Over the past couple of months, you must have noticed a new thing in your Instagram. Some users show up at the top of the app now. When you tap them, it’s a new type of post. Whether video or audio, you can see words scribbled across, or designs and emojis. This is the new Instagram Stories. And here’s everything you need to know about it.
Instagram Stories is the photo-sharing giant’s take on Snapchat. In fact, Snapchat users will be right at home with this. The purpose of Instagram Stories is to add a new layer of fun to your images and videos, from striking captions to emotive emojis.
Instagram Stories Is an App Within an App
The big thing you need to know about Instagram Stories is that it’s quite disconnected from how you normally use Instagram. Instagram Stories has its own camera and editor. The only thing in common with Instagram is the people you follow.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you can and can’t do with Instagram Stories:
- You can only upload pictures or videos from the last 24 hours.
- You ideally need to shoot new photos and videos with the Stories camera.
- You can only use the Stories camera. You can’t use the default Instagram camera to shoot and then turn it into a Story.
- Stories supports filters, arguably the best part of Instagram.
- You cannot add hashtags to share your Story.
- You cannot Like a Story.
- You cannot publicly comment on a Story. You can only send a direct message to the uploader, which others can’t see.
- You cannot share a Story with others.
- You cannot tag other people in a Story.
- You cannot save others’ Stories, but you can save your own.
As you can see, the Instagram Stories app is substantially different from the main Instagram app. Many of the things you learned, such as Likes and hashtags, are not a part of Stories. You’ll need to relearn how to use it.
How to Create and Edit Instagram Stories
To create an Instagram story, tap the new plus icon at the top-left of the Instagram app, next to the name.
You’ll be greeted with a sparse interface with three buttons.
- Front or Rear Camera — Tapping the icon of “two arrows going in a circle” switches between the front or rear camera of your smartphone.
- Flash — Tapping the lightning bolt icon turns the Flash on or off. It’s off by default. When you’re using the front camera for a selfie, it makes your screen brighter to cast more light on your face.
- Take a Photo or Video — A single tap of the big central button will snap a photograph. Tap and hold the big central button to shoot a video. When you let go of the button, the video will stop recording.
To choose an image from your gallery, swipe down anywhere on the screen. The top will be a scrollable gallery of images you’ve taken or received in the past 24 hours. Scroll right to browse through them, tap any one to use it.
Unfortunately, the cropping works weirdly and doesn’t let you adjust the image. It’s great that Instagram doesn’t force the square aspect ratio any more, but Stories forces a horizontal aspect ratio. It needs to work better to frame photos the way the user wants.
How to Edit Photos or Videos
Once you’ve taken a photo or video, Stories will switch to the editor. Let’s start with how to apply filters, since it isn’t intuitive.
Swipe from the left edge of your screen to the right, or the right edge of your screen to the left, to change filters. It’s the same filters as you find in the Instagram app. Remember, filters that add warmth and contrast are the best to get noticed.
The editor’s interface has two basic options. First, you can scribble on it with your finger. And second, you can add text or emojis.
Tap the paintbrush icon to scribble. You can choose between three types of brushes, and a wide variety of colors. Use your finger to trace and scribble how you want.
Tap the Aa icon to add text or emojis. Your keyboard will pop up, so you can start typing. If your keyboard doesn’t have emojis built in, then download Swiftmoji, one of the best smartphone keyboards with extra functionality.
When you’ve written your caption, tap Done, and then type the Aa icon again. The text will immediately stick to the left side of the screen. You can now change how it looks. Tap and hold it to move it around. Place two fingers on the screen and rotate them to rotate the text. Pinch in and out with two fingers to make the text larger or smaller.
Once you’re done, you can download the Story to your memory, or upload it on Instagram to share it with everyone. You can even tap Cancel to discard everything you did.
How to View and Comment on Stories
Your Story will now show up at the top of the Instagram app of people who follow you on Instagram. Just like you see others’ Stories on your app.
Tap any user to see the Stories they have created in the past 24 hours. The app automatically scrolls to the next Story when you’re done with one. But you can speed up that process with two shortcuts.
Tap a Story you are viewing to skip to the next one. Swipe right-to-left on any user to move to the next user, or left-to-right to move to the previous user. This tip will be useful if you follow the 10 most popular Instagram users, since they publish lots of Stories, not all of which are useful.
The selection here also uses Instagram’s algorithmic feed, so it’s not a chronological list of who uploaded the last Story.
Settings and Options
When you tap the Stories icon to create a new Story, you’ll see a cog wheel in the top-left corner. Tap that to access Story Settings. Here, you can choose to hide your Stories from certain people, giving you more control over your privacy. You can also choose who to get direct message replies from.
Finally, Instagram offers the ability to automatically save photos and videos you upload. Switch this on if you plan to take images with the Stories camera that you might want to discard before publishing.
Are You a Fan of Instagram Stories?
What do you think of Instagram Stories so far? Do you like the new feature, or do you think it’s an unnecessary alternate “social network within a social network”? Do you think Instagram is copying Snapchat? Let’s talk in the comments below.