Instagram has become the favorite social network of many -- and not just for teens or Millennials. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 32% of online adults use Instagram -- up 5% from the previous year. Compare that, for example, to 24% on Twitter.
Plus, folks don't just use Instagram casually -- 35% of them use it several times each day.
But for those who have never used the platform before, or those who just want to take their usage to the next level, Instagram has some lesser-known tricks and features. That's why we set out to find them and list them all in one place.
Whether you're a recruiter looking to showcase your company's culture, a marketer in the ecommerce industry, or an individual who's just looking to use Instagram in the best ways possible, there are tips and features here for you.
And for a quick overview of these hacks, check out this rundown from HubSpot Content Marketing Strategist Megan Conley.
Note: Before getting started, make sure you're operating on the latest version of Instagram. At the time of posting, the latest version is 10.20 on iOS, and varies according to device.
15 Hidden Instagram Hacks & Features
1) Get notifications when your favorite people post.
Never want to miss an Instagram post from your favorite influencers again? You can choose to get a notification every time a specific user posts a new photo. All you have to do is turn on notifications for each user individually.
To turn on these notifications, visit a user's profile, click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the post, and choose "Turn on Post Notifications" from the menu that appears.
Want to turn post notifications off? Just follow the same steps. It's important to note that you must enable notifications from the Instagram app in your phone's settings -- here's how.
- To allow notifications on iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings," then "Notifications." Choose "Instagram" and then turn on the setting to "Allow Notifications."
- To allow notifications on Android: Go to "Settings," then choose "Apps," then "Instagram." Select the option to show notifications.
2) See all the posts you've Liked.
Ever wanted to see the posts you've Liked, all in one place? All you have to do is go to your own profile and click the "Options" button -- a gear icon on iPhone/iPad, and three dots on Android -- then, click "Posts You've Liked."
To un-Like any of the posts you've Liked, simply go to the post and deselect the "heart" icon below it. Don't worry -- the user won't be notified that you've un-Liked the post.
3) Create a collection of saved posts.
In addition to being able to view all of the posts you've liked, Instagram also has an option to save or bookmark certain posts in collections that you create.
Start by going to your profile, and tapping the bookmark icon on the top-right menu above your photos.
Select the "Collections" tab, and tap "Create Collection." Below, I've created one for food-related posts I particularly like.
Hit "done," and you can start adding photos to your collection. To do so, tap the bookmark icon below the post you want to add.
Then, go back to your saved photos by following the previous steps. You'll see the photos you've saved -- to add them to your collection, select the collection you want to add to, and tap "Add to Collection." From there, you can add any of your saved photos.
4) See the posts your friends have recently Liked or commented on.
When you're looking to discover new people to follow on Instagram, there's nothing like asking your friends. There's a quick way to do that -- by viewing the recent liking and commenting activity of the people you follow.
To do that, click the heart icon at the bottom of the home screen -- the first thing that should appear is a list of likes and comments on your photos. Choose the tab near the top that says "Following," and you can see the activity of users you follow.
5) Look through pictures without worrying about accidentally Liking them.
This step is more of a hack than a feature. To look through someone's Instagram photos without "double-tap paranoia" -- the fear of accidentally liking a post you didn't mean to engage with -- scroll through Instagram feeds with your phone set to airplane mode. Without internet access, you won't be able to Like a photo, even if you accidentally double-tap it.
The pictures won't load in the first place if you start on airplane mode, though. You'll have to go to the feed first to load the posts, then turn on airplane mode, then start scrolling. When you reach the end of the first rows of posts and want to load more, simply turn airplane mode off, let more load, and then turn it on again. Cumbersome? Maybe a little, but it could be worth the paranoia mitigation.
- To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to "Settings" and then "Wi-Fi," and switch "Airplane Mode" on.
- To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see "Settings," and then touch it. Touch "Airplane Mode" to turn it on.
6) Clear your search history.
We swear -- this blog post isn't all about how to convince people you're not an Instagram creeper. But many of us can relate to the desire to clear our online search history everywhere, including on this particular social channel.Luckily, you can.
To clear your search history, go to your own profile and click the "Options" button (a gear icon on iPhone/iPad and three dots on Android). Scroll down and click "Clear Search History." When prompted, click "Yes, I'm sure."
7) Reorder filters, and hide the ones you don't use.
If you use Instagram a lot, chances are, you have a few favorite go-to filters, and others you never touch. To make editing photos easier, you can reorder the filters in your editing window, and hide the ones you never use.
To reorder or hide filters, add a new post and begin editing it. When you get to the filters page, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click "Manage."
To reorder filters, hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you'd like to move, and drag it to reorder. To hide them, deselect the checkmark to the right.
8) Use Instagram as a photo editor (without having to post anything).
Perhaps you love Instagram's filters and editing capabilities, but aren't quite ready to post the photo to your account -- right now, or ever. To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.
First, be sure you have "Save Original Photo" turned on in your settings.
Then, turn on airplane mode -- see instructions in #5.
Next, follow the normal steps to post a photo to Instagram: Upload the photo, edit it, and press "Share." An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but you'll be able to find the edited image in your phone's photo gallery.
9) Insert line breaks into your bio and captions.
When you write a caption in Instagram, you'll see the keyboard doesn't give you an option to press "Enter" or "Return." The same is true for your bio. So how do all those people put line breaks in there?
It turns out that all you have to do is press the "123" key in the bottom lefthand corner of the keyboard, and the "Return" key will appear on the bottom right.
I know this tip sounds simple, but a lot of people miss it -- myself included, until a colleague clued me in. We've seen some elaborate solutions out there for hacking through this problem, like writing the caption copy in another app, then copying and pasting it into Instagram. Thankfully, it's much simpler than that.
10) Hide photos you've been tagged in.
When someone tags you in a photo or video on Instagram, it's automatically added to your profile under "Photos of You," unless you opt to add tagged photos manually (see the next tip).
To see the posts you've been tagged in, go to your own profile and click the person icon below your bio.
Then, to hide the posts you've been tagged in from other users, click the three dots in the top right of your screen and choose "Hide Photos." Select the posts you'd like to remove from your profile, and when you're done, tap "Hide Photos" at the bottom of your screen. When prompted, tap "Hide From Profile."
This won't remove the posts themselves from Instagram, but it will remove them from your profile, so you and others can't access them.
11) Adjust your settings to approve tagged photos before they show up in your profile.
As we mentioned in the previous step, when someone tags a photo or video of you on Instagram, it's usually added to your profile automatically. But, you can change your settings to enable manually selecting which photos you're tagged in that show up on your profile.
To add tags manually, follow the same steps above to get to the photos in which you've been tagged, and click the three dots in the top right of your screen. Tap "Tagging Options," and select "Add Manually."
You'll still be notified when someone tags you in a photo. Once that happens, to manually add a tagged photo to your profile, tap the photo you were tagged in, then tap your username and select "Show on My Profile." And if you'd rather it not be visible, choose "Hide from My Profile" instead.
12) Browse posts from certain locations.
One fun thing you can do on Instagram is browse photos and videos from a specific location, or taken near your current location. I like to do that when I'm planning a trip somewhere, or want to check out a new restaurant and scroll through the pictures taken there.
Here's how to do both of these things.
To Browse Posts From at a Specific Location:
You can either search for a specific place, or you can click into a geotag on an existing photo.
To search for a specific place: Tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your home screen, which will bring you to the general search page. When you click into the search bar at the top, four tabs will appear. Choose "Places," and type in the name of a place. When you press "Search," it'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
To look at posts with a certain geotag: Go to the photo that's geotagged with that location, and click the geotag. It'll show you all the top and recent posts that were geotagged with that location.
Browse Posts Near Your Current Location:
Follow the same instructions above to get to "Places." Tap the search bar, and select "Near Current Location."
Choose which geotag you'd like to browse from the options that appear. Let's say I chose to browse posts with the Museum of Science geotag. When I click "Museum of Science, Boston" on the menu, I'll see the top and recent posts that were geotagged at that location.
13) Drive traffic to an external website.
One of the biggest frustrations people have with marketing on Instagram is that clickable URLs aren't allowed anywhere except the single "website" box in your bio. If you put a URL in a photo caption it'll appear as plain text, meaning users would have to painstakingly copy the URL, open a web browser, and paste or type it in there.
One sneaky way to get people to visit your Instagram profile, which is where that one clickable URL is allowed, is to use your photo captions to encourage people to visit your profile for a link. Then, update that URL frequently to point to your latest blog content, YouTube video, product, or offer.
Check out the example from food magazine Bon Appétit below. This photo's caption provides a text call-to-action to visit the user's profile so you can click the link related to the post.
Then, in Bon Appétit's profile, you'll see the link itself. Update this link frequently to point to your latest content or offer.
Plus, if you have a verified Instagram account, you can also add links to your Story. Right now, that feature is still being tested, so you can read more about it here.
14) Hide ads you don't find relevant.
Instagram tries to show you ads that are interesting and relevant to you. You might see ads based on people you follow and things you Like on Instagram, or the third-party websites and apps you visit.
If you see sponsored posts you don't find relevant, though, you can let Instagram know and slowly teach its algorithm what you like and don't like to see.
To hide ads on Instagram, tap on the three dots to the right of a post labeled "Sponsored," and choose "Hide This."
From there, it'll ask you to share why you don't want to see the ad anymore.
You can also opt out of seeing ads based on sites and apps off of Instagram and Facebook from your device's settings. Note that even if you choose to opt out of seeing these types of ads, you'll still see ads based on your Instagram and Facebook activity.
- To limit ad tracking on an iPhone/iPad: Go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy," then "Advertising." From there, choose the option to "Limit Ad Tracking"
- To turn off interest-based ads on Android: Go to "Google Settings," then "Ads." From there, choose the option to "Turn off interest-based ads."
15) Send photos privately to your friends.
Posting photos with all of your followers or with the public isn't the only way to share content on Instagram. You can also share them with individual or multiple users, kind of like a Facebook message or group text message.
You can either send a new photo to friends, or send a photo that you or someone else has already posted.
To send a new photo privately, upload a photo and begin editing it, as you would when editing a new post. When you get to the "Share" page, tap the top where it automatically says "New Post," but when prompted, select "Direct Message." From there, you can pick and choose whom you'd like to send the photo to.
You can access your direct messages at any time by clicking the mailbox icon at the top right of your homepage.
To send an existing photo privately, start by opening the post you want to share -- it can be your own or someone else's, as long as the latter has a public account. Next, click the paper-airplane-like icon below the post, then select who you want to receive it when the "Send to" box appears.
I might be biased, but Instagram is one of the most fun (and visually appealing) social apps around. And now, with these tricks, you can use it to an even fuller extent.
Plus, many of these features can help to enhance your brand's presence on Instagram. Now, you know how to use the app more efficiently, to make sure you're only tagged in photos you want to appear on your profile, and have even more ways to engage with the people who you'd like to be discovered by.
What other lesser-known Instagram features do you love? Let us know in the comments.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.