What Does the Lock Mean on Snapchat? Your In-Depth Guide

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Have you ever noticed a small lock icon next to some Snapchat stories? If so, you likely wondered what exactly that lock means. This comprehensive guide will explain everything about those mysterious locked stories on Snapchat!

The lock signifies that the Story is private and can only be viewed by certain friends selected by the creator. We’ll dig into how private Snapchat stories work, who can see them, how to create your own, and much more.

By the end, the meaning of those locks will be crystal clear. Let’s dive in!

A Quick Primer: What are Snapchat Stories?

Before we can understand private stories, it helps to cover the basics of what Snapchat stories are.

Snapchat stories are photos and videos shared publicly with all of your friends on Snapchat. When you post to your Snapchat story, all of your connections on the app can view your story for 24 hours.

Some key attributes of standard Snapchat stories:

  • They disappear after 24 hours.
  • Anyone you’re friends with on Snapchat can see them.
  • Friends can contribute by sending you chat messages.
  • There’s no limit to the number of snaps you can post.
  • You can see who has viewed your public story.

Stories have become one of the most popular Snapchat features since they launched in 2013. Snapchat now has over 90 million daily active story users!

Introducing Private Snapchat Stories

Now let’s talk about private stories, one of Snapchat’s more exclusive and hidden features.

With private stories, you can share snaps with only a customized group of friends rather than your entire friends list. You control exactly who can view your private story.

Here‘s a quick rundown of how private Snapchat stories work:

  • You manually pick specific friends who can view it.
  • Only you can add snaps – friends can‘t contribute.
  • A colorful lock icon indicates a private story.
  • They still disappear after 24 hours like regular stories.
  • You can have up to 3 active private stories.

Private stories offer a more selective and intimate way to share certain moments. Many Snapchatters love this exclusivity!

What Do the Different Lock Icons Mean?

Spotting a private story is easy – just look for a lock icon next to the username! But what do the different colored locks signify?

Purple Lock

A purple padlock means this private story is new and unopened. Once you view it, the lock turns grey.

Grey Lock

This grey padlock indicates you‘ve already viewed the private story at least once. It remains visible but greys out post-viewing.

Blue Lock

A blue padlock icon means you‘re in the audience, but the creator hasn‘t added new snaps yet. It‘s essentially a dormant private story.

So in summary:

  • 💜 Purple padlock = Unopened private snap
  • 🔒 Grey padlock = Opened private snap
  • 🔒 Blue padlock = No new private snaps

These colors help you distinguish which private stories have new content to view and which you‘re all caught up on. Simple and helpful!

Who Can See Your Private Story on Snapchat?

When you first create a private story, Snapchat will prompt you to manually select friends to include in the audience. This grants them exclusive viewing access.

Some key facts about who can see your private Snapchat story:

  • Only friends you intentionally pick will see it.
  • There‘s no limit on audience size. You can include as many friends as you want.
  • You can also leave certain friends out if desired.
  • Your selections are invisible – friends won‘t know if they can view it until they spot the lock.

The takeaway is that YOU control the audience completely. Snapchat won‘t automatically share a private story with anyone outside the hand-selected viewers list.

How Many Private Stories Can You Have at Once?

This is a common question about Snapchat‘s private story feature. The answer is that you can have up to 3 concurrent private stories on your Snapchat profile.

Here are some smart ways Snapchatters utilize those 3 available private story slots:

  • One for close friends
  • One for family
  • One for co-workers

Segmenting your audience this way allows you to share relevant content with each group. Of course, you can use your 3 slots however you wish!

Step-by-Step: How to Create a Private Snapchat Story

Ready to make your own private Snapchat story? The process is quick and easy:

  1. Open the Snapchat app and tap your profile icon.

  2. Tap the “+” button to create a new story.

  3. Select “Create Private Story” at the bottom.

  4. Name your private story something memorable.

  5. Check friends you want to include as viewers.

  6. Tap “Create Story” and you’re done!

Now the fun part – start snapping and adding to your private story!

Pro Tip: Want to organize your stories? Name your private stories something descriptive like “Italy Trip ‘22” or “College Roommates.”

Adding Snaps to an Existing Private Story

Posting to a private story you‘ve already made is just as easy. Simply follow these steps when snapping:

  1. Capture or select a snap as usual.

  2. Tap the arrow icon to share it.

  3. Pick your private story from the list.

  4. Post it and the snap will be exclusive to your chosen audience!

Repeat this process to continue building any of your private stories. The steps are quick and identical to posting public stories.

Editing Your Private Story on Snapchat

You can customize the audience of a private story even after creating it. Here‘s how:

  1. Open your Snapchat profile and tap the private story you want to edit.

  2. Tap the ⋮ menu icon to access “Story Settings”.

  3. Choose “Edit Story” to change the name or viewers.

  4. Tap to add or remove friends from the audience list.

  5. Hit “Save” to apply your changes.

Updating the viewers is a breeze and ensures your private stories are always tailored for the right groups of friends. Never hesitate to refine the audience as needed!

Who Views Your Private Snapchat Story?

Curious who‘s actually viewing your exclusive stories? Snapchat does let you check this.

To see your private story viewers:

  1. Open the private story.

  2. Tap the eye icon at the bottom of the screen.

  3. This shows you which friends have viewed it so far!

Checking your private story analytics can be fun and ensures your besties aren‘t missing out on the stories you chose to share more selectively.

How Long do Private Snapchat Stories Last?

Like traditional Snapchat stories, private stories will disappear after 24 hours. The countdown starts as soon as you post your first snap to a private story.

Here are key timing details on private stories:

  • They last 24 hours exactly from the first posted snap.
  • Friends can view repeatedly until expiry.
  • The story disappears fully after 24 hours.
  • You can also delete a private story manually before 24 hours.

So don‘t worry about old private stories hanging around forever! They‘ll vanish just like your public stories do daily.

Can Friends Save Your Private Snaps?

Nope! The disappearing nature remains firmly in place. Friends cannot download, screenshot, or otherwise save your private story snaps onto their devices.

If someone tries taking a screenshot of your private story, you‘ll receive a notification as usual. This helps maintain your privacy and control.

So feel free to share more personal, silly, or sensitive moments knowing your private snaps stay private even from recipients!

Expert Tips for Creating Engaging Private Stories

Want to take your private Snapchat stories to the next level? Use these pro tips:

🔥 Tailor it for your chosen friends – Inside jokes and personal references get more views and replies! Make it exclusive.

🔥 Leverage Snapchat lenses, filters, and stickers – Visually appealing snaps are way more fun and interesting to watch.

🔥 Build suspense and tell a story – Share a sequence of snaps that fit a narrative or theme to pull viewers through the story.

🔥 Respond to friends via chat – If you get chat replies about your private story, send them a snap back! Keep it interactive.

🔥 Change up your audience now and then – Create new private stories so different groups can enjoy the VIP treatment.

Following this expert advice will take your private Snapchat stories from basic to exceptional!

Private Snapchat Stories on Desktop? Here‘s the Deal

Snapchat‘s web platform currently does not support viewing friends‘ stories or private stories – only your own stories. Bummer!

The story and private story feature is still mobile-only as of early 2023. You can only view others‘ stories on a phone with the Snapchat app installed. No desktop viewing exists yet.

But we expect that to change soon! Snapchat seems to be gradually adding more story functionality into the web version. Fingers crossed that private story viewing comes to browsers eventually.

Until then, grab your phone if you see one of those exclusive lock icons you want to unlock!

Troubleshooting: Solutions to Common Private Story Issues

Having trouble with private stories? Try these troubleshooting tips:

Can‘t create a private story? You likely have 3 active already. Delete one if you want to make a new one.

Friends can‘t view my private story? Double check you added them as viewers and they have the latest Snapchat update.

Lost access to a private story? The creator removed you from the audience. Ask nicely to be added back!

No lock showing on friends‘ stories? They may not have made any private stories. The lock only appears on private ones.

Grey lock won‘t disappear? Grey means you‘ve already viewed it fully. Wait for new snaps for the purple lock to reappear.

With a little testing and tweaking, you‘ll master the ins and outs of Snapchat‘s private stories feature. It‘s a handy option for controlling your content!

The Takeaway: Private Snapchat Stories Made Simple

That sums up the complete guide to those mysterious locked icons on Snapchat stories!

In short, the padlock means a snap story is private and limited to certain friends handpicked by the creator. Private stories offer more control over recipients.

The colors tell you if there are new snaps to view or not. And you can make up to 3 private stories to segment audiences.

So next time you spot a lock on Snapchat, you‘ll know exactly what it means. Time to start snapping and build out your own exclusive stories!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.