How Does Tinder Work? — Plus 3 Alternatives

Online Dating

How Does Tinder Work? — Plus 3 Alternatives

Hayley Matthews Hayley Matthews • 7/15/16

Tinder came onto the scene in 2012 and quickly grew into one of the most popular dating apps, revolutionizing the space with its fun and addictive swiping system. Now Tinder is available in 196 countries, sees 1.4 billion swipes a day, and has made more than 10 billion matches.

But how does Tinder work? Like really work. We’ll take you through it all — from creating an account to the location-based matching to alternative apps.

Using Tinder | How Tinder’s Technology Works | Tinder Alternatives

Using Tinder: Download, Log In, Fill Out Your Info & Start Swiping

Tinder is really easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes and a couple of steps to make a profile and start finding matches:

      1. Download the app for free or pay for a premium account.
      2. Sign up through Facebook.
      3. Choose the photos and details you want to include.
      4. Begin swiping.

    To get started, all you have to do is download Tinder on your phone. The Tinder app is available for iOS and Android, and you can get it in the App Store or Google Play Store or by going to

    There are Tinder PC and Mac versions as well, but they can be somewhat of a hassle and include more steps, such as downloading Bluestacks, a program that lets you run Android apps on your computer. If this is the route you want to take, there’s a helpful article on that has all of the instructions for running Tinder on PC and Mac.

    No matter which platform you choose, Tinder is free to download, but if you want access to more features like Rewind (more on that later), you’ll want to upgrade to Tinder Plus — which can range between $9.99 and $19.99 a month depending on your age and location, according to Business Insider.

    Screenshot of

    You can download Tinder for free via the App Store or Google Play Store.

    Tinder requires you to log in through Facebook. With the two accounts linked, Tinder can pull your images and information from your profile (e.g., first name, age, gender, job, and education level), which makes for quick sign-up. Tinder can also scan through your friends list to find people with whom you share common interests.

    Another option is to sync up your Instagram account too, which will grab photos and info just like Facebook. Tinder will never publish anything on your Facebook or Instagram profiles, but if you’re uncomfortable with the idea, there are a few ways around it. An Appamatix article says you can do things like limit how much access you give Tinder as well as create a new Facebook account and sign up with that one.

    By making people link their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts, the app is ensuring that every person is who they say they are and helping to dispel rumors about Tinder scams.

    Once you’re happy with your photos and bio (up to 500 words), you’ll choose the gender, age range, and preferred distance of the people you’re looking for. Then you can start swiping and getting matches.

    Screenshot of Tinder's swiping process

    Swipe right if you like someone and left if you don’t. Users who swipe right on each other are matched.

    Tinder will suggest a person who matches your criteria, and you can either swipe right if you like the person or swipe left if you don’t. You can also click on their image to see more photos and information before you decide.

    Swipe left and you’ll be shown another user. You’ll also never see who swipes left on you, and they’ll never see that you swiped left on them.

    If you swipe right, you’re letting Tinder know you’re interested in that person. If you both swipe right on each other, then it’s a match and messaging will be enabled.

    And once you get to this stage, you don’t want to blow it. When crafting your message, remember the best Tinder openers are short, personalized, and not creepy (it shouldn’t have to be said, but, please, no dick pics or just a “Hey, girl”).

    Tinder’s Technology: GPS Finds Compatible Singles Near You

    Tinder is a location-based app, which means it uses GPS to find singles who are near wherever you happen to be. In terms of how Tinder’s actual matching algorithm works, there are numerous theories out there. Alex Mark, Founder of Truthly, wrote a really helpful Quora post that breaks everything down in a way that’s easy to understand.

    The app also recently made some improvements on how it chooses the profiles it shows you. While Tinder is being tight-lipped about the details, they do say the update will “significantly” increase the number of matches you get.

    Another new launch is what they call Smart Profiles, which highlight information in a person’s profile that’s most relevant to you (e.g., you went to the same college or have the same hobby).

    Photo of Tinder's GPS matching system

    Tinder uses your location to suggest like-minded matches who are near you.

    You also might be wondering exactly how to get more likes on Tinder. The features below can definitely help with that, but you may have to upgrade for some of these:

    • Super Like: Swipe up if you like someone, and they’ll see that before they swipe right or left on you. (Tinder says you’re 3X as likely to match with someone you Super Like, and conversations that start this way last 70% longer than those that don’t.)
    • Rewind: If you accidentally swiped left on someone, you can undo it.
    • Passport: Whether you’re on vacation or on a business trip, swipe, match, and chat with Tinder users from around the world by searching by city or dropping a pin.
    • Discovery: Allows you to specify the type of people you want to see on the app (e.g., distance, age, and gender). You’ll want to make sure this is switched “On” so your profile isn’t hidden.
    • Last Active: See how recently a member you like was on Tinder. If it’s recent and you two are matched, you could even meet up right then.

    3 Tinder Alternatives You Should Check Out

    There are several successful Tinder stories showcased on the site (complete with cute pictures of the Tinder couples themselves), but it’s no secret that the app isn’t for everyone.

    With over 50 million members to swipe on, the process can be overwhelming for some people — especially for women as men are 3X more likely to swipe right than they are, which means women can often be bombarded with match suggestions. And while the app is open to gay Tinder users, we’re not going as far as to say it’s gay friendly.

    If in the end it isn’t for you, there are also tons of alternative options out there. For other apps like Tinder, we’d go with, Zoosk, and BeNaughty. If a casual date or serious relationship is your goal, Match can’t be beat. If you want an app that’s pretty comparable to Tinder, Zoosk is a go-to choice. If you’re looking for a hookup, BeNaughty is the top dog.

    Below are more details about each:


    Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships

    Match System: Search by age, profile, zip, more

    Our Experts Say: has led to more dates, marriages and relationships than any other site. Its impressive user base and success rate make it our top review. Full Review »

    Browse Free: View Photos Now


    Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships

    Match System: Search, plus daily match suggestions

    Our Experts Say: Zoosk's integration with social networks and its popular smartphone app make it one of the web's fastest-growing dating sites for casual and serious daters. Full Review »

    Browse Free: View Photos Now


    Relationships: Hookups, Chats

    Match System: Search by interest, zip code, photos, more

    Our Experts Say: BeNaughty is a popular "hookup" site that drops all the pretenses of dating and just gets down to the nitty-gritty of hooking up. The best part: browse profiles in any town for free. Full Review »

    Browse Free: View Photos Now

    In the End, Pick an App That’s Right For Your Needs

    With its GPS and swiping approach, Tinder has forever changed how singles use dating apps and find matches, and a lot of companies are now following suit. It’s definitely popular and fun, but it doesn’t mesh with everyone (if that’s the case for you, then check out our favorite alternatives). Go with your gut, whether it’s a dating app or dating site, and choose one that you think will best meet your needs. The main thing is, if you’re single, to just get out there.