Camera is a free app that is designed for desktop. As mentioned earlier, it allows you to enjoy the fun of lenses while you’re on your computer (as opposed to your phone).

Once you install it, you’ll be able to choose and play around with thousands of filters—both ones made from Snapchat and those by the Lens Creator community.

What Can You Use the Snap Camera For?

One of the best things about the Snap Camera is that you can use it for live streaming. For instance, it’ll allow you to stream a game on Twitch with bunny ears on your head. It’s easy—all you have to do is connect the Snap Camera extension to your account. In fact, there’s an official extension that you can get for your browser that will do everything for you. It’ll even let you control the filters with different hot keys. How cool is that?

Aside from Twitch, you can integrate the app with YouTube, Facebook Live, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and more. Essentially, you can use it with any type of video streaming or calling platform. All you have to do is set the Snap Camera to your input camera (on a Mac, you’ll find this option under the “Camera” setting at the top of the screen).

Unfortunately, however, it is not compatible with Facetime. Despite their best efforts, Apple simply did not give them the go-ahead. Maybe in the future? Who knows.

How Do I Install the Snap Camera on Windows and Mac?

You can download the app from their official website here

Press on the yellow “download” button and you’ll be brought to a screen with a license agreement. Scroll to the bottom, enter your e-mail address, complete the captcha, and press download (remember to pick the right one for your operating system!).

Wait for the download to finish—it really shouldn’t take that long. From there, you can open up the installer. Choose your install location and press “install.” Within a few seconds, the software will be ready to be used on your desktop.

What Operating Systems Is it Compatible With?

You’ll be happy to know that the Snap Camera is compatible with both PCs and Macs. With that said, there are a few requirements that you have to meet. More specifically, your desktop must be MacOS 10.11 or newer or Windows 7 SP1 (64bit) or newer. As it is, the app will not work with older systems. 

How Do I Use Snap Camera?

Once you’ve installed the Snap Camera, you can launch it from your applications folder. Within seconds, the program should come up on your screen. Assuming that your desktop has a camera, you should be able to see yourself in the app (the green light will also come on).

At the bottom, you’ll see a list of Snapchat lens and filters that you can play around with. See one that you like? Press on it and the effect will automatically activate. For instance, puppy ears will appear on your head if you click on the “dog” filter. Really, it works the exact same way as the mobile app.

Want to go for a different look? Simply select a different lens from the list. Most, if not all of them, will work as soon as you click on them. Try moving your eyes and mouth. Chances are, the movements will activate some sort of effect with the filters.

Another great thing about the Snap Camera is that it allows you to turn the lens on and off whenever. Want to use an effect for just a few seconds in a video? No problem—just turn it off when you want it to be off. 

Is the Video Going to be Flipped Around?

You might notice that what you see on your screen is actually flipped around. Don’t worry, though. Your actual video won’t be. If you go into “settings”, you’ll be able to turn off the “flip video preview” option. In doing so, what you see on your screen will be what others will be able to see.

Searching For Different Lenses and Filters to Use

As mentioned earlier, a list of featured filters will come up as soon as you launch the app. Don’t see the one that you’re looking for? Why not search for it?

On the right-hand side, you’ll notice that there is a search bar. You can easily use it to search through their thousands of lenses. Once the results come up, all you have to do is click on it to activate it! You should have no problem finding the filter that you want.

Windows & Mac Snap Camera FAQ’s

Can You Save Lenses on Snap Camera?

As with the mobile app, all of the lenses that you use will disappear after 48 hours—yes, even if you set it to a hotkey. Once the time is up, it will “reset” back to stock. Unfortunately, there is no way around this. Your best bet is simply to save the links.

How Do You Use Your Own Lens with Snap Camera?

The easiest way to find your lens on the app is through tags. In other words, you want to always add tags when you’re publishing filters to the system.

How Do I Make Lenses for Snap Camera?

The same way that you make them for the original Snapchat app! You can use Len Studio to create and publish filters online. You can learn more on their website.

How Do I Share a Lens That I’m Using?

Turn on the “Show Snapcode overlay” option in Snap Camera’s settings. This will allow your viewers to see and unlock the lens with the app.