In the past few years, Instagram has quickly become the go-to social network. And if you think it's just middle and high schoolers are the ones using the app, think again: Pew Research Center reported in 2015 that 26% of adult internet users use Instagram. Compare that with the 23% of adult internet users who use Twitter.
What's more, 53% of adults ages 18–29 years old say they use the app every single day.
To help beginners and advanced Instagram users alike familiarize themselves with the platform, we've put together a list of 15 of the lesser-known tips and features Instagram has to offer.
Whether you're a recruiter looking to showcase your company's culture, a marketer in the ecommerce industry, or an individual looking to take your Instagram game to the next level, there are tips and features in here for you. (I think we can all agree #4 is a game changer.)
And for further reading, check out this list of the 11 best photo and video editing apps for mobile.
Note: Before getting started, make sure you're operating on the latest version of Instagram -- version 7.13.1.
15 Hidden Instagram Hacks & Features
1) Get notifications when your favorite people post.
Never want to miss an Instagram post from your favorite people again? You can choose to get a notification every time a specific users post a new photo. All you have to do is turn on notifications for each user individually.
To turn on notifications for a specific user: Visit that user's profile, and open up one of their posts. Then, click the three dots in the bottom right-hand corner of the post, and choose "Turn on post notifications" from the menu that appears.
Want to turn post notifications off? Just follow those same steps.
Note: If you followed these instructions and still aren't receiving notifications, double-check that you've allowed notifications from the Instagram app in your phone's settings. Here's how:
- To allow notifications on iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings," then "Notifications." Choose "Instagram" and then turn on the setting to "Allow Notifications."
- To allow notifications on Android: Go to "Settings," then scroll down and choose "Apps," then "Instagram." Select the option to show notifications.
2) See all the posts you've Liked.
Ever wanted to see the posts you've Liked, all in one place? All you have to do is go to your own profile and click the "Options" button (a gear icon on iPhone/iPad and three dots on Android). Then, click "Posts You've Liked."
To un-Like any of the posts you've Liked, simply go to the post and deselect the "heart" icon below it. The user won't be notified that you've un-Liked their post.
3) See the posts your friends have recently Liked, commented on, and so on.
You already know how to see the posts of yours that others have Liked recently. But what about the posts the people you follow have Liked recently? Or what they've commented on others' photos, for that matter?
To view the recent activity from the people you follow: Click the heart icon at the bottom of the home screen that shows which people have Liked your photos. Then, choose the tab near the top that says "Following."
4) Look through pictures without worrying about accidentally Liking them.
Live in fear no more. This is more of a hack than a feature, but here goes: To look through someone's Instagram photos without "double-tap paranoia," scroll through their feed while on airplane mode. Without internet access, you won't be able to Like their photo even if you accidentally double-tap it.
The pictures won't load in the first place if you start on airplane mode, though. You'll have to go to the feed first so the pictures load, then turn on airplane mode, then start scrolling. When you reach the end and need to load more pictures, simply turn airplane mode off, let more load, and then turn it on again.
To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to "Settings" and then "Wi-Fi," and switch "Airplane Mode" on.
To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see "Settings," and then touch it. Touch "Airplane Mode" to turn it on.
5) Clear your search history.
I swear this blog post isn't all about how to convince people you're not a total creep. But let's face it: there are times when we all wish we could just clear our search history on Instagram. Luckily, you can.
To clear your search history: Go to your own profile and click the "Options" button (a gear icon on iPhone/iPad and three dots on Android). Scroll down and click "Clear Search History." When prompted, click "Yes, I'm sure."
6) Reorder the filters, and hide the ones you don't use.
If you use Instagram a lot, chances are you have a few favorite filters you use all the time, and others you never touch. To make editing photos easier, you can reorder the filters in your editing window and even hide the ones you never use.
To reorder or hide filters, upload a photo and begin editing it, as you would when editing a new post. When you get to the filters page, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click "Manage."
To reorder filters: Simply hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you'd like to move, and drag it to reorder.
To hide filters: Deselect any filters you'd like to hide by tapping on the white check mark to the right of the filter.
When you're done, exit the filter manager by tapping the "X" on the top right of your screen.
7) Use Instagram as a photo editor (without having to post anything).
Love Instagram's filters and editing capabilities, but don't necessarily want to post the photo to your account right now (or ever)? To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.
First, be sure you have "Save Original Photo" turned on in your settings.
Then, turn on airplane mode. Here's how to do that:
- To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to "Settings" and then "Wi-Fi," and switch "Airplane Mode" on.
- To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see "Settings," and then touch it. Touch "Airplane Mode" to turn it on.
Next, follow the normal steps to post a photo to Instagram: Upload the photo, edit it, and press "Share." An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but you'll be able to find the edited image in your phone's photo gallery.
8) Insert line breaks into your bio and captions.
When you write a caption in Instagram, you'll see the keyboard doesn't give you an option to press "Enter" or "Return." The same is true for your bio. So how do all those people put line breaks in there?
Here's a handy trick I learned from Stephanie in her blog, Life in Limbo: Write out your caption in a different app, copy it, and paste it into Instagram.
Stephanie's found that this doesn't work sometimes, but the app with the best outcomes has been the Facebook app. She suggests opening up the Facebook app and creating a new status by clicking "Update Status." Write your caption in the text box as if you were going to publish it on Facebook, line breaks included. Then, instead of posting it on Facebook, copy the caption and paste it into your Instagram caption or bio. The app should preserve your line breaks.
While this is a great hack, keep in mind that Instagram recently started capping captions at three lines without users having to click "More" to see the whole thing.
9) Hide photos you've been tagged in.
When someone tags you in a photo or video on Instagram, it's automatically added to your profile under "Photos of You," unless you opt to add tagged photos manually (see the next tip).
To see the posts you've been tagged in: Go to your own profile and click the person icon on the far right below your bio.
To hide the posts you've been tagged in from your profile: Once you're looking at the posts you've been tagged in, click the three dots in the top right of your screen and choose "Edit Tags." Then, select the posts you'd like to remove from your profile. When you're done selecting posts, click "Hide From Profile" at the bottom of your screen. When prompted, click "Hide From Profile" again.
This won't remove the posts themselves from Instagram, but it will remove them from your profile so you and others can't access them.
10) Adjust your settings to approve tagged photos before they show up in your profile.
Again, when someone tags a photo or video of you on Instagram, it'll automatically be added to your profile by default. But you can change that so you can manually select which photos you're tagged in show up on your profile.
To add tags manually: Go to your own profile and click the "Options" button (a gear icon on iPhone/iPad and three dots on Android). Select "Add Manually."
Once you choose to add photos to your profile manually, you'll still be notified when someone tags you in a photo.
To manually add a tagged photo to your profile: Tap on the photo you were tagged in, then tap your username and select "Show on My Profile." (If you'd rather not, simply choose "Hide from My Profile" instead.)
11) Remove photos from your photo map.
Alright ... if you're seeing this for the first time, I'm about to show you something a little creepy. When you go to your profile and click the location pin icon under your bio, a map will appear, which groups photos by where you were when you posted them.
Here's what the map looks like. As you can see, you can zoom in on that map to a better idea of the specific location that photo was taken ... right down to the street level. Yikes.
If this realization creeps you out, you may want to remove the location data on some or all of your photos.
(Note: This is different from simply removing the geotag from an individual photo. Here, we're removing all the location data that Instagram recorded and attached to a photo at the time that you took it. If you geotagged the photo, it'll remove the geotag, too. If you didn't geotag the photo, it would still have shown up on the map if your phone settings let Instagram know your location, so this step would remove the rest of its location data.)
Luckily, Instagram doesn't make you go through individual photos to remove the location data from a photo. Instead, it lets you remove location data from photos in batches -- and right from your map in the Instagram app.
To remove location data from photos: Go to your profile and click the location pin icon under your bio.
From there, you'll see the map that groups photos by where you were when you posted them. You can zoom in and out on different parts of the map to get photos' more specific locations.
When you've narrowed in on which group of photos you'd like to go through to remove location data, click "Edit" at the top right of your map. As shown in the screenshots below, the numbers on the photos will turn from blue (left) to green (right).
Tap a grouping of photos and click "Edit" in the dropdown menu that appears.
A new window will open that displays the photos from that grouping in one place. From there, you can deselect the photos from which you'd like the location data removed -- either one by one, or by choosing "Deselect all."
Once you've deselected posts to your liking, click "Done" on the top right of your screen. In the window that appears, click "Confirm."
POOF -- location data will be removed from those photos forever. (Note: When you remove the location data, it'll be removed permanently.)
(One more note here: The language "Remove 4 geotags?" is admittedly a little confusing. To reiterate, you're removing the location data from the photo entirely. If you geotagged the photo, it'll remove the geotag, too. If you didn't geotag the photo, you'll be removing the rest of the location data that was attached to that photo when you posted it. In the end, whichever photos you deselect will be removed from your map permanently.)
12) Browse photos taken in certain locations.
One fun thing you can do on Instagram is browse photos taken at a specific location, or taken near your current location. I like to do this when I'm in a particularly beautiful place, or when I want to scroll through photos taken at a specific event or something like that.
Here's how to do both of these things.
Browse Photos Taken at a Specific Location:
You can either search for a specific place, or you can click into a geotag on an existing photo.
To search for a specific place: Tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your home screen, which will bring you to the general search page. When you click in to the search bar at the top, four tabs will appear. Choose "Places," and type in the name of a place. When you press "Search," it'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
To look at photos from a certain geotag: Go to the photo that's geotagged with that location, and click the geotag. It'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
Browse Photos Taken Near Your Current Location:
Tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your home screen, which will bring you to the general search page. When you click in to the search bar at the top, four tabs will appear. Choose "Places," and click "Near Current Location."
Choose which geotag you'd like to browse from the options that appear. Let's say I chose to browse photos tagged with the HubSpot geotag. When I click "HubSpot" on the menu, I'll see the top and recent posts that were geotagged with "HubSpot."
13) Drive traffic to an external website.
One of the biggest frustrations people have with Instagram -- especially businesses -- is that it isn't a great platform for driving traffic away from the app to a website, a Twitter page, or somewhere else. Why? Because clickable URLs aren't allowed anywhere except the single "website" box in your bio.
If you put a URL in a photo caption, it'll appear as plain text, meaning users would have to painstakingly copy the URL, open a web browser, and paste or type it in there.
One sneaky way to get people to visit your Instagram profile, which is where that one clickable URL is allowed, is to use your photo captions to encourage people to visit your profile for a link. Then, update that URL frequently to point to your latest blog content, YouTube video, product, or offer.
Check out the example below. On the left, the photo caption provides a text call-to-action to visit the user's profile so you can click the link related to the post. On the right, you'll see the link itself. Update this link frequently to point to your latest content or offer.
Image Credit: SmartInsights
14) Hide ads you don't find relevant.
Instagram, like its parent company Facebook, tries to show you ads that are interesting and relevant to you. You might see ads based on people you follow and things you Like on Instagram, your information and interests on Facebook, and the third-party websites and apps you visit.
If you see sponsored posts you don't find relevant, though, you can let Instagram know and slowly teach its algorithm what you like and don't like to see.
To hide ads on Instagram: Tap on the "Sponsored" label on the top right of any ad, and choose "Hide This."
From there, it'll ask you to share why you don't want to see the ad anymore.
You can also opt out of seeing ads based on sites and apps off of Instagram and Facebook from your device's settings. Note that even if you choose to opt out of seeing these types of ads, you'll still see ads based on your Instagram and Facebook activity.
- To limit ad tracking on an iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy," then "Advertising." From there, choose the option to "Limit Ad Tracking"
- To turn off interest-based ads on Android: Go to "Google Settings," then "Ads." From there, choose the option to "Turn off interest-based ads."
15) Send photos privately to your friends.
Sharing posts with all your followers or with the public isn't the only way to share photos on Instagram. You can also share them with individual users or with groups, kind of like a Facebook message or text.
You can either send a new photo to friends, or send a photo that you or someone else has already posted.
To send a new photo privately: Upload a photo and begin editing it, as you would when editing a new post. When you get to the "Share to" page, choose "Direct" at the top of your screen. From there, you can pick and choose whom you'd like to send the photo to, whether it's an individual, a new group, or an existing group. When you click "Send," it'll start a direct conversation with that person or group.
You can access your direct messages at any time by clicking the mailbox icon at the top right of your homepage.
To send an existing photo privately: First, open the photo. It can be your own photo or someone else's, as long as they have a public account. Next, click the curved arrow icon to the right of the Like and comment icons underneath the photo. From there, select whom you'd like to send it to. You can add a message if you'd like, and then click "Send."
What other lesser-known Instagram features do you know about? Share with us in the comments.