From getting verified to keeping the trolls at bay, these Instagram tips and tricks will make you a photo-sharing pro and help keep unwanted accounts (and Reels) at bay.
Instagram is almost old enough to join Instagram. The app turned 12 this year, and it’s struggling with popularity as it hits the difficult tween years.
Instagram is desperate to keep up with its peers; first the mysterious Snapchat and now it girl TikTok. That’s caused it to become a follower rather than a leader.
The app’s users, including some of its most famous(Opens in a new window), rebelled against recent video-focused changes with a “Make Instagram Instagram Again” campaign. Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram, ultimately conceded that the app needed “to take a big step back, regroup, and figure out how we want to move forward.”
While Instagram is far more than a photo-sharing app these days, if you’re here you’re probably still using it, so we have some tips on how to make the most of your experience.
Swap Algorithmic for Chronological (Temporarily)
Your Instagram feed is no longer a chronological account of all those you follow. Instead it’s an algorithmic mess of things you never asked to see. But you can restore some sense of order.
Tap the Instagram logo on the upper left and choose Following to see only posts from accounts you follow in chronological order. Note that this will reset to the default view once you close out of the app and re-open it.
If there are accounts you want to guarantee that you see when you open the app, tap the logo and select Favorites. You’ll get a list of all the accounts you can follow, and you can select the ones you want to appear at the top of your feed. Your faves won’t know if you’ve added them (and the other accounts you follow won’t know they’re not your most loved). You can add up to 50 accounts. As with Following, this view will default back to Instagram’s algorithmic one the next time you open the app, but you only have to tap Favorites to see it displayed again.
Finally, you can get rid of those suggested posts…for 30 days at a time anyway and only in your Older Posts feed. Scroll through your feed until you get to Suggested Posts. Click on Older Posts and scroll all the way through until you get to Suggested Posts again. Click on the X next to one and then you can choose Snooze All Suggested Posts for 30 days.
Pay for Exclusive Content From Favorite Accounts
Instagram, like Patreon and OnlyFans before it, has been rolling out a subscriber account option for some creators. It lets them charge followers for exclusive content like Lives and Stories. Right now the number of creators who can use this feature is small but look for it among your faves; if you sign up, you’ll get a badge that identifies your subscriber status.
Is This Reel Life?
TikTok you don’t stop. Or you will have to depending on what happens with the app. Every video shared on Instagram is now a Reel. This is a change in more than name only for videos. If you have a public account, this means that videos that are under 90 seconds might end up in the Discovery tab, and your videos and photos can now be shared in the Reels of any other account.
This feature will be familiar to anyone who’s used BeReal. Instagram lets you create a Reel that shows a view from the front and back cameras. Click on the plus sign to create a new post, scroll over to Reels, and select the camera icon at the bottom. You’ll then be able to create a video that superimposes a small window from your front-facing cam onto the image you’re snapping from your rear-facing camera.
If NFTs are your thing, you can add yours to Instagram. First connect your digital wallet. Go to Settings and scroll down to tap Digital Collectibles. Select the type of wallet you have, tap the wallet you want to connect, tap Continue, and follow the instructions. Once the account is linked, you’ll be able to view your NFTs under Digital Collectibles, and you can then share them as posts.
If you have dreams of being an influencer and want to let brands know that you’re promoting them or if you just want to let friends know where you got that cute shirt, you can add product tags to your photos. Create your post and in the step right before you post it, select Tag Products. You’ll get a search pop-up where you can put in the terms that describe the item and you can tap to add and then share your post.
Get Some Face Time Without Face Time
If you want to video chat with someone who slides into your DMs but don’t want to exchange phone numbers, chat right in Instagram. Go into the DM and you can tap the phone or video camera icon to start an audio or video call. You can also start a call with your contacts by going into messages and selecting a contact.
To select who can video chat you, go to Settings > Notifications > Messages and Calls. Under Video Chats, choose whether to turn it off, only receive calls from those you follow, or to receive them from everyone.
Sharing Is Caring
One way to share your favorite music or movies is to give them a shoutout in Stories. You can create a sticker with the content’s artwork, which you can add effects to and draw on and before you post them. In apps like Spotify and Netflix, tap the share icon and select Instagram Stories.
How do you mute? Go to the offending account’s page, tap Following and select Mute. You’ll then be given a choice about whether you want to mute just posts, just stories, or both posts and stories. You can also do this by tapping the ellipses on an account from your feed. Follow the same process to unmute.
Not every story has to be shared publicly. For Instagram Stories that are a little more personal, designate a list of close friends who’ll be the only ones who can see them. Go to your profile, select the hamburger icon on the top-right, and tap Close Friends. Find those you want in this group, and tap Add next to their names. When you go to post, you’ll be able to choose whether to share with all your followers or with this more exclusive list.
If you want to know if you’re someone’s close friend or at least an Instagram-sanctioned “close friend,” you’ll see a green ring around their Stories icon and a green badge on the Stories themselves.
Be More Accessible
Instagram is a largely visual platform, but that doesn’t mean the visually impaired can’t enjoy it. Artificial intelligence is being used to write up descriptions of each image so screen readers can read them out loud. While this is a definite improvement, you can go one step further and write in a description of your own for all your posts to make them even more descriptive, accurate, and accessible. After you’ve selected a filter and tapped Next, you’ll see a screen that says Advanced Settings at the bottom. Tap that, then tap Write Alt Text, write in your own description and save it. Add descriptions to old posts by selecting them, tapping Edit and selecting Add Alt Text.
By Any Other Name
Instagram allows you to switch between up to five accounts without logging out and then back in. Go to the Settings menu, scroll to the bottom and tap Add Account. Enter the user name and password of an additional account. To switch between them, go to your profile page, tap your user name at the top of the screen, and select the account you wish to view in the pop-up menu (which also provides the option to add another account). Or long-press on your profile icon on the bottom right of your home screen and select the account you want.
If you have just one message to share, you can regram posts to their other accounts. In the last step of posting, there’s a Post to Other Accounts section, where you can shift the slider next to the accounts you want to share the post to.
Time Time Time
With Apple’s Screen Time or Android Digital Wellbeing, you can get alerts about how much time you spend on social media, but to drill down into Instagram usage alone, tap the hamburger icon on your profile and select Your Activity. This will tell you how much time, on average, you spend using the app each day.
If the number is alarming, set time limits on your snooping of snaps. Select Set Reminder to Take Breaks to get alerts for either 10, 20, or 30 minutes. You can also choose Set Daily Time Limit to set the maximum amount of time you want to spend on Instagram. If you go over it, you’ll get a notification. Of course whether you truly stop scrolling is up to you. To avoid getting drawn into Instagram in the first place, tap Notification Settings (or navigate to Settings > Notifications) and toggle Pause All to on. Or choose which types of notifications to allow.
If trolls make their way to your profile, get rid of nasty comments(Opens in a new window). For iOS users, swipe left on a comment you want to delete and click the trash can icon. For Android, tap Comment under the photo, tap the one you want to delete, and click the trash-can icon at the top of the screen. On both platforms, you can also report the comment as abuse, if necessary via the exclamation point icon. To see the status of your reports, go to Settings > Support Requests. If you are not pleased with the action Instagram takes, select Request a Review for a second look.
f you’re consistently getting hate in the comments, Instagram now lets you choose who can comment on your posts: everyone; people you follow and your followers; people you follow; or your followers. Just go to Settings > Privacy > Comments > Block Comments From and search for the account(s) you want to block.
To disable commenting before you post, click Advanced Settings on the screen to add a caption and share, and slide Turn Off Commenting to the on position. To turn off comments on an existing post, tap the ellipsis at the top, and select Turn Off Commenting.
If reporting or blocking seems too harsh or could cause more problems with a person, you can restrict an account. This means you won’t receive notifications from them, comments between the two of you are only visible to both parties, and messages they send to you will go to Message Requests instead of your inbox. To restrict someone, go to their profile, tap the Following button, and change it to Restrict. Or go to Settings > Privacy, scroll down to Connections, tap Restricted Accounts and add them. Under Connections you can also add to your block list, mute accounts, and see who you follow and who follows you.
To prevent unwanted messages, go to Settings > Privacy > Messages > Message Controls, where you can navigate between choices of who can message you and add you to groups.
We’re Doing It Live
Broadcast live to followers by tapping the plus icon at the top of the opening screen or swiping right from the icon bar at the bottom, selecting Live from the slider at the bottom of the screen, and tapping the Live icon. You’ll be able to add a title, tag a fundraiser, schedule the live, and select a broadcast audience, which can even just be a practice session with just you.
Once you do go live, you’ll see how many viewers your broadcast has at the top right of the screen. Comments will appear on the bottom, but if you want to disable them, tap the ellipsis and select Turn Off Commenting. When you’re done, tap End at the top right of the screen.
You don’t have to go live alone. You can create a Live Room with up to three other people. When you’re in a Live, click the video camera icon. You can select users from a list or search for them and add them.
To save a live, tap Download Video after it ends. It will save to your camera roll, minus the comments, likes, number of viewers, or interactions—provided your phone has enough storage. You can also share it to a story by clicking Share Video immediately after it ends. Or you can share it later by going to your profile, tapping on the three lines, clicking on Archive, selecting the video, and then tapping Share.
Be a Collector
Some images you just want to stare at forever but Instagram feeds, depending on how many accounts you follow, can go by too fast. To save photos (without alerting the owner), tap the bookmark icon right below it. To see them later, go to your profile, tap the hamburger menu on the top right and select Saved. Beats taking a screenshot.
To organize all those saved posts, create a Pinterest-like Collection. In the Saved menu, tap the plus (+) button on the top right. Type a name for your Collection and hit Next. You’ll be asked to select the photos you want added to a Collection; hit Done. Collections will appear in the Saved tab.
To save to a Collection directly from a post, go to the post, and long-press the bookmark icon. Here you can save the image to an existing Collection or create a new one by tapping the plus sign. If you don’t have any existing Collections, the pop-up will ask you to start one (pictured).
Go Into the Archives
Need to banish an ex or frenemy from your public profile without deleting(Opens in a new window) the photos entirely? Go to a post you want to hide from view, tap the three dots at the top and select Archive. Followers will no longer be able to see it, but it won’t be deleted. When you want to see it, tap the hamburger icon on your profile and select Archive. In the drop-down up top, select Posts. To restore the photo, tap the three dots on the top right and tap Show on Profile.
Tag, You’re It
You can follow accounts on Instagram, of course, but you can also follow hashtags. Tap on a hashtag in a post or source them by performing a search. To search, tap on the magnifying glass icon, start typing, and go to the Tags tab. Once you’ve found a tag you’re interested in following, tap on the phrase and then the blue Follow button underneath it.
A picture says a thousand words, so Instagram now allows hashtag emoji. If you want to know who else is using your favorite emoji, you can also search for them.
Too Legit To Quit
Instagram has its own Twitter-like blue check-mark verification. If you want one, go to Settings > Account > Request Verification and fill out the form.
Instagram says its requirements for verified accounts are:
Your account must represent a real person, registered business, or entity
Your account must be the unique presence of the person or business it represents. Notable entities (for example pets or publications) are also eligible
Only one account per person or business may be verified, with exceptions for language-specific accounts
Your account must be public and have a bio, profile photo, and at least one post
Your account must represent a well-known, highly searched-for person, brand, or entity
You’ll have to submit a photo of a government-issued ID with your name and date of birth. Requesting verification doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but you have nothing to lose by trying.
Content and Discontents
Life might look ideal on Instagram but it’s as rife with issues as any other social media platform. You can report posts that contain misinformation, show self-harm, seem like scams, and more. Click on the ellipsis of the problematic post, then Report, and select one of the issues.
Court of Appeals
If you have ever had your Instagram account disabled, the Instagram Help Center often does not live up to its name. But there’s now an appeals process(Opens in a new window) in place. When you try to get into a locked account, an in-app appeal option appears. Add your full name, email, an explanation of your issue, select Request a Review, and hope for the best.