It’s been more than three years since the lip-syncing phầm mềm, now known as TikTok, first became popular among tweens & teens. The social network has since spread far beyond Generation Z: TikTok has been downloaded over 1 billion times, including 96 million in the United States, according to estimates from the research firm Sensor Tower. It’s also owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, now considered one of the most valuable startups in the world. The tiện ích itself revolves around sharing 15-second videoclips, which are set lớn music often licensed from artists & record labels.

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TikTok is now beloved not only by lip-syncing 14-year-olds, but also by comedians, athletes, and, yes, brands. Major corporations lượt thích Coca-Cola, Nike, ABC, and Google have run advertising campaigns on TikTok. Even Khloé Kardashian has been paid lớn post sponsored content on the platform. But the tiện ích isn’t just trang chủ to ads: TikTok is also ground zero for some of the internet’s most popular memes.

You can be forgiven if you feel like you don’t understand TikTok. The app is fast-paced and chaotic, combining elements of Spotify, Snapchat, Vine, & Twitch into a single social network. Here’s what you need khổng lồ know lớn get started, from TikTok “Challenges” khổng lồ Coins and Original sounds.

The first thing you’ll need is a pair of headphones. There’s just no way to enjoy TikTok with the sound off. After you tải về the app, you can immediately start browsing videos. But in order lớn post any yourself, you’ll need to lớn sign up for an account.

You can make an tài khoản using your email, your phone number, or a third-party platform lượt thích Facebook. The phầm mềm automatically assigns you a username. If you sign up for TikTok with your phone number, the ứng dụng will generate a generic username such as user1234567. Using an e-mail address generates a more personalized ID (although that may present a privacy issue for users).

To change your username, tap the icon in the right bottom corner that looks like a person’s upper body. Then hit Edit Profile. Here, you can change it to something more unique, as well as địa chỉ a bio, picture, và Profile Video.

By default, TikTok accounts are public, meaning anyone can see your profile & view the videos you post. Khổng lồ adjust these privacy settings, tap the three dots in the đứng đầu right corner of your profile.

Now that your profile is ready khổng lồ go, it’s time to lớn watch some TikToks. The tiện ích is divided into two main feeds. The mặc định is For You, an algorithmically generated stream of videos akin to Instagram’s Explore page. Swipe left and you’ll find the other, Following, which features uploads from people you choose lớn follow. TikTok is lượt thích a never-ending variety show; it’s pure entertainment. Follow creators who make you laugh, like
cute_puppies12, which posts the tiniest dogs I’ve ever seen.

You’ll notice to the right of every TikTok đoạn phim a series of icons. The first will take you to lớn the profile of the user who posted it. Then there’s a heart, which functions just like hearts, or likes, on Instagram. Next are comments, then a right-pointing arrow for sharing individual TikToks to lớn other platforms. Click the arrow if you want to copy the link to a specific TikTok, for example, to mô tả it on iMessage. (One cảnh báo for left-handers: You might find TikTok hard to use, at least at first, since it’s often right-oriented.)

The very last icon is a spinning record with music notes emanating from it. This represents the tuy nhiên excerpt the user is playing in their TikTok. Click on it lớn see the track’s name & artist, as well as a feed of other TikToks that also feature it. For instance, “Fake ID” by Riton và Kah-Lo—a particu­larly popular track on TikTok—has been featured in over 1.4 million videos, which are shown on the song’s page. These clips are likely not the full extent of “Fake ID” TikToks on the platform, but more on that a little later.

Don’t want lớn see a certain kind of TikTok in your feed? Hard press on the video clip to reveal a Not Interested button.


Ready to nội dung your own TikTok? First, tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. The camera will open, revealing a red record button reminiscent of Snapchat. Before you start recording, you can địa chỉ cửa hàng a song, so that your lip-sync, dance, or skit is in time with the music. If you want khổng lồ film something in the moment, you can skip ahead and start recording without a musical track, then add the music later.

Like Snapchat, TikTok has an array of AR effects that can be used in videos, which vì chưng things like change the màu sắc of your hair or eyes. Tap Effects on the left-hand side khổng lồ browse them. The World tab includes options meant for the environment, such as a delicious-looking slice of augmented-reality pizza. There are even special effects designed to be used on dogs và cats.

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On the right side of the recording screen is a Beauty button, which subtly erases the dark shadows under your eyes. Below it is the filters menu. Unlike Instagram, whose filters have now-iconic names lượt thích Mayfair and Valencia, TikTok’s are simply numbered. The last and most important feature here is the timer, which lets users film videos without continuously holding down the record button. It’s what makes TikTok’s signature dancing videos possible.


TikToks can be up to 15 seconds long, but users can also connect multiple clips together for up khổng lồ 60 seconds of total recording. You can also upload longer videos that have been recorded outside the phầm mềm itself.

Once you master regular TikToks, try experimenting with duets, which split the screen in half & let you sing the same tuy vậy as another creator. To lớn make a duet, tap the mô tả button on the original video, và then hit Duet.

Music is at the heart of TikTok; picking a popular tuy vậy can be the primary reason a video goes viral. Here’s how to lớn choose one. First, tap showroom a Sound on the right side of the recording screen. A Spotify-esque streaming thực đơn of artists and records will appear. Here, you can browse the most popular tracks on the platform, as well as kiểm tra out songs from táo khuyết Music.

On this same music streaming thực đơn are the songs associated with TikTok #Challenges. Challenges are what unite the TikTok community, và they’re often sponsored by advertisers. Right now, for instance, ABC is running the #LikeAnAmericanIdol challenge on TikTok, which invites you lớn “show off your amazing voice!” (So far, 25.3 million videos have been created featuring the hashtag.) Google recently ran a similar challenge chiến dịch with the hashtag #HeyGoogleHelp.

Most challenges aren’t sponsored. Instead, they’re created by TikTok và the community itself. The tiện ích is currently featuring the #faketravel challenge for instance, in which users pretend khổng lồ be on a luxurious vacation. The meme pokes fun at influencers who brag about their #jetsetlifestyle on other platforms lượt thích Instagram.

To browse all of TikTok’s current challenges, tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of the home screen. At the đứng top of this same menu, there’s a tìm kiếm bar, which can be used to tìm kiếm for specific creators, sounds, or hashtags.


Once you start sharing TikToks, you can kiểm tra how many people have watched them by looking at the view numbers on your profile. Tap the notifications icon at the bottom of the home screen to lớn see who has commented or liked your videos. Here, you can also see who has looked at your profile or followed you. One important tip: TikTok is notorious for sending hoards of engagement bait in the form of push notifications. If that sort of spam sounds unappealing, turn off TikTok notifications in your phone’s settings menu.

TikTok also notifies users when popular creators are “LIVE streaming” (the feature isn’t available for every user). As on Twitch, while watching a live stream you can tip creators in virtual goods, which are purchased with TikTok Coins. $1 equals 100 coins. Creators often acknowledge their fans or answer questions they ask in exchange for these gifts, a portion of which they can convert into regular currency.

You now know how lớn join the latest TikTok #Challenge. You’ve added a digital pepperoni slice to your lip-syncing masterpiece. And you maybe even danced a little. You’re ready khổng lồ explore TikTok. The app has plenty of additional features, and the best way lớn find them is by playing around yourself. So turn up the volume and go forth.


Louise Matsakis is a freelance writer covering tech. She was formerly a staff writer at covering Amazon, TikTok, & digital platforms.