Instagram is first and foremost designed as a mobile app. You’re really supposed to upload from your phone, using photos you took on the phone, and in real-time (or at least, non-automated).
But that doesn’t work for everyone. Maybe you like to edit your photos in something like Lightroom first. Maybe you want to upload photos or video taken on a camera that’s not your phone. Or maybe you just don’t like typing long captions on your phone and would prefer to use a real keyboard.
Sure, you can email the photos from your computer to your phone, save them on your phone, and then upload through the Instagram app. But that’s pretty cumbersome and tedious. You can also use something like Hootsuite to schedule your Instagram posts, but their approach really only gets you halfway there and doesn’t bypass the need to use your phone to do the actual posting–it’s more like a reminder service. Buffer and Sendible tackle it basically the same way.
But other options do exist that might work better for some Instagram users. Here are three of them.
All of these are apps that let you upload from your computer directly to Instagram without needing to use your phone. But beyond that broad stroke, there are some significant differences with their features and how they work. Here’s a quick rundown of how they work.
I’ve found it to be lightweight, easy to use, and to work as advertised. It doesn’t have any filters or advanced editing features, but that simplicity is a big part of its appeal.
Once you’ve installed it on your Mac and run it, the main screen is about as simple as can be. You log into your Instagram account in the top panel, providing your username and Instagram password. That then gets stored in the app’s memory so you don’t need to re-enter it every time.
The rest is just a drop panel. You can drag one or multiple photos onto it or use the + button to open the usual dialog to browse for them. A recent update has also added the ability to upload videos.
Once you’ve added a photo, you can choose whether to display it cropped as a square or in a rectangular format using the small arrows in the bottom left of the image. You can post photos with aspect ratios between 1.91:1 and 4:5.
Under that is the caption and tagging section. Just type whatever text you want in that section.
Once you hit the Share button, you’ll get a progress dialog.
And then a notification of successful upload.
You can also add multiple photos at once. Simply drag them all at once onto the window. You’ll then get the navigation arrows at the top of the image to move between them. Add your text below each one individually and then hit Share all. It’s important to note that this uploads them all immediately–it doesn’t stagger or schedule them.
I asked the developers whether there were any plans to add scheduling capabilities, and they said there aren’t because it would conflict with Instagram’s policies against automatic posting. It would also presumably add multiple layers of complexity, which would go against the simplicity-of-use of Uplet.
You can find it in the Mac App Store.
Grambler takes a quite different approach. It’s more complicated, but it also offers a lot more features. There are versions for Mac and Windows.
There are two parts to it, an app that you install on your computer and a web service. They work together in getting your photos from your desktop to posting on Instagram.
The desktop app part of it is a utility app that really just runs in the background. Once you’ve installed it, you open it to launch the main Gramblr screen and then it just quietly takes care of things behind the scenes. All your main interactions are with the web service.
Gramblr will also require your Instagram username and password in order to interact with your account, which is less than ideal in terms of security but is unfortunately pretty standard for these third-party apps for posting to Instagram.
For the web service you need to create an account. Once you’ve logged in you get a screen that looks like this:
The main functions are all pretty straightforward. You drag and drop photos or videos onto the panel, and choose your cropping. You can only upload one image at a time.
There’s also a full suite of image editing tools like exposure controls and sharpening. There are also features like filters, frames, stickers, adding text overlays, and redeye correction.
With Gramblr you can also schedule the post for some point in the future. Just choose the date and time and hit Send.
The image/s or video/s will then be added to the upload schedule queue, where you can see a list of all your upcoming posts.
There is, however, an important catch with the scheduling: your desktop computer has to be running for the scheduled posts to actually post. Here’s how Gramblr puts it:
You must keep your computer ON for uploads to take place. If it is asleep, it will wake up for the upload. If it is shut down or hibernating, it will not wake up. If your computer cannot contact our servers within 30 minutes, the upload will expire and it will never occur. Check your power settings to make sure you are on High Performance. All uploads will occur +/- 10 minutes from the specified time.
If you’re so inclined, you can also set things like buying likes, auto liking posts, or earning “coins.” Frankly, none of those are of interest to me, but they’re there if you want them. Here’s how the folks at Gramblr explain the coins feature:
We wanted to create something for our users to do together, and we thought creating a little “game of likes” would be quite fun. It’s a nice way to see and like other people’s pictures, and being able to expect the same in return if you want to! We think it could become an easier way for some people to get noticed and get followers too.
Since I originally posted this, I’ve had a number of questions from readers. I’m not associated with Gramblr at all–other than being an occasional user of their service–but here are some common issues that have been raised:
- With Gramblr you can only upload one image at a time. You can, however, have multiple images sitting your scheduling queue.
- In what is presumably a bug, Gramblr doesn’t work with portrait (vertical) rectangular images. Hopefully this will be something that the developers will resolve, but for now, it doesn’t work.
- It does support multiple Instagram accounts. You access the Switch Account function by clicking on your username in the top right when you’re logged into Gramblr.
The reason I say “interacting” is that there are two versions that allow different things, although that’s not as clear as it could be.
The free version acts as an Instagram viewer, so you can do things like view images, add comments, and like images. To actually upload images or videos and tag them you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version for $2.99 a month. (Video upload is not available in the Windows version.)
It’s straightforward enough to use. The screen looks like the older version of the Instagram mobile app and works basically the same way—it’s essentially an emulator without needing to install a separate emulator host. It doesn’t have scheduling or batch uploading options.
If you’re already using Lightroom, it’s very convenient to be able to post directly from Lightroom. You can crop and add padding with Lightroom’s normal editing tools, and there’s no need to open a web browser or other app. You can also add a caption and hashtags from within Lightroom. It doesn’t allow some of the other synchronization options that publish services typically offer–you can’t edit the photo or caption and republish it, for example. You don’t have access to Instagram’s built-in features (although you can, of course, use the much more powerful filter options in Lightroom), and there’s no scheduling functionality.
It’s shareware, with a $10 licensing fee, and you can download it here.
I plan to have a more complete review of LR/Instagram posted shortly–I’ll update here when it’s up.
Here are some other alternatives that are available but that I’ve found less useful for one reason or another.
Instagram on PC via Bluestacks: Bluestacks is an Android mobile emulator that runs on your computer. You can then install and run mobile apps inside it, including the Instagram app. I couldn’t get this to work properly on Mac, but your mileage might vary.
Instagram from Computer: This is a Chrome browser extension. I haven’t tried it and can’t vouch for it. It appears that this extension is no longer available.