Instagram may be predominantly designed for mobile but that doesn’t mean you cannot use it on a computer. Like most social networks, Instagram realizes that the wider the user base of their platform, the more people will use it. With that in mind, here is how to sign up and use Instagram on a PC.
Also see our article Who Has the Most Instagram Followers Right Now?
To be honest, the process is much the same on a computer as it is on a phone or tablet. Only you access Instagram through your browser on the PC rather than the app. The look, feel and use of Instagram is much the same. If you use Windows 10, there is an app so there really is little difference.
The only downside with using a PC without the Instagram app is that you cannot officially upload images from the PC onto Instagram. Apparently this is because the platform didn’t want you uploading images you have spent the afternoon Photoshopping and showing up the other photographers on the site. Whether that is true or not doesn’t matter. There is no official support for image uploading from a PC, but there is a workaround that kind of works.
Sign up for Instagram on a PC
Signing up and using Instagram in a browser is a simple experience that works best for those of us who don’t like squinting at small screens.
- Navigate to the Instagram website.
- Fill in the form on the main page or use Facebook.
- Complete your profile if you don’t use Facebook.
- Explore the platform!
If you do decide to use the Windows 10 app, the process is much the same.
Type ‘insta’ into the Search Windows/Cortana box and select Instagram. If Instagram doesn’t appear, go to the Windows Store and install it. It’s free. Then follow the above process to join using your PC. Despite being an app, you still cannot upload images using this either.
Use Instagram on a PC
With the exception of image uploading, browsing and exploring Instagram is much the same across devices. The main page still shows your feed and you have the icons to explore, read notifications and check or change your profile. You can also download images should you wish to.
Instagram is the only Windows 10 app I actually use. While my phone is perfectly serviceable, I prefer a larger screen and the app serves well.
Upload images to Instagram from your PC
As mentioned already, Instagram does not officially support image uploading from anything other than a smartphone. The intent is to showcase images taken with our phones rather than professional shots that have been edited and improved beyond all recognition.
But there are workarounds. The easiest is probably to upload your images to cloud storage from your PC. Then access that cloud storage from your phone, copy the files to the phone or upload them directly using the Instagram app.
Chrome users can use developer tools to access the image uploader function. I have found this to be hit and miss. It doesn’t work on my home PC but does on my work PC.
- Open Instagram in Chrome,
- Right click anywhere on the page and select Inspect.
- Select the small tablet icon in the very top of the new inspection menu on the right. The view in the left pane should shift to a mobile view.
- The camera upload icon should now appear when you navigate the site.
I have had limited success with this but your mileage may vary.
There is also a workaround for Safari users but I haven’t been able to test it.
- Navigate to Preferences and Advanced in Safari.
- Select Show Develop menu in menu bar.
- Close Safari and reopen a Private session.
- Select Develop, User Agent and Safari – iOS 10 – iPhone.
- Log into Instagram and you should see the camera icon at the bottom as you would on mobile.
There are also browser extensions and a third-party Windows 10 app that can circumvent these restrictions. The Chrome extension Chrome IG Story allows full access to stories from your browser. This is ideal for exploring and downloading images. The Windows Store app InstaPic is a workaround for the Instagram app that allows you to upload images from your PC. InstaPic is a little buggy but is the only other way I know of to upload images without a smartphone.
It’s a shame Instagram limits image uploading to just mobile app users but that’s the way it is. Do you know of any other ways around this restriction? Tell about them below if you do!