Instagram has always been about effortless photo sharing, never about uncompromised image quality. Your 12-megapixel iPhone photos may look nice on Instagram but look closer, and you’ll realize that all your uploads have been downscaled to fit 1080 pixels horizontally. The same goes for Instagram’s desktop app, which displays your uploads reduced to just 640 pixels wide.
If you want to avoid compression that occurs when uploading an image to Instagram in an unsupported resolution, follow the instructions laid out in this step-by-step tutorial.
Instagram image sizes
According to the Instagram Help Center:
When you share a photo on Instagram, regardless of whether you’re using Instagram for iOS or Android, we make sure to upload it at the best quality resolution possible.
Things are a bit more complex than that, though. In Instagram talk, “the best quality resolution possible” really means up to a width of just 1080 pixels. Yup, 1080 pixels. You read that right.
If you upload a photo between 320 and 1080 pixels, no resizing will take place. As long as the aspect ratio is between 1.91:1 and 4:5, it’ll appear on Instagram without compression. Share a higher resolution image, and the system will size it down to 1080 pixels horizontally.
If the aspect ratio of your photo isn’t supported, it’ll get cropped to fit a supported ratio.
- No processing: Photos with a width between 320 and 1080 pixels and a height between 566 and 1350 pixels, yielding an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5.
- Upscaling: If you share a photo at a very low resolution, meaning fewer than 320 pixels wide, Instagram will enlarge it to a width of 320 pixels.
- Downscaling: Any images with a higher resolution than 1080 horizontal pixels or 1350 vertical pixels will be sized down by Instagram’s servers to a width of 1080 pixels.
- Cropping: If your upload has an unsupported aspect ratio, Instagram will crop the image the best it can to fit a supported ratio (between 1.91:1 and 4:5).
This can all be very confusing, but don’t worry about a thing as we have you covered. Just follow along with us as we explain how to avoid compression when uploading your Instagrams.
How to upload photos to Instagram without compression
In order to avoid triggering Instagram’s downscaling algorithm that may result in compression artifacts, you must first resize your photo to Instagram’s preferred width of 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5. Otherwise, Instagram will recompress and resize your image.
There are plenty of options on the App Store for resizing iPhone images. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using the free Image Size app, but you can use any app you like.
1) Open the Image Size app and tap the big white frame to add your desired picture from the Photos app.
2) Make sure pixel is selected and in the width and height box, enter one of the following:
- For square images: 1:1 (1080 x 1080)
- For landscape: 1.91:1 (800 x 418)
- For portrait images: 4:5 (1080 x 1350)
As you can see that we aren’t exceeding Instagram’s maximum width of 1080 or maximum height of 1350, its compression algorithms should leave it untouched.
3) Tap the save arrow button to have the final Instagram-perfect resized image in your iPhone Camera Roll.
And that’s it, you now have the correct version of your original image in the Photos library conveniently sized down to a width of 1080 pixels. All that’s left to do at this point is fire up the mobile Instagram app on your iPhone and share the resized image.
Because the image now fits the required dimensions, no compression will take place.
Of course, nothing prevents a power user from using pro tools on their Mac or Windups PC, such as Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator, Affinity Photo, and so forth, for image resizing. Upon saving the sized-down version to the computer, you could quickly transfer the file to your iPhone via AirDrop, ready to be uploaded to Instagram.
Other guidelines to post images in high quality on Instagram
- Don’t use the Instagram camera to take pictures. Use your phone’s built-in Camera app.
- Don’t use filters or editing tools in the Instagram app. Edit your image beforehand and simply post it to Instagram.
- Use JPEG (JPG) instead of PNG or HEIF.
- Don’t add music to the image post on Instagram.
- Use the Instagram app on your smartphone to post the image instead of other tools.
If you’re the type of person who cares a lot about image quality or you manage a business account on Instagram, a little bit of planning will go a long way toward ensuring your Instagrams look their best rather than exhibit those ugly compression artifacts.
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