How Does Tinder Work

Online Dating

How Does Tinder Work? — Plus 3 Alternatives

Hayley Matthews
Hayley Matthews Updated:
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If you’re considering downloading Tinder for the first time, you may wonder how Tinder works. This article has the answers you need to set up your dating profile and get a ton of matches.

Tinder came onto the scene in 2012 and quickly grew into one of the most popular dating apps ever. It revolutionized the online dating scene with its fun and addictive swiping system. Now Tinder is available in 196 countries, sees over 2 billion swipes a day, and has made more than 43 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 dating profile and create mutual matches. Here’s how to get started:

    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 www.gotinder.com.

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 OneHowTo.com 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.

Screenshot of GoTinder.com

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

Tinder requires you to verify your identity through Facebook or a phone number. If you choose to link your dating profile to your Facebook account, Tinder can pull your personal photos and information from your Facebook profile (e.g., first name, age, gender, job, and education level), which makes for quick signup process.

Tinder can also scan through your Facebook friends list to find like-minded people who could be potential matches for you.

Another option is to sync up your Instagram account to Tinder, 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 of linking to social media, 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.

Or you can join a dating site that doesn’t require a Facebook login.

By making people link their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts, the Tinder app ensures that every person is who they say they are. That can help 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. Tinder users who swipe right on each other are matched.

Tinder will suggest a person who matches your dating 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”), and Tinder users who send GIFs are more likely to get a response. In fact, singles send over 4.2 million GIFs a week on Tinder.

Tinder’s Technology: GPS Finds Compatible Singles Near You

Tinder is a location-based app, which means it uses your smartphone’s 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 Tinder app also recently made some improvements on how it chooses the dating profiles it shows you. While Tinder is being tight-lipped about the details, they do say the update will “significantly” increase the number of potential matches you get.

Another new feature 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.

All these features are super useful if you want to meet singles in your area without a lot of effort and hassle. Tinder has been downloaded over 300 million times, so you should never run out of dating profiles to swipe and match with you.

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 LGBTQ+ singles, Tinder isn’t the most gay friendly app on the market.

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 Match.com, Zoosk, and BeNaughty.

Below are more details about each:

★★★★★
4.8/5.0

Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Match.com originally launched in April 1995 — over 17 years before Tinder came on the dating scene — and it is widely known as one of the best dating sites for serious relationships. The Match app has all the same bells and whistles as the dating site, and the smart matchmaking algorithm and search tools can give an extra boost to newcomers looking for the perfect match.

★★★★★
4.5/5.0

Relationships: Fun Dates, Serious Relationships

Match System: Search and get match recommendations

Our Experts Say: “Zoosk is integrated with social media sites, like Facebook and Google+, so it's very popular with singles on the go...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Our dating experts spend a lot of time answering the question What is Zoosk? It’s a socially savvy dating site and app geared toward young online daters. Zoosk offers a lot of communication features, including instant messaging and sending virtual gifts, and the dating platform uses a smart behavioral matchmaking system to bring like-minded people together.

★★★★
3.9/5.0

Relationships: Hookups, Chats

Match System: Search by encounter, location, and more

Our Experts Say: “BeNaughty is a premier hookup app where you can feel comfortable expressing your desires. Plus, it's free to join, browse, and flirt...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Finally, BeNaughty is a legit hookup site for anyone feeling frisky and looking for casual sex in the online dating world. Single men and women over 18 can create an anonymous profile for free and start chatting with local singles who catch their eye.

To sum up: If a serious relationship is your goal, Match can’t be beat. If you want an app like Tinder but with more advanced search filters, Zoosk is a go-to choice. If you’re looking for a casual hookup, BeNaughty is the top adult dating service out there.

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.

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