17 Instagram Tips & Tricks

Use these essential Instagram tips to create incredible photos, share them with your friends, get more Instagram likes and dramatically improve your Instagram experience.

We combine Instagram tips from professional photographers and Instagram tricks based on science that will help you get more likes and learn when to post your Instagram photos for the biggest impact.

We’ll also cover the essential Instagram tips to customize how the app works so that you can save your photos, apply double filters, learn how to tag friends, send direct photos and fix Instagram problems and annoyances.

Instagram Filters Get More Likes

If you want to get more likes you should use an Instagram filter. While the #nofilter hashtag is trendy, a new scientific study analyzed photos on flickr and Instagram and discovered what adding a filter can do for your photos.

A photo with a filter is 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to get a comment. Part of this may be users sharing more interesting photos when they choose to use a filter, but you can’t argue with data.

Know when to use Instagram filters.Know when to use Instagram filters.

Know when to use Instagram filters.

Use the Best Instagram Filters

The same study looked at five filters and editing options on Instagram to discover which ones will get you more likes and comments.

Using a warm filter typically gains the most comments. Using the exposure tool to increase exposure results in more views. Not every filter adds to your likes and comments. Saturation effects led to lower views and age effects to lower comments.

Take Better Square Photos

Every photo you share on Instagram is a square, so it makes sense to take a photo that looks best in a square. Most smartphone cameras offer an option to take a square photo, or you can take the photo in the Instagram app.

#explorelgg4 in @downtownfindlay

A photo posted by Josh Smith (@joshnotebooks) on

Emil Pakarklis of iPhone Photography School shares 10 tips to take better looking square photos. You don’t need to memorize every one to take a better photo, but just understanding the principles behind better looking square photos is a start. Here are a few tips, with a full explanation in the link above.

  1. Put the subject in the Center
  2. Fill the Whole Photo
  3. Use Symmetry
  4. Smarter Rule of Thirds with a Grid
  5. Look for Diagonal Lines
  6. Shoot in Landscape and Crop

If you use these ideas when you are taking square photos you will improve the quality. Check out many samples and more detailed instructions at the link above.

Photos with Faces Get More Likes

Done. #toughmudder #ohio #finishers #freebeer #tired

A photo posted by Josh Smith (@joshnotebooks) on

A study from Georgia Tech found that Instagram photos with faces get more likes and comments than those without. Specifically, if your photo includes a face it is 38% more likely to get a like and 32% more likely to get comments than a landscape or photo of your meal.

You don’t always need to make this a front and center selfie, so experiment with placing yourself farther away in a photo.

Essential Accessories for Instagram Photos

You don’t need to choose between being in the photo and showing off a cool scene. Invest in a iPhone tripod and use the timer or your Apple Watch and you can place yourself into the photos.

#selfportrait #gorillapod #montreal

A photo posted by Martin Reisch (@safesolvent) on

Instagram user SafeSolvent suggests buying a GorillaPod for iPhone so that you can attach your iPhone to a tree, fence, ledge or other object. With this in place, you can set a timer and go get into the photo to make it about more than just another cool place you visited.

Safesolvent also shoots in Camera+ where there is a 30-second timer so he has plenty of time to get into the photo.

Tag People in Your Instagram Photos

Instagram lets you tag friends in photos so they are sure to see the photo. This is better than tagging them in the comments and you can do it before you share.

When you are on the Share to page, tap on Tag People and then tap on their face. Search by real name or Instagram user name and then tap on the name to tag. If needed, drag to another spot on the photo to fine-tune the position.

Send a Private Instagram Photo

You can send a direct or private Instagram photo to a friend or group of friends instead of to your followers. Take and edit the photo like you normally would.

On the Share to screen tap on Direct at the top. This switches from Followers and shows your list of Instagram friends. Scroll through to choose or tap on the magnifying glass to search. You can select one or many friends.

Use Instagram Hashtags Better

Two Instagram tips in one are available when you get ready to use hashtags. The first tip is to try the new Instagram emoji hashtags. This is an easy way to get your photo in front of more Instagram users and a playful way  to add some emotion to your photo. To do this, just enter a # and then use your emoji keyboard on iPhone or Android to make an emoji hashtag.


A photo posted by Josh Smith (@joshnotebooks) on

Another emoji Instagram trick is to post your photo with just a simple description that works on Instagram, Facebook and wherever else you want to share the photo and then entering the hashtags in the first comment on your photo.

Save Your Instagram Photos

You can tell Instagram to save your original photos so that you always have access to the photo you started with. Go to your profile in the app and then tap on Settings and turn Save Original Photos to On.

Now when you take a photo in Instagram it will save an unedited version to your camera roll. If you want to save an Instagram photo without sharing it, so you can add another filter or just keep a copy, turn Airplane mode on and then share it. The share will fail and the photo will still appear in your gallery or Photos app.

Control Instagram Photo Tags

By default anyone can tag you in an Instagram photo. This can lead to annoying and unflattering photos showing up as photos of you on your profile and can annoy you with notification spam.

Go to your profile in the app, tap on the right most option to see Photos of you and then tap on Settings. Next tap on settings in the upper right. From here you can choose if you want these photos to appear automatically or manually on your profile.

If you go to your profile in the app and then tap on Settings and Push Notification Settings you can turn off notifications for tags as well. 

Master Instagram Photo Tools

Before you post your Instagram photo you should experiment with more than the filters. Instagram includes a serious set of photo editing tools to make your photo stand out on Instagram.

Learn how to use the Instagram edit tools.

Learn how to use the Instagram edit tools.

The easiest way to master the Instagram photo editing tools is to move the sliders from side to side and see what makes your photo look best. Yes there are reasons to move a slider one way or the other, but the best way for the average user to make photos better is to experiment with the tools.

After you use this to switch between the various options and edit a dozen photos you’ll start to understand what effect to use and how much to apply to make your Instagram photos stand out.

Stop Instagram Video Auto Play

You can change the Instagram video auto play and sound options so that you don’t use up your data. For now Instagram only lets you change the setting from Always to WiFi Only, but it’s better than nothing. Use the directions here to stop autoplaying Instagram videos.

Take better Photos of Pets & Kids

If you have trouble catching a kid or a pet looking at you for your Instagram photos you need the Look Birdy app. This free app can use a bird noise and the camera flash to attract the attention of your kid or pet.

Add Text to Your Instagram Photos

Another way to make your Instagram photo stand out is to add text to it. There are a lot of apps that can do this, so you can find one that delivers the best look for your preference.

Instaquote is an excellent option for adding quotes to Instagram photos. You can follow our guide to adding text to Instagram photos for more details.

Make Amazing Instagram Collages

#progress #weightloss #before #after #😀

A photo posted by Josh Smith (@joshnotebooks) on

Another staple is a great Instagram collage that combines multiple photos into one. This is a great way to show before and after photos or to combine several photos from one event into one that can attract more likes than three or four photos alone.

There are no shortage of Instagram collage apps, but the official Instagram Layout app is a perfect one to start with. There are plenty of options to add photos, change the layout and customize the collage.

Add White Space to Show Off Photos

Borrowed from @zachbingham. Was a fun weekend.

A photo posted by Josh Smith (@joshnotebooks) on

Instagram is all about square photos, but you can add white or black space to the edges of your photo to highlight your photo and keep the original aspect. This is a great way to avoid cropping your photo to a square and cutting out an important part of the photo or someone in your photo.

No Crop is a great app to post to the Instagram without cropping the photo. This app can add a blurred effect to the edge of the photo or a solid color to the edges of the photo so that you can keep everyone in the photo. NoCrop is available for iPhone and for Android.

Master the Instagram Double Filter

Sometimes the best Instagram photo combines two filters or an edit in one app and then another edit in the Instagram app and a filter.

The easy way to do this is to take a photo in an app like Camera+ or another photo editing app and apply any filters and edits you want. Save this photo and then open it in Instagram to edit the photo again and apply another filter.

You can also use airplane mode to take a photo in Instagram, edit and apply a theme. When you share it with airplane mode the photo saves to your gallery. From there you can cancel that upload and then edit the new photo to apply  second filter to your photo before sharing it.