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As posted on Everything you need to know to master Snapchat’s new search bar

For years, one of the biggest criticisms of Snapchat has been that the app’s intentionally unintuitive design makes it difficult to use, particularly for new users. While longtime users are well-acquainted with the app’s swipe-based interface and other quirks, it could be difficult for newcomers (and, let’s be honest, older users) to grasp.

Some of that is now changing.

Earlier this week, Snapchat officially rolled out its latest update, which added a search bar that makes it much easier to find things within the app — although it does take some time to get right. 

The good news, however, is that once you get used to it, you can actually save quite a bit of time as it reduces the need to swipe around to different parts of the app. Here’s a look at everything you need to know to master Snapchat’s new search. 

The basics

The search bar can help you find conversations, contacts, friends, live stories and just about anything else you’d expect to find in the main section of the app. You can use this a few different ways, either as a shortcut to find specific group conversations or friends you already follow, or as a way to search for new friends.

Though some have dubbed it “universal search,” there are a few things you can’t find from the main search bar. Searching items in Memories, for example, still requires that you first navigate to the Memories section of the app (from there you can search for specific photos you have previously saved). You also can’t search the text of your chats or for items within, say, the settings menu. 

You can search with emoji

If a friend uses an emoji in their username or emoji are used in the title of a group chat, then searching for that emoji will surface the relevant person or conversation. You may recall that Snapchat also uses emoji as its own form of verification for official accounts. In that case, it will surface the relevant celebrity (or celebrities) associated with that emoji.

You can watch stories from public accounts you don’t follow

Speaking of verified accounts, Snapchat’s search also allows you access the public-facing stories of verified users, even if you haven’t formally followed them in the app. Search for a celeb and a thumbnail will appear next to the add button if they have a current story. Tap into the story and you can watch without actually adding them.

We should note that this appears to apply to both officially verified accounts as well as normal accounts with public-facing stories. So, keep in mind that if you have your story set to be viewable by everyone, even those who don’t follow you can see it. (Note that if you have your story set to friends only, friends will also be able to view your story via search.)

New Friends and Quick Add

In the search menu, you’ll also notice a lower section that has three different menus: New Friends, Quick Add and contacts. These provide shortcuts to different people Snapchat predicts you may want to interact with.

New friends, as the name suggests, surfaces friends you have recently added. Contacts, on the other hand, shows people in your contacts who you haven’t yet added or those who you may want to invite to the app.

Likewise, the Quick Add section surfaces follow suggestions based on mutual friends and people you have recently added in your address book (the app displays this context under their username.) 

Live Stories and Discover

Besides individual accounts and your own chats, you can also search for Discover publishers as well as live stories. There are a few different ways you can use this. You can search directly for a publisher or live story, like “NBA,” which would surface both the NBA’s publisher as well as any relevant live stories.

Or, you can also search by story title. For example, search for “Trump” and you can also see any relevant live story with the name in the title. However, this doesn’t apply to content within publisher channels, so searching for “Trump” won’t surface individual stories within Discover pages. 

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