21.04.2021

How To Post a Live Photo on Instagram

Live Photos are a great addition to later iPhones that combine video and GIF imagery to create something more interesting than a still image. As soon as the option was released, the major social networks, Twitter, Facebook et al, updated to accept them. With the exception of photocentric Instagram. It took a while to figure out how to post a Live Photo on Instagram, but now you can.


Also see our article How To Add a Second Instagram Account to your iPhone or Android

Before we get on to posting a Live Photo to Instagram, let us discuss taking Live Photos first in case you have yet to try it. Once you do, I doubt you will ever go back to still images ever again!

Live Photos

Ignoring the contradiction of terms, Live Photos is a very neat feature added to the iPhone 6. Rather than taking a snapshot, Live Photos takes a 1.5 second recording. That recording has both video and audio and comprises a Live Photo. It is a neat idea that isn’t a photo and isn’t live from the second it is taken but is a very cool feature nonetheless.

To take Live Photos:

  1. Open your iPhone camera and enable Live Photos by selecting the bullseye icon in the top center of the screen. It should turn yellow once enabled.
  2. Frame your shot as you normally would.
  3. Press the shutter once.

The camera will then takes its 1.5 second Live Photo. You need to treat Live Photos as video shots and not move the camera if you can help it and frame the shot in advance. Remember that it records audio as well as images so be aware of ambient noise and what’s going on around you.

Live Photos can be taken with both the front and rear cameras. As the main camera is 12 megapixels and the Live Photo 1.5 seconds long, take too many and you will soon run out of space. A single Live Photo is comprised of a 3-4MB .mov file and a 2-5MB JPEG so will quickly use up your phone storage.

You view Live Photos in the Photos app the same way you would still images. You can also edit them to a degree. You cannot crop or cut the photo but you can add filters, text and that kind of thing.

Use a Live Photo on Instagram

Despite being all about images, Instagram has been very slow on the uptake of Live Photos. Sure it’s an Apple feature but with millions of iPhone users across the world, it makes sense to at least pretend to support them.

At the time of writing, Instagram only supports videos of 3 seconds or more. As a Live Photo is only 1.5 seconds, it won’t work. You can post the Live Photo as normal on Instagram but it will only appear as a still image which defeats the object. There is a workaround though, converting the Live Photo into a Boomerang.

Boomerangs are Instagram’s version of short videos. It uses your camera’s burst photo mode to take a series of shots that will create a moving image. You can also use it to convert a Live Photo. The usual limitation of Instagram also applies, any Live Photo needs to be less than 24 hours old to be available to post.

  1. Open Instagram and select the camera.
  2. Create a new story and swipe up to select your Live Photo.
  3. Upload a Live Photo and press and hold on the screen. This uses 3D Touch to create the Boomerang.
  4. Post the Boomerang to your story and compose the rest of your post as you wish.

It isn’t the most elegant solution around but it gets the job done until Instagram begins playing nicely with Live Photos.

If that solution really doesn’t work for you, you could always convert your Live Photos to GIFs and upload them to Instagram. Ironically, one of the best apps to convert to GIF is made by Google. Called Motion Stills, the app makes short work of converting images. If you use Motion Stills, you don’t have to use GIF format either as the app directly supports Live Photos.

Other apps such as Lively or Alive will also work but Motion Stills gets the job done. You don’t even need a Google account to make it work.

It is surprising that even months after Live Photos was introduced, Instagram still doesn’t play nicely with them. At the time of writing at least, you still need to work around this limitation to post them.

Do you have any other ways of posting Live Photos to Instagram? Tell us about them below if you do!

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2 thoughts on “How To Post a Live Photo on Instagram

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