January 2019

Since there seems to be no dedicated plug-in for Lightroom that enables you to export photos to Instagram, I've been using various suggestions and guides from other togs on YouTube and the like.

To be honest I'm not 100% convinced that what I am now working with as a result of advice is the best and most optimum way of doing this, but it kind of works, so I'm sharing it here.

Something a lot of blogs and vlogs leave out is the bit about how, if you are using a Mac and the Safari web browser, you can get your photos from within Finder to Lightroom quite easily. I'll show you how below.

DISCLAIMER: This is what I am using and I'm not claiming it is the 'best' way to export to Instagram, so if you have any other methods that work well for you, please hit  the 'Contact Me' button on this page to let me know. Thanks.

Essentially what you need to do is get most of the compression of the photo you are uploading out of the way BEFORE it hits Instagram and is subject to their complex scaling and compression routines, which can affect the quality of your photo.


But before you dive into actually exporting a photo, you'll need to change its crop to be 4 x 5, as this is the crop factor which will attract the least compression from Instagram and fit into the feed in a way where it has more visual impact and will be noticed.

The best way I find is to Create A Virtual Copy of the photo, and make the crop on that version, so your 'original' version remains untouched.

Simply go to the Crop tool in Lightroom, and elect 4 x 5/ 8 x 10 from the drop down.

You might need to re-center or re-jig your photo once done, to make sure the most eye-catching bit of the photo is in the right place.

Export settings

Now you can actually export the photo. 

This is my Instagram export pre-set in Lightroom, and essentially it is:

File settings: JPEG, quality 72

Image Sizing: Resize to fit Long Edge, 1080 pixels, resolution 300 ppi

And that's about it.

Now the fun bit... using Safari to upload to Instagram

So some people suggest with the photo exported on your desktop, now you can email it to yourself or use DropBox etc. so you can access the photo on your phone in order to upload it to instagram.

If you use Safari on macOS you can trick Instagram to thinking your desktop Safari is a mobile version, and upload the photos directly from your desktop on your Mac.

Developer mode

Firstly, if you've not already done so, activate 'Developer' mode in Safari. 

Go to Safari preferences and select the 'Advanced' tab. At the bottom of this tab is a checkbox for 'Develop menu'. Select this.

This now activates a new menu called 'Develop', which can be accessed from the menu bar.

Navigate to Instagram in a Safari tab or window, and then go to the Develop menu, and select User Agent --> Safari - iOS 11.3 -- iPhone.

Your Safari page with instagram on it will now present you with a mobile view.

Mobile view

As can be seen from the screenshot below, the Instagram page now offers most of the features you'd see on the mobile app, including the '+' button at the bottom of the page to add a photo to your feed.

Click on this with your mouse to instigate a photo upload.

You'll now be presented with a dialogue box so you can search your hard drive to locate the photo you want to upload.

Find and select the photo and click 'Choose'.

With your photo selected, there's one last thing to do before you commit it to Instagram.

You'll be presented with your selected photo in a grid view. Scroll down to the bottom left hand corner and look for the scale icon.

Clicking this will scale your photo to fit properly, and ensure all of your photo is shown, uncropped.

With this done, follow through the subsequent steps after clicking 'Next' in the top right hand corner, adding text to your photo etc., just as you would in the mobile app.

And that's it, job done.

If you have any comments around this, please get in touch using the 'Contact Me' button near this text.

Thanks for reading.


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