What Does ‘Time Sensitive’ Snapchat Mean and Why Does It Matter?


Have you noticed those two purple arrows on some of your friends’ Snapchat stories lately? No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – it means their story is time sensitive. Snapchat recently rolled out a new feature allowing people to mark their stories as “time sensitive” for viewing within 24 hours. The idea is that some stories are meant to be viewed immediately before the details get fuzzy or the news becomes old.

As an avid Snapchat user, this little addition actually matters a lot. Think about it – so much of what we share on social media is curated, edited, and posted at a time for maximum impact. But life doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes the moments we want to share are fleeting or spontaneous or only have relevance for a day. Time sensitive stories give us a way to share those kinds of moments without worrying if people will see them before the context is lost.

So next time you see the double purple arrows, open that story right away. Your friend has something they want you to see in the moment – and on Snapchat, moments are temporary. Time sensitive stories bring a whole new layer of immediacy and authenticity to how we can connect on social media. They may be temporary, but they give us a glimpse into the real lives of friends – unfiltered, uncurated, as it’s happening.

What Does ‘Time Sensitive’ Mean on Snapchat?

When you see “Time Sensitive” on Snapchat, it means you’ve got an important notification that will expire or become irrelevant shortly. These time-sensitive alerts ensure you don’t miss out on anything crucial happening on the app.

What Qualifies as Time Sensitive?

Several types of Snapchat notifications may be marked as time sensitive:

  • Chats from friends that will disappear after viewing: Any unread chats will be marked time sensitive so you respond before they vanish.
  • Story updates from friends that will expire soon: If a friend posts a new Snapchat story update that will end in the next few hours, it will be labeled time sensitive.
  • Limited-time offers or deals: Occasionally brands or media companies may post short-lived special promotions or contests on their Snapchat profiles. These will be marked time sensitive to prompt you to act fast.
  • Breaking news stories: For very recent news events unfolding, Snapchat may label the topic or coverage as time sensitive so you can stay on the pulse of what’s happening right now.

By prioritizing these time-sensitive Snaps, Stories and updates, you can make sure you never miss out on anything important, urgent or fleeting in your Snapchat world. The time-sensitive label is a handy feature for sorting through it all and focusing on what really matters on the app.

So when you see that “Time Sensitive” notification pop up on Snapchat, open it up quick – you never know what exciting surprise or update might await you! But act fast, because in a flash, it’ll disappear.

Why Snapchat Messages Become Time Sensitive

Snapchat’s time-sensitive notifications are messages that the app deems important enough to break through your phone’s Do Not Disturb mode or other notification blocks. These time-sensitive snaps require your immediate attention, so Snapchat will do what it takes to make sure you see them right away.

Why Messages Become Time Sensitive

There are a few reasons why a snap may be marked as time-sensitive:

  • The sender has added you as a “#1 BFF.” Since you’ve deemed each other best friends, Snapchat assumes you’ll want to see each other’s messages ASAP.
  • The message contains urgent information or questions that need a quick response. If a friend sends a snap asking if you’re on your way or need help with something immediately, Snapchat will flag it as time-sensitive.
  • The snap includes a location share to coordinate meeting up. If a friend shares their location to help you find them in a crowded area, Snapchat will notify you right away so you’re not left searching.
  • The message is from someone who rarely snaps you. Since snaps from this person are uncommon, Snapchat assumes any message from them must be important and time-sensitive.

While time-sensitive snaps can seem annoying when you’re trying to avoid notifications, they serve an important purpose. They ensure you never miss an urgent message or snap from your close friends or in emergency situations. Time-sensitive snaps keep you connected when it matters most, even when life gets busy. Now that’s friendship in the digital age.

How Long Do You Have to Open Time Sensitive Snaps?

Time-sensitive Snapchat notifications are meant to be viewed immediately. You only have one hour from the time the notification appears on your lock screen to open it before it disappears.

Snapchat’s algorithm determines which snaps or stories qualify as “time-sensitive” to ensure they are prioritized and less likely to be missed. Usually, snaps from your best friends or frequent Snapchat contacts may be marked as time-sensitive. The time-sensitive label also tends to apply more often to photo or video snaps versus text-only chats.

How Long Do You Have to Open Time Sensitive Snaps?

Once a time-sensitive Snapchat notification pops up on your lock screen, you have 60 minutes to tap and view it before it vanishes forever. After the hour is up, Snapchat automatically deletes the snap from their servers and you’ll no longer be able to access it.

It’s a good rule of thumb to open time-sensitive snaps as soon as possible after receiving the alert. Life happens, and it’s easy to get distracted by work, school, chores or other activities and lose track of time. Before you know it, 60 minutes may have slipped by without realizing it.

Rather than risk missing an important or meaningful snap from a friend, take a quick moment to open the time-sensitive notification right away. Snapchat’s time limitations are meant to encourage real-time interaction and engagement between users. Viewing snaps promptly also shows your friends that you value them and the messages they send you.

Missing a time-sensitive snap can be frustrating, especially if it contained an update, invitation or inside joke you were meant to see. Be vigilant and keep an eye out for the time-sensitive label in Snapchat notifications so you never miss a moment with friends again. Staying on top of these alerts will ensure you keep all your Snapchat conversations and connections alive and well.

What Happens When You Don’t Open a Time Sensitive Snap?

When you don’t open a time-sensitive snap within a certain window of time, a few things will happen. Time-sensitive snaps have a countdown timer showing how long you have left to view them before they disappear forever.

The snap will expire and vanish.

If you don’t open the snap before the countdown timer runs out, the snap will expire and disappear from your Snapchat inbox. You will lose the chance to view that snap’s content and any messages it may have contained. The sender will also receive a notification that you did not open their time-sensitive snap.

The sender may resend the snap.

If the content of the time-sensitive snap was important, the sender may decide to resend the snap to you after some time has passed. They may assume you were just busy or away from your phone when the original snap was sent. However, there is no guarantee the sender will resend the snap – they may have moved on assuming you saw it or no longer find it relevant to share again.

Your Snapchat score may be impacted.

On Snapchat, you have a score that increases when you send and open snaps. If you don’t open a time-sensitive snap before it expires, your score will not increase from opening that snap. While a single missed snap likely won’t significantly impact your overall score, frequently missing time-sensitive snaps from friends could potentially slow the growth of your score over time.

You may miss out on something meaningful.

Time-sensitive snaps are often used to share exciting, emotional or important moments. Not opening a time-sensitive snap means potentially missing out on a meaningful memory or inside joke with friends. If someone sends you a time-sensitive snap, it’s usually a sign that the content is something they really want you to see, even if just for a brief moment.

In summary, the main consequences of not opening a time-sensitive snap are that you’ll miss out on the snap’s content, the sender may or may not resend it, your Snapchat score could be affected, and you risk missing something meaningful from a friend. So next time you receive a time-sensitive snap, be sure to open it promptly!

Tips for Responding to Time Sensitive Snaps

When you receive a time-sensitive Snap on Snapchat, it means the sender has marked it as urgent and needing your quick attention. These snaps bypass your phone’s Do Not Disturb setting so you see them right away. While the immediacy is useful at times, the constant alerts can become annoying if you’re getting too many time-sensitive snaps. Here are some tips for responding to time-sensitive Snaps in a balanced way:

Reply promptly but thoughtfully

Once you’ve viewed the snap, take a few seconds to think about your response before replying hastily. Send a quick message letting the sender know you saw their snap and will respond in more detail shortly. This acknowledges their urgency while giving you time to craft a thoughtful reply.

Set boundaries

If certain friends are frequently sending you urgent snaps at inconvenient times, let them know your limits. Politely but firmly tell them the hours you’re generally available for time-sensitive communication. For example, “I’m happy to respond to urgent snaps between 9am to 8pm on weekdays, but outside of those hours I may have my notifications silenced.” Setting clear boundaries will make the feature useful rather than annoying.

Temporarily disable alerts

If you’re receiving an influx of urgent snaps and need to focus, you can temporarily disable the time-sensitive notifications. Go to Settings → Notifications → Snapchat and turn off the “Time Sensitive” option. Your friends’ snaps will still be visible in the chat when you open the app, but you won’t receive the priority alerts on your phone. Simply re-enable the alerts when you’re ready to respond.

Let some snaps expire

Not every time-sensitive snap requires an immediate reply or any reply at all. Some snaps may be informational only or the sender’s way of quickly sharing something with multiple friends. Don’t feel obligated to respond to each and every urgent snap, especially if the content doesn’t warrant a reply or you have nothing meaningful to say. Letting some snaps expire is an easy way to avoid notification overload.

With these tips, you can enjoy the convenience of Snapchat’s time-sensitive alerts feature without letting it take over your notifications or demand constant attention. Respond when you’re able, set clear boundaries, disable temporarily if needed, and don’t feel compelled to reply to every single snap. The option is meant to enhance communication, not create extra stress or urgency. Use it judiciously!


So now that you understand what time sensitive Snapchat means and why it matters, you’re ready to up your Snapchat game. Pay attention to those little clocks and open snaps before they disappear. Send time sensitive messages to your friends to start inside jokes or share fleeting moments that you want to capture but not save forever. Have fun with the temporary nature of the snaps and use the short lifespan to be silly or creative. Time sensitive Snapchat gives you an easy way to connect with your friends in the moment without worrying about leaving a digital footprint. Stay on the lookout for those time sensitive snaps – you never know what fun surprise might be waiting for you!

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