How to Unlock a Snapchat Lens with a Snapcode

January 10, 2019

What is a Snapcode?

Snapcodes are Snapchat’s version of a QR code that can be scanned to add new friends, unlock lenses, and even discover exclusive content on Snapchat. Snapcodes are easily shareable across your social channels and in your print or digital marketing campaigns.

Much like a QR code, each Snapcode contains digital information with a specific trigger—so once the Snapcode has been unlocked, you’ll be able to access fun, interactive lens experiences, easily add new friends, or let new friends add you!  

In the past, if you wanted to add a friend on Snapchat, you would have to manually type their username into the ‘Add Friends’ search box and scroll through a list of similar names. Now, all you have to do is open the Snapchat app, point your Snap camera at your friend’s Snapcode, and never worry about misspelling a username again!

Check out Snapchat’s video that breaks down just how Snapcodes work.

How do I scan a Snapcode?

It’s easier than you think!

You’ve downloaded Snapchat, and you’ve mastered the basics thanks to Snapchat 101 - The Beginner’s How to Guide.

Now, you want to unlock a Face or World lens using a digital or printed Snapcode. All Snapcodes have a circle and image in the middle, like our Winter Wonderland Snapcode below. ⬇️

A black and yellow Snapcode with a snowflake icon in the center

There are several different ways to unlock a Snapcode, and we’ll break all of them down into super simple steps!

1) Unlock a Digital or Printed Snapcode

You see a Snapcode on a poster, computer screen, or on a friend’s device.

1)  Open Snapchat

2)  On the home screen, tap on the smiley face button


3)  Select the blank circle button 🔘


4)  Point your camera at the Snapcode.  

Make sure you’ve selected the rear-facing camera!

5)  Tap and hold the Snapcode on your screen to scan it. 👆  

If this doesn’t work, move your device closer to the Snapcode)

6)  You’ll be asked if you want to unlock it or Send to Friends! Tap your selection and you’re done!

2) Unlock a Snapcode From Your Camera Roll

If you aren’t in a position where you can point your camera at a Snapcode, you CAN download the image of a Snapcode and add it to Snapchat directly through your camera roll.

1)  Tap the top left button to access your Profile 👤 screen

2)  Tap the top right Settings ⚙️ button

3)  Scroll down and tap on Snapcodes

4)  Tap “Scan from Camera Roll”

5)  Select the Snapcode image

6)  You’ll be asked if you want to unlock it or Send to Friends. Tap your selection and you’re done!

3) Unlock a Snapcode from a screenshot

If someone sends you a Snapcode in a message or an email, you can upload a screenshot to Snapchat and the app will detect the Snapcode within the image and unlock it.

1)  Screenshot the Snapcode.

There’s no need to edit out any surrounding text, just make sure it includes the entire Snapcode.

2)  Select the Share button

3)  Tap the Snapchat icon

4)  Snapchat will open up the image as a Snap. Wait about three seconds, and the Snapcode will be automatically detected (you don’t need to tap anything!)

5)  You’ll be asked if you want to unlock it, or Send to Friends. Tap your selection and you’re done!

4) Unlock a Lens From a Snap or Story

A friend sends you a Snap of them using a face lens, or you see a face lens in your friend’s story. Without even having access to the Snapcode, you can still unlock a lens by following a couple easy steps.

The Fatso Peanut Butter Snapchat lens


1)  Tap the Try Lens 🔘 button at the bottom of the screen

2)  The lens will automatically be added to your lens carousel!


1)  Tap the Unlock Lens 🔘 button at the bottom of the screen

2)  The lens will automatically be added to your roster of lenses!

5) Unlock a Sponsored lens

The easiest of all! All you have to do is Swipe up when you see one in your discovery feed!

The BMW Snap Ad to Lens Campaign featuring a yellow BMW and a Swipe Up Link

Unlock Snapcodes With Ease

Now you know the five ways Snapcodes can be accessed in Snapchat, and how lenses can be unlocked with the app.

To read more about Snapchat lenses and social media AR, check out our full list of resources here.

Want to learn how we can help you create a custom Snapchat lens of your very own? Reach out and speak to our team.

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