How to Use Instagram on a Computer

Using Instagram On Desktop Featured

One of the most popular applications in the world, Instagram has been at the forefront of the social world since its release in 2010. With more than one-billion users worldwide, Instagram has long been the place to share photos of anything and everything.

As a mobile-first application, Instagram has been slow to bring parity to its desktop experience. However, if you spend a lot of your time in front of a computer, Instagram on the desktop is a welcome break from long hours of work. Let’s take a look at all the ways to use Instagram on a computer.

Browsing Instagram on Your Desktop

This is the easiest and most basic way to use Instagram. The biggest difference between Instagram on your phone and desktop is that the latter adds a two-column layout with a toolbar at the top. With more space to play with, Instagram ensures that you have more visibility into post text as well as stories.

Using Instagram On Desktop View

To get started, log in to your Instagram account on any browser of your choice. You’ll quickly discover your main feed is on the left side which serves as the primary column. Like the mobile app, if there are multiple photos or videos, you will see an arrow indicating a carousel of content is available. There’s room to “Add a comment” on every post as well as view all current comments.

The toolbar at the top of the screen offers a search bar for any search you would like to perform. The second icon looks like a paper airplane and is your Direct Messages. The third icon that looks like the Safari browser icon is for discovery, including new users as well as trending content. The final icon on the toolbar is the heart, which serves as something of a notification center. All of this should be instantly familiar to any mobile application user. Beneath the toolbar icons and to the right of the main feed are all of your current Instagram stories. Click to view each story or to the right of a story to view the next one. If there are any Instagram Live videos, you’ll see a “Live” tag next to the story and can bring that up online.

Post Photos and Stories to Instagram on Computer

By all accounts, Instagram wants your desktop application to be mostly a viewing tool and instead drives you to the mobile application to post new content. However, there have long been a number of workarounds with the most popular being the “User Agent” trick. This action “tricks” Instagram’s desktop site into thinking you are using a mobile page. This works across all major browsers including Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge and more.

For Mac users, changing the user agent in Safari is really simple.

1. Open the browser and click on the word “Safari” from the taskbar at the top of the screen.

Safari browse Preferences

2. Select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu and then click on the “Advanced” tab which is the farthest tab on the right.

Safari browser Advanced option

3. Find the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” option at the bottom of the Advanced tab and make sure it is selected.

Safari browser show develop menu

4. You should now see a new option on the top of the screen taskbar labeled “Develop.” Click on it and the second option labeled “User Agent.”

Safari browser user agent

5. Click on the “Safari – iOS 13.1.3 – iPhone” option located beneath the currently-selected Default option.

safari browser select Ios 13 user agent

6. Safari now appears as a mobile device, and you will see the Instagram page change and a “+” button appear at the bottom of the page

Instagram showing Plus Sign on desktop

7. While this functionality works well, there are some limitations, as the desktop will not allow you to add multiple pictures or videos.

Post Photos and Stories to Instagram on Windows

Using Instagram On Desktop Chrome

Changing the User Agent on Chrome is just as straightforward. Open the browser and click on the menu button at the far right of the search bar. The menu button looks like three buttons stacked on top of each other. Select “More Tools” and then “Developer tools.”

As the developer tools appear, a bunch of text options appear at the top. Click the one labeled “Network,” then click the menu option to the right of “Network” which again looks like three vertical dots. Go to “More Tools -> Network Conditions.”

The bottom of the screen now shows an option for “User Agent.” Uncheck the “Select automatically” box, then select any mobile browser. The full set of instructions for Firefox and Edge browsers are available right here.

Sending a Direct Message

sending Instagram Direct Messages on desktop

Instagram recently announced the availability of Direct Messages on your desktop. As mentioned above, this option is located at the top of the screen near the toolbar and looks like a paper airplane. Click on the icon, and inside this screen you can read and respond to messages, share photos, or start a new chat.

As you can see, it requires a little hack to use Instagram on a computer. Do you know that you can watch videos together with your Instagram friends? And if your Instagram is not working, we have some fixes here.

David Joz
David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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