How to Ditch Your Phone and Use Instagram on the Web Instead


Instagram has finally added the ability to upload photos and videos through your web browser, which means you can ditch the smartphone app and commit yourself to using the social network on your desktop instead. (Right?) Here’s everything you can (and can’t do) on Instagram on the web — and any device with a web browser, such as an iPad.

For the completely uninitiated, using Instagram in your web browser brings up the same feed that you’ll see on your phone. That means posts aren’t sorted chronologically, but rather by Instagram’s algorithm (based on a mix of what’s popular, what’s recent, and what you’ve interacted with most in the past).

Instagram on the web is a lot like Instagram on mobile. (Screenshot: Instagram)Instagram on the web is a lot like Instagram on mobile. (Screenshot: Instagram)

As on your phone, you can scroll horizontally through posts with multiple photos or videos, and you’ve got the familiar icons underneath each piece of content, so you can like, comment on, or save posts, as well as message the post author, by clicking on the relevant shortcut button.

Underneath each post you can see how many likes it’s attracted, and view a truncated selection of comments, with a box underneath to add your own (click View all comments to do just that). This is all more or less exactly what you’ll get inside the Instagram apps for Android and iOS, right down to the little three-dot button to the top right of each post that lets you report posts, unfollow accounts, and so on.

That three-dot menu does have one extra option on the web: embed. If you want to put an Instagram post somewhere else on the web, this is the way to do it — you’ll be given a snippet of HTML code you can copy and paste somewhere else. All of the same options are available when you click through to individual posts on Instagram profiles.

Stories have a slightly different interface on the web. (Screenshot: Instagram)Stories have a slightly different interface on the web. (Screenshot: Instagram)

The web interface follows the mobile app in terms of stories as well, up to a point: They’re right up at the top of your feed, though as you go through them on the desktop you’ll find they are slightly easier to navigate. You can see what’s coming up next and what you’ve just viewed in a carousel-style format, making it easier to go backwards or forwards or to jump between stories.

Overlays on top of each story let you post a comment, pause the story flow, and mute or unmute the volume. It’s an Instagram feature that actually works better in a web browser compared to a smartphone, especially if you want to bounce around between different stories in your feed.

How to Post From Your Desktop

This is the most recent addition to the online Instagram interface: Click the + (plus) button at the top, and you can pick out photos and videos from your computer, either by dragging them into your browser tab or by choosing Select From Computer. As of right now, you can’t capture directly from a webcam or connected camera.

When your photo or video is loaded, you’ll notice everything is more limited compared to the interface you get inside the mobile Instagram apps. You start off by cropping, if necessary, and then you can add filters and adjustments. There are fewer filters and fewer adjustment options on the web — brightness and contrast are here, for example, but not shadows and highlights — but the available selection is likely to be enough for the majority of users.

The desktop upload interface is not the most sophisticated. (Screenshot: Instagram)The desktop upload interface is not the most sophisticated. (Screenshot: Instagram)

At the final upload stage, as on your phone, you can add a caption and a location if you want to. A couple of options the smartphone app has that the web app doesn’t (at least not yet) are the option to cross-post something to Facebook, and the option to hide like and view counts on a particular post.

Also missing, for now at least, is the ability to post anything to your Instagram story from the web interface, though you can view it if you’ve already posted something from your phone. Of course, stories come with stickers and polls and text overlays attached, and it’s possible that these features are being worked on before Instagram decides to bring full feature parity between the web and the desktop.

The various other parts of Instagram can be found in the web app, too: You can access the Explore page and the search box up at the top, for example. You can also click through to individual profiles, including their highlights, and view your own profile (together with posts you’ve saved and posts you’ve been tagged in).

You can access some filters, but not all of them. (Screenshot: Instagram)You can access some filters, but not all of them. (Screenshot: Instagram)

Click your account picture and then Settings to access most of the Instagram settings you get through the app. There are some gaps: You can’t set sharing to other apps like Twitter and Tumblr from the web, and there’s no way to edit your Close Friends list through the desktop interface. Up in the top right corner you can click the heart icon to see notifications of likes and comments as they come in.

You can also access your direct messages on the web. Click the send button up at the top of the interface to get to your inbox, and click Message on the profile of any account you’re following to compose a new message. Here there are some discrepancies between desktop Instagram and mobile Instagram: You can’t send images that can only be viewed once, and you can’t send enhanced content (like boomerang videos or collages of images).


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