You can say a lot with a snapshot, and that’s the beauty of Snapchat. You can capture quick images or short videos, add captions or filters, and then send them off to as many friends as you’d like. And because your Snaps, by default, get deleted after 24 hours, that makes Snapchat conversations more spontaneous than those on other social networks.
But spontaneous doesn’t always mean simple. Though you can send Snaps with just a few clicks, Snapchat’s interface — particularly the many emoji and symbols it uses as indicators — isn’t quite as straightforward. If you’re confused about what those multicolored hearts next to your friends’ names means, we’re here to help. This is what every icon and symbol in Snapchat means.
Snapchat friend emoji
The emoji that show up next to your friends’ names on your friends list aren’t random — they say something specific about your relationship. This is what each one means:
- Gold heart: You’re #1 best friends with each other, meaning you’ve sent the most Snaps to them and they’ve sent the most Snaps to you. You can have other best friends, but Snapchat’s heart emoji are just for your very best friends, based on how many messages you send back and forth.
- Red heart: You’ve been #1 best friends for two weeks.
- Pink hearts: You’ve been #1 best friends for two months.
- Grimacing face: You share a #1 best friend, meaning you both send most of your messages to the same person.
- Smiling face: You’re best friends, but not #1 best friends. You can have as many as eight best friends, so you’ll see smiles next to the eight friends you send the most messages to.
- Sunglasses face: You share a best friend, so you have a close friend in common.
- Fire: You’re on a Snapstreak! The fire emoji will show up next to the number of consecutive days you’ve sent Snaps to this friend.
- Hourglass: You Snapstreak is about to end, so if you want to keep your fire emoji going you need to send a Snap fast.
Don’t like the default emoji? You can change most of them to anything you would like. To edit your friend emoji, just:
- Tap the profile icon in the top left to open your profile
- Tap the gear icon in the top right to open Settings
- Scroll down and select Manage under Additional Services
- Tap Friend Emojis and click on each friend status to pick a custom emoji to use
What about the purple boxes next to my friends’ names?
If your friend has entered a birthday in Snapchat, their zodiac sign usually shows up as a purple box — though depending on the system you're using, they may look a little different than the one above. As long as you realize what you're looking at, these icons give you an idea of when their birthday is, even if you don’t know the exact date. If it is your friend’s birthday, a birthday cake emoji will show up as well.
From left to right, top to bottom, the symbols above indicate Aries (March 21 – April 19), Taurus (April 20 – May 20), Gemini (May 21 – June 20), Cancer (June 21 – July 22), ### (July 23 – Aug 22), Virgo (Aug 23 – Sept 22), Libra (Sept 23 – Oct 22), Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21), Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 21), Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19), Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18), and Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 20).
Message status icons
Snapchat also has color-coded icons that give you an at-a-glance rundown of your message status — as long as you know what they mean. The icons above will show up on your Friends screen, indicating the status of the most recent Snap or Chat you've sent. From left to right, they mean:
- Red solid arrow: You sent a Snap without audio to this friend
- Red unfilled arrow: Your friend opened your Snap without audio
- Red solid square: This friend sent you a Snap without audio
- Red unfilled square: You viewed a Snap without audio from this friend
- Red double unfilled arrows: This friend took a screenshot of a Snap without audio
- Red circle with arrowhead: This friend replayed a Snap without audio
- Purple solid arrow: You sent a Snap with audio to this friend
- Purple unfilled arrow: Your friend opened your Snap with audio
- Purple solid square: This friend sent you a Snap with audio
- Purple unfilled square: You viewed a Snap with audio from this friend
- Purple double unfilled arrows: This friend took a screenshot of a Snap with audio
- Purple circle with arrowhead: This friend replayed a Snap with audio
- Blue solid arrow: You sent a Chat message to this friend
- Blue unfilled arrow: Your friend opened your Chat message
- Blue solid square: This friend sent you a Chat message
- Blue unfilled square: You viewed a Chat message from this friend
- Blue double unfilled arrows: This friend took a screenshot of a Chat message
- Gray solid arrow: You sent a Snap that is pending, which may mean that you're sending to someone who hasn't accepted your friend request
- Gray unfilled square: A Snap or Chat message is pending and may have expired
When you post a photo or video to a story (or feed), it's usually visible by all of your friends and they can share your story. Snapchat also lets you choose to share a private story that is limited to your friends whom you allow to view it, but not contribute to it. To know if you are viewing a private story, you will see a lock symbol on it. When the stories are laid out on your Discover tab, you will see a lock on the bottom of each private story. If you are viewing them in succession, you will notice a small lock on the top left of the screen. You do not know who else is able to view private stories, and you cannot post to another person's private story or view or modify their viewers.
Snapchat also lets you share a story with a select group of friends who can view and contribute to it as a custom story. You'll know if you are viewing a custom story when you see a multi-person icon on it. When stories are laid out on your Discover tab, you'll see three dots on the bottom of each custom story. If you are viewing them in succession, you will notice three dots on the top left of the screen. If someone is a contributor on your custom story, they can view the other contributing members and post their own content, but they can neither add nor remove friends.
Verified account emoji
While Twitter shows a verified account with a checkmark, Snapchat shows a verified account with a custom emoji. If you see an emoji next to a story, it’s because the person posting it has been verified, so they’re who they say they are. This is generally reserved for celebrities.
For example, Ariana Grande has a crescent moon emoji by her username and Arnold Schwarzenegger has a flexing bicep emoji next to his username. Even though they look different, both of these emoji mean the account is verified.
Updated on 4/9/2020
[Image credit: using Snapchat on phone via BigStockPhoto, Snapchat, Techlicious/Snapchat screenshot]