UPDATE: After years of making it harder than it should be to post to Instagram from a desktop or laptop, in late-2021 Facebook quietly enabled the option on the Instagram.com website to post directly from a computer web browser. So you no longer need to use the tricks mentioned below to circumvent the old restriction.
I’ll leave the original section below for the moment but have added a quick update to the top of this post outlining the new feature. I aim to update this whole post soon once I’ve had more of a chance to experiment with it.
But here’s an overview of the new functionality for posting directly from a computer to Instagram.com.
You Can Now Post Directly to Instagram from a Desktop or Laptop (without Tricks or Apps)
Instagram has quietly added a new button to their website. After you log into your account through a web browser, you should see a new + button in the toolbar. (And to be clear, this is just the standard web browser window without resorting to spoofing a mobile user agent.)
It looks like this:
You’ll then get the magic words:
And, thankfully, they’ve implemented this properly, with the usual feature set.
For example, you can upload multiple photos at once. In this case, I’ve uploaded a series of 10 images for a single post. You can see the left/right arrows on either side, the multi-image icon at bottom right.
You can select the display crop:
You can apply filters:
And make image adjustments:
You can add a caption, tag (click within the image), specify a location, add accessibility ALT information for photos, and turn off comments.
So far it’s been working as expected for me. I can see myself sharing more photos on Instagram now that there’s less friction going from the photos on my computer to Instagram posts.
What You Can’t Do
There’s no facility to schedule posting. For that, it seems you’ll still need to use one of the services outlined below.
There does not seem to be a way to post stories or reels, but I’ll keep playing with it and update here as necessary.
Hat tip to reader Black Tulip for alerting me to this.
If the Post Button Isn’t Showing Up
- This is a new feature. It’s might be rolling out to accounts gradually. Facebook/Instagram don’t publish how they determine the order of rollouts of things like this.
- Try clearing your browser cache then closing and re-opening your browser.
- I haven’t tested this yet on a wide range of browsers. It’s working for me on Chrome, Brave, Safari, and Firefox.
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.
But other options do exist that might work better for some Instagram users, whether you’re using it for social media marketing or sharing photos privately with friends and family.
Here are several other ways to post from your PC directly to Instagram without needing to use your phone. They include third-party apps and browser tricks. Some are free; some are paid. Some work on both Mac and Windows; some work on only one or the other. Each app or service and hack works a bit differently, and each has its own pros and cons.
Two things to note. Firstly, Instagram very strongly encourages users to upload images from their mobile devices, and it’s not unheard of for accounts to be flagged or even closed when uploading from other sources, especially when it involves multiple images. So if you choose to use a third-party app to upload to Instagram, it’s worth doing so with some caution.Secondly, to interact with Instagram and post on your account, some of these apps and services require your login details. Unless otherwise noted, I have used the apps and services listed here and haven’t come across any adverse consequences, but you should still be cautious before handing over login details to third-party services. The safest options are ones like the user-agent spoofing method where you don’t hand over your login details to third-parties.
Via a Web Browser
If you’re only posting to Instagram occasionally from your computer, this is a very good option. It’s free and straightforward. But some users report that their computer’s web browser setup doesn’t refresh to the mobile version of Instagram for some reason.
Normally, when you open the Instagram site in your desktop’s web browser you get a stripped-down version of the site. It allows you to do some things like comment on photos, but it doesn’t include a way to create new posts.
Several newer browsers have a function that can be used to make the Instagram site think you’re accessing it with a mobile device so that the posting feature becomes available. It’s called user agent spoofing. You can do it yourself–I’ve put together a detailed guide on how to use user agent spoofing with Instagram with major browsers–or you can use a browser plugin that does the heavy lifting for you, such as Desktop for Instagram or User-Agent Switcher for the Chrome browser.
Advantages of this method are that it’s free and doesn’t require installing a third-party app or plugin (unless you’re going the browser plugin route, of course). It also doesn’t require you to hand over your login credentials to a third party. But there are also disadvantages–not all Instagram features are available through the website. So you might run into limitations on features such as in-photo tagging, multi-photo posts, or stories. And there’s no way to schedule posts using this method.
Uplet is one of the simplest options if you’re using a Mac. I’ve also put together a more detailed post on how to post on Instagram from Mac that includes other Mac apps and methods.
It’s very simple, but it gets the job done. I’ve found it to be lightweight, easy to use, and to work as advertised.
Its core is a drop panel. Simply drop the photo files onto it, fill out the caption info, and hit send. You can upload multiple photos or videos at once (each posts as a single post). It doesn’t have any filters or advanced editing features, but that simplicity is a big part of its appeal. One feature that has been recently added, though, is the ability to work with multiple Instagram accounts and toggle between them.
So if you’re on a Mac and looking for something straightforward, it’s well worth a look.
It’s available directly from the developers, or a great way to get it is through the Setup subscription, which has a 7-day free trial. Setapp gives you access to a couple of hundred great Mac for a flat monthly fee.
I’ve put together a more detailed guide on using Uplet to post to Instagram that includes more screenshots.
If you’re using a Mac, another good option I like is Grids. I have a more detailed writeup on it here.
And there are some 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. UPDATE: It appears that this extension is no longer available.
Gramblr offers a lot of features, and I initially found it to work well. But I no longer use or recommend it. While I never encountered any unwanted behavior, too many other people have reported problems.
It works a little differently to the other options on this page. 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. 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. It also offers scheduling.
LR/Instagram integrates with Lightroom, allowing you to upload directly. As of the beginning of 2020, LR/Instagram is no longer a viable way to post directly to Instagram. The developer’s note on their website says: “Service Note: Instagram has updated their protocol and currently plugin does not work. We are investigating the issue and the plugin will be updated when a fix is available.” That note has been there since at least the summer of 2019.
Flume Pro is a Mac Instagram client that I found to work well some time ago, but I no longer use or recommend it. I’ve received several reports from readers more recently that it is no longer working as expected with full functionality, and it may have been abandoned.
Things Worth Knowing
Is there an official Instagram desktop app?
No, there’s no official Instagram desktop app. There are some third-party apps that can interact in various ways with the Instagram service, but none of them has the full feature set of the Instagram mobile app.