Instagram For Dummies book cover

Instagram For Dummies

Authors:
Jenn Herman ,
Published: October 15, 2019

Overview

Are you on Insta? Start sharing pictures and a lot, lot more

Instagram For Dummies helps you navigate Instagram and all the updates coming to the platform. For new and experienced users, this book keeps you in the know, so you can post to your feed, create Reels and Stories, broadcast and watch live video, and so much more. This handy guide covers creating Reels to attract more followers, adding updates and stickers for stories, and the addition of multiple feeds so you can customize your experience. There are so many new features coming to this ever-more-popular social platform, you need a friend like Dummies to help you keep up. Create viral content, or just share cat pics with your close friends and family.

  • Learn the basics of the Instagram app and web interfaces
  • Get started with your first posts, Stories, and Reels
  • Discover the many new features that are making Instagram more fun than ever
  • Find out how to make your posts scroll-stopping and more popular

This is the perfect how-to guide for both newbie and experienced social media users who need a guide on setting up Instagram, expanding their audience, and doing more on the app.

Are you on Insta? Start sharing pictures and a lot, lot more

Instagram For Dummies helps you navigate Instagram and all the updates coming to the platform. For new and experienced users, this book keeps you in the know, so you can post to your feed, create Reels and Stories, broadcast and watch live video, and so much more. This handy guide covers creating Reels to attract more followers, adding updates and stickers for stories, and the addition of multiple feeds so you can customize your experience. There are so many new features coming to this ever-more-popular social platform, you

need a friend like Dummies to help you keep up. Create viral content, or just share cat pics with your close friends and family.
  • Learn the basics of the Instagram app and web interfaces
  • Get started with your first posts, Stories, and Reels
  • Discover the many new features that are making Instagram more fun than ever
  • Find out how to make your posts scroll-stopping and more popular

This is the perfect how-to guide for both newbie and experienced social media users who need a guide on setting up Instagram, expanding their audience, and doing more on the app.

Instagram For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Before you start using Instagram, you may want to learn the lingo that Instagrammers use. Instagram doesn’t like accounts that act spammy or over-engage in certain behaviors, so you need to become familiar with a number of restrictions. When you follow other Instagram profiles, you can share posts, videos, and even entire profiles in a direct message to another Instagram user. [caption id="attachment_265464" align="alignnone" width="400"] ©GingerArt / Shutterstock.com[/caption]

Articles From The Book

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Instagram Articles

How to Use Instagram Filters

Instagram has a ton of filters to help improve your photos. Start by taking a shot for an Instagram post. The photo you take appears in the Instagram viewer of the Filter screen. The screen contains the following four sections, from top to bottom:

  • The top menu bar, with a < (back) icon on the left, the Lux icon in the center, and the Next link on the right
  • The viewer, which displays your photo
  • A row of filter thumbnail images so you can see what your photo will look like with a filter applied
  • The bottom menu bar, with a Filter menu option (selected by default) and the Edit option

Not interested in editing your photo in Instagram? Simply tap the back icon in the upper-left corner to save your photo. Instagram saves your photo automatically and displays the camera screen so you can take a new photo if you want.

Applying an Instagram filter

Below your
Instagram photo in the viewer is a row of filters. Each filter includes a thumbnail image so you can see the filter’s effect on your photo. Swipe from right to left in the row of thumbnail images to view all 23 of Instagram’s filters, from Clarendon to Nashville. (Normal is the default image, without a filter.) Tap a filter thumbnail image, and the photo in the viewer changes to show you the photo with that filter applied.

To return to the original photo, tap the Normal thumbnail. To continue processing the photo with a filter, either tap Edit at the lower-right corner of the screen to edit your photo further, or tap Next in the upper-right corner of the screen to add a description to your photo.

What happens when a filter is not quite to your liking and you’d like to tweak it? You can change the intensity of any Instagram filter (except Normal) by tapping the filter thumbnail image again. A slider appears; move it to the left and right to change the intensity. The photo in the viewer changes to reflect the selected intensity. The default intensity for each filter is 100. In iOS, a white box appears to the right of the slider. Tap this box to add a white frame around the photo. If you don’t like having the white frame, tap the box again. When you’ve set the intensity to just the right amount, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark (Android). If you’re still not satisfied and want to return the photo to its original intensity, tap Cancel (iOS) or the X (Android).

Keep in mind that any Instagram filter settings will revert to the default after you leave this screen.

If you want to see how the photo with a filter compares to the original photo, tap and hold down on the viewer to view the original photo. Release your finger to see the photo with the applied Instagram filter.

Managing Instagram filters

Are there too many filters or are your favorite ones are too far down in the list? No problem. Swipe to the end of Instagram’s filter list, and you’ll see a Manage icon. Tap the icon to open the Manage Filters screen where you can perform three tasks: Change the order of filters in the row, add filters, and disable filters. The filters on the Manage Filters screen appear in the same order as they do in the Filter screen. You can change the order of Instagram’s filters as follows:
  1. Tap and hold down on a filter name in the list.The filter name gets larger after you hold down on the name for about a second.
  2. Move the name in the list.As you move the filter name, other filter names helpfully move out of the way so you can see where your selected filter will appear in the list.
  3. When the filter is where you want it, release your finger.The filter name appears in your desired location in the list.
That’s all there is to it! To return to the Filter screen, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark in the upper right (Android). When you swipe up and down in the list of filters on the Manage Filters screen, you may see several names that don’t have check marks to the right of the filter name. These filters are disabled, but it’s easy to add any of them to the Filter screen: Simply tap a filter name that doesn’t have a check mark to the right of the name. A check mark is added, which means the filter is active. Tap Done, and you return to the Filter screen, where you see your new filter in the row of filters. If you decide that you don’t want to include one or more filters in the Filter screen, you can disable it by tapping the filter name in the list on the Manage Filters screen. The check mark to the right of the name disappears. (To add it back, just tap the disabled filter name again.) When you’re finished, tap Done (iOS) or the check mark in the upper right (Android).

Tweaking your Instagram photos with the editing tools

When you’ve finished experimenting with filters, view Instagram’s editing tools by tapping Edit (iOS) or Edit/Filter (Android) at the bottom of the screen. (Some Android users may see a wrench icon instead.) A row of editing tools appears below Instagram’s viewer. Swipe from right to left in the row of editing tools to see all 13 tools. Tap a tool to open it below the viewer. What you see below the viewer depends on the tool you tapped. For example, when you tap the Brightness tool, a slider appears so you can increase or decrease the photo’s brightness. No matter what tool you use, the photo in the viewer reflects the changes you make and a gray dot appears below the tool icon. Here’s what you can do with each of Instagram’s editing tools:
  • Adjust: You can adjust your photo in several ways by using the Adjust tool. Instagram automatically adjusts your photo to center it before you make any adjustments. A row of three icons and an associated slider bar appear below the photo so you can make the following changes:
    • Change the vertical or horizontal perspective of the photo by tapping the left or right icon, respectively, below the photo. After you tap the icon, it’s highlighted in black. The slider bar is a series of vertical lines. Swipe left and right in the slider bar to see the change reflected in the photo. As you slide, the highlighted icon above the slider bar is replaced with a box that shows you the change amount measured in degrees.
    • If the object in your photo appears tilted, tap the straighten icon in the middle of the icon row. Then swipe left and right in the slider bar to tilt the photo so that the object appears straight. As you swipe in the slider bar, a box appears in place of the straighten icon and shows you the number of degrees you’re tilting the photo.
    • Rotate the photo 90 degrees counterclockwise by tapping the rotate icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Keep tapping the rotate icon to continue to rotate the photo in the viewer.
    • Crop the photo to a specific area by first zooming in (touch the photo and spread your thumb and index finger apart) in the viewer. Then hold down on the photo and drag it in the viewer until you see the part of the photo you want to post on your Instagram feed. If you decide you don’t want to crop the photo, zoom back out to the photo’s original size by pinching your thumb and index finger together in the viewer.

      You can overlay a grid on the photo to help you center it. On the iPhone and iPad, the grid icon appears at the upper-left corner of the screen. Tap the grid icon to change the size of the grid. On an Android device, tap the photo until you see the size of the grid you want. If you tap the grid icon or photo often enough, you’ll remove the grid entirely.

  • Brightness: In the slider bar below the viewer, slide the dot to the left to darken the photo or to the right to make the photo brighter. As you move the slider bar, the photo in the viewer darkens or brightens accordingly.
  • Contrast: In the slider bar, make the light areas of your photo even lighter by sliding the dot to the left. Make the dark areas even darker so the focus is on the lighter areas of your photo by sliding the dot to the right.
  • Lux tool: At the top center of the Filter and Edit screens is an icon that looks like a magic wand. Tap it to open the Lux tool, which you can use to quickly change the exposure level and brightness instead of using the separate Brightness and Contrast editing tools. Move the slider to change the exposure level and brightness. When you’re finished, tap Done to save your changes, or tap Cancel to discard them.

If you want to undo any edits you’ve made, tap the Lux icon and then move the slider to its default location, 50. (The default setting for the Brightness and Contrast editing tools, however, is 0.) When you’re done, tap Done.

  • Structure: This tool enhances the details in the photo, such as adding color in an area that appears washed out in the original. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to see how the tool increases the details of the photo in the viewer. If you think the photo is too detailed, slide to the left to make the photo fuzzier.
  • Warmth: In the slider bar below the viewer, slide the dot to the right to make the colors warmer by adding orange tones or to the left to make the colors cooler by adding blue tones.
  • Saturation: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right or left to increase or decrease, respectively, the intensity of all colors in your photo.
  • Color: You can change the color of your photo’s shadows or highlights or both, as well as change the intensity of the tint. Eight colors are available: yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, cyan, or green.
    • To change the color of shadows in your photo: Tap Shadows, if necessary (it’s the default), and then tap one of the color dots.
    • To change the highlight color: Tap Highlights, and then tap one of the eight color dots, which are the same colors as those used for shadows.
    • To change the tint intensity for the shadow or highlight color: Tap the color dot twice. In the slider bar that appears below the viewer, slide the dot to the left or right to decrease or increase the intensity, respectively. When the intensity looks good to you, release your finger from the dot and then tap Done (iPhone or iPad) or tap the check mark (Android) to return to the Color page.
  • Fade: Do you want your photo to look like it’s been sitting in a shoebox for years . . . or decades? In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to fade the color from your photo or to the left to add color.
  • Highlights: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to increase the brightness in bright areas of the photo. Slide to the left to darken the bright areas in the photo.
  • Shadows: In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to lighten the dark areas in your photo. Slide to the left to darken the dark areas.
  • Vignette: This tool allows you to darken the edges of the photo so people will focus on the center of the photo. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right to darken the photo edges.
  • Tilt Shift: You can blur the outer edges of your photo and keep the center in clear focus so people will automatically look at the focused area. Tap Radial below the viewer to blur all four edges of the photo and keep the center focused in a circular shape. Tap Linear to blur just the top and bottom edges of the photo.

You can change the size of the “unblurred” area of the picture by tapping the center of the photo with your thumb and forefinger. Then spread them apart to make the area larger or together to make the area smaller. Tap Off if you don’t like the changes and want to keep your entire photo in focus.

  • Sharpen: This tool sharpens features that aren’t visible in the original photo, such as the texture on a wall. In the slider bar, slide the dot to the right and left to make the photo less and more fuzzy, respectively.
After you finish making changes to your photo, apply your effect by tapping Done (iOS) or the check mark (Android). Or discard the effect by tapping Cancel (iOS) or the X (Android).

Saving the changes (or not) to your Instagram photos

When you’ve finished using Instagram’s editing tools and filters, you can do one of three things:
  • Discard your changes and return to the Photo screen by tapping the left arrow icon in the upper-left corner and then tapping Discard in the pop-up menu.
  • Save your changes and continue editing by tapping the left arrow icon and then tapping Save Draft in the pop-up menu. Then Instagram takes you back to the camera screen, not your photo, so you’ll have to select the photo in your library to continue editing it.
  • Add a description to the photo by tapping Next in the upper-right corner. The New Post screen appears, where you can add a caption and location, tag friends, and decide if you want to share the photo on other social networks.
Now, go show the Instagram world all of your best shots!

Instagram Articles

How to Find and Interact with Instagram Stories

Instagram has a popular feature for users called stories. Instagram stories are located in a bar at the top of your newsfeed and are represented by a multicolored ring around the profile picture of the story’s creator. Tap the profile picture, and the story opens full screen for you to watch.

How to find stories to watch on Instagram

New stories (personalized for you) are shown first. By scrolling left, you can see all stories that the people you follow have published in the last 24 hours. The story vanishes 24 hours after it was posted.

When you view a person’s story, they can see that you’ve watched it. There is currently no way to block this feature. So, be aware if you’re looking at an ex's story. They know!

Instagram stories are also accessible from the top left of a person’s profile page. If the person has an active story, their profile picture has a multicolored ring around it. You don’t need to be following the person to see their stories, as long as their account isn’t private. Tap the profile picture, and the story opens full-screen for you to watch. After that person’s stories have finished, the stories page closes and you’re returned to their profile page. If you want to watch a continuing sequence of stories from people you follow, you must access the stories from the top of your Home feed. Instagram always takes you to the content you haven’t seen in that person’s story. For instance, if you watched two out of five stories by someone, Instagram would play the third story in the sequence when you came back within the 24-hour window of the post. Each person’s story has white dashes at the top that indicate the number of stories for that person that day. Instagram stories continue to play through each person’s entire sequence, and then go directly to the next person you’re following who has a current story, until you tap the X to exit (iPhone) or swipe down (Android) from Instagram Stories. (You’ll see some ads interspersed with stories from the people you follow.)

How to interact with Instagram stories

Instagram stories aren’t just for watching; you can interact with them too. You can skip the stories you’re not interested in, rewatch things you want to see again, pause a story, and react to a story.

Forwarding through Instagram stories you don’t like

With so many Instagram stories out there, there are bound to be some you’d rather not watch. Lucky for you, it’s easy to skip through individual stories from one person, or a complete story sequence from a person. To forward through one story within a person’s full story sequence, simply tap on the right side of the screen. You’ll skip to that person’s next story, unless it’s their last or only story; in that case, you’ll be taken to the next person’s story. To forward through a person’s entire sequence of stories, swipe left from the right side of the screen. You’ll skip that person’s full set of stories and move on to the next person’s stories.

If you’re searching for a particular person’s story, it may be easier to go directly to their profile and watch, or you can scroll through the profile circles at the top of your Home page to find the person whose story you want to watch. Tap that person’s circle to see their story.

When you’re finished watching, tap the X at the top right of the screen or swipe down to be returned to your Home screen.

Going back to Instagram stories you want to see again

The process of going back to see a story is the opposite of forwarding through a story (makes sense, right?). If you’ve already watched a few stories from one person, and you want to rewatch one or more stories from them, tap the left side of the screen until you reach the story you’re seeking. To go back to a different person’s sequence of stories, swipe right from the left side of the screen until you get back to that person’s story. Similar to forwarding, if you’re seeking a certain person’s story, it’s easier to go directly to their profile to watch, or scroll through the circles at the top of your Home screen to find that person. When you’re finished watching, tap the X at the top right of the screen or swipe down to be returned to your Home screen.

Pausing an Instagram story

Instagram stories tend to whip by pretty fast, and sometimes people add lots of text, or talk really fast to squeeze a lot of info in before getting cut off. Lucky for you, there is a way to pause a story so you can take it all in. To pause a story, just tap and hold anywhere on the screen, and the story remains frozen until you let go.

Reacting to an Instagram story

Reactions to stories are more limited than posts in the regular Instagram feed. You can’t “like” a story; you can only send a direct message or send a photo or video message back. To send a direct message in response to a story, follow these steps:
  1. Tap the Send Message area at the bottom of the screen. Quick Reactions (emojis) and a keyboard appears.
  2. Type a message or use one of the Quick Reaction emojis above the keyboard.
  3. When your message is complete, tap Send.
To send a photo or video message in response to a story, follow these steps:
  1. Tap the camera icon at the lower-left side of the screen. The photo/video screen appears with all the capabilities to add text, emojis, GIFs, and so on.
  2. To take a photo, tap the white circle. To take a video, tap and hold the white button for up to 15 seconds. You can turn the camera for selfie mode by tapping the circle arrows at the bottom right.
  3. Add any text, emojis, or GIFs you’d like to add to your photo or video.
  4. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to allow the person to View Once or Allow Replay.
  5. Tap the profile picture above Send to send your message.

Instagram story limitations

If you’ve watched a few Instagram stories by now, you’ve probably noticed that they’re all in vertical or portrait mode, and videos are in short sequences. Following, are the exact criteria for your Instagram photos, videos, and graphics in stories.

Upload criteria limitations

All photos, graphics, and videos are best in the following formats:
  • Image ratio: 4:5 (vertical only) or 9:16 for photos
  • Image size minimum: 600 x 1,067 pixels
  • Image size maximum: 1,080 x 1,920 pixels
  • File type: PNG or JPG for photos/graphics or MP4 or MOV for videos
  • File size max: 30MB for photos, 4GB for videos

If you take a photo or video within Instagram stories in portrait mode, you won’t have to worry about these size ranges — it will automatically fit. If you import photos, graphics or videos from other sources, you need to pay closer attention to sizing.

You can upload photos, graphics, and videos that are not in these image size ranges, but the Stories editor will likely either cut off part of your image or zoom in to wherever it likes, causing poor image quality.

Playing-time limitations for Instagram stories

Currently, you can only record or upload in 15-second increments. If you’re filming within the app, the camera will stop recording at the 15-second mark, and longer videos will not load from your camera if they’re over 15 seconds. This can be very challenging if you’re trying to explain something or tell a story.

If you need to record for longer amounts of time, there are several apps available to help you. Try CutStory, Continual, StoryCutter, or Storeo. They all work in a similar manner, allowing you to record a single longer video on your smartphone outside of Instagram, and then splitting it up into 15-second segments that are placed on your camera roll so you can upload them one-by-one. The app also makes the transition between stories more seamless than when you film them within the Instagram app.

Instagram Articles

How to Write a Dazzling Instagram Bio

Your Instagram bio is a short description on your profile that tells people about you. This description is the Instagram equivalent to a 30-second elevator pitch — it’s how you convince new visitors to follow your account. Most people will read your bio only the first time they visit your Instagram profile. Your bio is the first impression you give to new viewers and should accurately convey the message you want to share.

Deciding what information to include in your Instagram bio

Before you start writing your Instagram bio, choose at least two or three key aspects of your life to highlight. These should be traits that will connect emotionally, in some way, with your those you want to attract, such as the example shown below. You need to determine the voice and style of your bio. If you’re the next Amy Schumer, your Instagram bio should reflect that irreverent, hilarious style through words and relevant emojis. In contrast, if your identity is more straight laced and serious, your bio shouldn’t be silly and humorous.

Even if your profile is meant to connect with friends and family, sharing your personality and purpose in the bio will help clarify that to people who may find you.

The Instagram bio is limited to 150 characters, including spaces. The bio is designed to be one single paragraph of information, but you can use formatting techniques to add spaces and line breaks.

Because Instagram was designed to be used on a mobile device, it’s best to format your bio on a mobile device so that you retain the correct alignment. No matter what formatting you create, your bio on a desktop or computer device will always be one long paragraph spanning the width of the browser, unlike the vertical alignment seen on mobile devices.

Make use of emojis and symbols from your mobile device’s keyboard to create visual appeal in your Instagram bio. To add emojis, open the emoji keyboard on your mobile device — just tap the smiley-face icon at the bottom of your keyboard. Instagram is a visual platform, and having emojis in the bio helps yours stand out from other users. You have many emojis to choose from. If the traditional funny face and cartoonish emojis don’t translate to your style, use simple emoji symbols such as squares, diamonds, triangles, and arrows to add color and visual content without detracting from your professional style.

To hashtag or not to hashtag in your Instagram bio

Generally, hashtags are not a good idea in Instagram bios. Although they are clickable, if someone clicks the hashtag in your bio, he’ll leave your profile and explore the hashtag gallery results instead. Using a hashtag like #photographer will send visitors from your profile to millions of other posts using that hashtag. Using hashtags in your Instagram bio is not a viable way to get more followers or showcase your own content. You should only include hashtags in your bio if they’re specific to you, your content, or your business. For example, if you recently got married and you had a hashtag for your wedding, you can include that hashtag in your bio so that anyone tapping on it will find all the other content created at your wedding.

Formatting your Instagram bio

You can edit or create your bio by tapping the Edit Profile button in your Instagram profile. On the Edit Profile screen, go to the Bio field and insert the text for your bio. Save any changes when you’re finished. Android users can format a bio completely in Instagram. If you want to include line breaks and spacing, tap the Return or Enter key (on the keyboard of your mobile device) at the end of the line. Make sure that you don’t have an extra space after the final character on the line and that the last character on the line is not an emoji. If you have an extra space or an emoji as the final character, the space breaks you inserted with the Return or Enter key will not appear in your published text. iOS users can format a bio in Instagram, but line breaks will not be retained. Instead, it’s best to open the Notes app on your device and use it to craft your bio description, including all formatting. Then copy the bio, open Instagram again, select Edit Profile, and paste the description in the Bio field. As with Android users, you must ensure that no extra space appears after the final character on the line and that the last character on the line is not an emoji.

You can edit and rewrite your bio as often as you want. It’s a good idea to review your Instagram bio every six months to verify that the information is still accurate and relevant.

Considering layouts for your Instagram bio

Instagram has traditionally had the profile photo on the left side of the profile and the bio directly beneath it. As Instagram has added more features, like IGTV and Story Highlights, the profile section has gotten longer and taken up more space. To alleviate this problem, Instagram began truncating the bios with a “. . . more” link. Tapping the “. . . more” link will open the full bio. Additionally, Instagram started rolling out new profile layouts with the profile on the right side of the profile and a more condensed spacing to allow for better positioning of the bio content. You may see any variation of the bio formats above.

Adding a web address to your Instagram bio

Most people use web addresses in their bios when they’re using their Instagram profiles for business purposes. But there may be occasions where you want to share a website link even on your personal profile. Perhaps you want to send people to your YouTube videos, or to your personal gallery of photos on Flickr, or to a reservation link for an upcoming party. In any of these situations, or others, you can include the URL for that destination in the link location in your Instagram bio. The only place that you can place a clickable link on Instagram, as a personal profile, is in the bio. You can’t include clickable links in regular posts or stories. If you have any reason to send people to a website link, you’ll need to place that link here in the bio. From the Edit Profile button on your Instagram profile, there is the option to list a URL link. Simply copy and paste or type in the link address in this field. Your URL can be updated or changed as frequently as you like. You may have a default web page for your profile but change it to coincide with a promotion or campaign you’re running on Instagram. After that campaign is complete, you can change the link back to your default or simply delete it if you don’t have anything to drive traffic to. On a personal profile, you won’t get Instagram analytics regarding how many people clicked the link in your bio. If you wanted to use this feature for business and drive traffic for your business, you would want to upgrade to a business profile on Instagram.