With more than 2 billion monthly users, Instagram is undeniably one of the top social media platforms. It was created for and still mostly exists as a mobile app. But that doesn’t mean you can’t access Instagram on your computer, whether it’s a PC or Mac.
But before you start searching your app store, it’s important to note that there are various ways to get Instagram on a PC. There’s the desktop app and the online version for PC users, each with similar functionalities. The Mac version is mobile-only, leaving you with only the website as an option. In the App Store, you'll be told that the Instagram app is only available for iPhone.
The good news is, you likely have everything you need to view your Instagram feed on your desktop, whether you use a PC or Mac. Simply open your favorite web browser and go to Instagram.com. But if you visit Instagram often, the desktop app might be a better option for PC users, and there’s a better desktop option for both PC and Mac.
Here’s what you need to know about the updated desktop capabilities for Instagram, as well as what you should know about its limitations.
Why Install Instagram on Your Desktop
You probably think of Instagram as a mobile app. In fact, when it was first released in 2010, it was exclusive to Apple’s mobile operating system. Android users couldn’t even join in on the fun until 2012, when a version for those mobile devices launched.
Instagram makes sense as a mobile app. You can snap photos and upload them with minimal extra effort. Chances are, you aren’t taking photos with your desktop or laptop computer. But even Instagram recognized that desktop users wanted access, too.
Instagram is still primarily a mobile app, but you’ve long been able to get to it by opening a web browser and typing in Instagram.com. There, you’ll be able to scroll your feed, follow other users, and comment. Until recently, you could not post photos or videos from your desktop. You had to use your mobile device for that functionality.
As of late last year, though, that’s changed. Instagram finally rolled out an update that lets you post photos and videos of up to one minute in length to your feed. When you go to the web version of Instagram now, you’ll see a Plus sign on the upper-right side of your screen. Click on that and drag your photos or videos over to share them.
The desktop version of Instagram is especially beneficial to business users who need to manage multiple feeds throughout the day. Instead of having to grab a mobile device to add content, you can do everything from your desktop. Content managers may find this easier to handle since they can work while looking at their editorial calendars and Trello boards.
The Problem with the Instagram Desktop App
The biggest problem with the Instagram desktop app might just very well be that Mac users can’t download it. But the online version is easy enough to use, as long as you know how to find it.
What if you manage more than one account? Instagram lets each user have up to five accounts, which comes in handy if you run a business or manage marketing operations for multiple clients. But keeping track of those multiple accounts can be tricky. On the mobile app, you probably already know that you have to switch accounts to move between them.
As with the mobile app, you can easily move between accounts on the desktop by clicking on your profile picture in the upper-right corner. Simply click on the account you want to switch to, and switch back when you’re finished. This works fine unless you’re trying to drag the same photos or videos into multiple accounts. At that point, all that toggling between accounts can be cumbersome.
The good news is, the one issue that was once the biggest downside of the web version has been fixed. You can now easily post photos and videos to your Instagram feed directly from your desktop. This provides a bigger incentive than ever to use a desktop version.
Related Post: How to Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts on Desktop
How to Get Instagram on Your PC
If you own a PC, you have options. You can download the Instagram app by going to the Microsoft Store and typing Instagram into the search box. Click Get and, once installed, click Launch to open it. If you’d prefer not to download the app, you can simply go to Instagram.com in your web browser. You can even set it as a bookmark and have it in your bookmarks toolbar in Google Chrome. This means you can always get to it with a click.
Another option is to set the website up as a shortcut. Google Chrome makes this easy. When you’re on Instagram, click the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner. Choose Tools-More tools-Create shortcut. Name your shortcut, and you’re done. You can then right-click on the shortcut and choose Pin to taskbar if you want it docked at the bottom where you can easily get to it.
But all of these options come with one simple problem. If you manage multiple Instagram accounts, toggling back and forth takes time and extra effort. For that, Shift can be a far better option. Thanks to the Shift + Instagram integration, you can set up separate icons for each of your Instagram accounts and keep them all logged in at the same time. You can also set up icons for each of your logins on your other favorite apps to operate alongside your Instagram logins.
Whether you’re managing content for multiple clients or you’re merely trying to operate personal and business accounts together, Shift can make it easier. You can quickly upload content to each account or check your notifications with just one click. This not only speeds things up, but it also can reduce confusion and possibly help keep you from making mistakes.
How to Get Instagram on Your Mac
There may not be a desktop app for Mac, but you can still take advantage of Shift’s solution. Shift is available for both Windows and Mac and lets you set up an icon for Instagram, along with your other favorite apps. This is likely the best option if you have more than one Instagram account since you can move between them easily.
Another option is to use the web version of Instagram. You can even set up a shortcut to make it easy to get to as needed throughout the day. For Chrome, follow these steps:
- Click on the vertical dots in the upper-right corner of your browser
- Choose More tools and Create shortcut
- Name your shortcut
- Your new shortcut will save into a Chrome Apps folder, at which point you can drag it to your desktop or to your dock at the bottom of the screen
If Safari is your Mac browser of choice, follow these steps to save Instagram as a desktop shortcut:
- Highlight the Instagram.com URL
- Shrink your browser window slightly until part of your desktop is visible
- Drag the highlighted URL to your desktop
One final option that some Mac users find worthwhile is to install an Android emulator on your Mac. You can then interact with Instagram as you would on an Android device. If you have other Android apps you want to access this way, it could be a solution. Otherwise, Shift is likely a better option that makes life easier across all your most-used apps.
Managing Instagram Notifications on Desktop
What if you want a desktop alert every time there’s activity on your Instagram account? On your mobile devices, you can manage your settings, and the same applies to your PC, as long as you’ve downloaded the app. Simply go to Start-Settings-System and select Notifications to expand it. You’ll then find Instagram on the list. Toggle to turn notifications on or off.
But Mac users, or PC users who prefer to use the web version of Instagram, are stuck with notifications in the app only. This isn’t much help if you don’t hang out on Instagram all day. Fortunately, Chrome has a feature that will notify you of new activities on websites you choose, based on your preferences. To manage your Chrome notifications:
- Click on the vertical dots and go to Settings
- Click on the icon in the upper-left corner and choose Security and privacy-Site settings-Notifications
- Scroll down to Instagram on the list
- Click on the vertical dots next to Instagram and choose Allow
- If you want to stop notifications, come back to this list, scroll down to Instagram, and right-click on the vertical dots to choose Remove
If you opted for Shift to manage your Instagram desktop accounts, notifications are much easier. In fact, you can manage alerts for all your favorite apps in one place. Best of all, Shift gives you control over three types of alerts for all your connected apps:
- Badges: These are the numbers you see next to your icons when you’re in an app like Instagram. You’ll also see these badges on the Shift icon when you’ve docked it or set it as a shortcut.
- Desktop notifications: This refers to the small boxes that pop up on your screen to alert you that you have new activity on one of your accounts.
- Notification sounds: You’ll need to allow this on your device, too, but these audible alerts can help if you don’t happen to be looking at your screen when an alert comes through.
You manage these notifications by clicking on Options in the bottom-right corner of your Shift desktop. Then choose Settings-Apps-Installed Apps to manage badges and sounds. To change desktop notifications, go to Options-Settings-General-Functionality. With the latter, you can easily turn all notifications off or on with one click.
Related Post: How to Combine All of Your Messaging Apps in One Place
Instagram for Desktop Fact and Fiction
Q: Can I schedule my Instagram posts in advance?
A: Fact and fiction. Instagram doesn’t have this feature built in, but there are third-party apps that will let you prepare posts in advance and have them deploy at a predetermined time. Later and SocialBee can both help you schedule posts for Instagram, as well as other social media platforms.
Q: Can I rely solely on the desktop app for all my Instagram activities?
A: Fiction. Chances are, you’ll still find the mobile app easier to use. The web version also still has limited photo-editing capabilities. You can zoom in and out on the photo, but you won’t have the filters and cropping features you get with your mobile device.
Q: Can people see where I live by my Instagram posts?
A: Fiction. While Instagram can tag your location in your posts, this feature is off by default. You can easily turn it on, but it isn’t recommended.
Q: Will Instagram penalize me for posting too often or using the same hashtags?
A: Fiction. Instagram has debunked the shadowbanning theory that’s been bouncing around for a while. The platform doesn’t hide posts from users who post too often or use the same hashtags, so post away.
Q: Does Instagram hide business posts?
Fiction: A rumor has long circulated among professional users that Instagram hides marketing posts to encourage businesses to pay for ads. This came about soon after Instagram switched from showing all of the latest posts in chronological order. The new order seemed random, but there’s a reason for the switch. Instagram shows users posts based on their interests. This comes from previous interactions on the platform. That means if your followers haven’t previously interacted with your posts, or posts similar to yours, they likely won’t see yours, either.
Manage Your Desktop Instagram Account with Ease
While you likely always have your smartphone handy, being able to interact with Instagram on your desktop can save time. Although the Instagram desktop app and website have more functionality than before, Shift is the easiest way to run Instagram, especially if you have more than one account. Visit Shift’s integrations page to take a look at all the apps you can use with Shift and download the app for free.