How to Upload to Instagram with Your Computer Using Lightroom
You’ve probably heard of Instagram. Acquired by Facebook in 2012 as it began to gain popularity, it has become one of the more popular social mediums to date. Five years later, and its increasing popularity has not lost any momentum. And today, while it was designed for mobile technology, businesses and professionals have taken to the desktop platform to increase their outreach to an expansive consumer database.
Due to this demand, many software developers have attempted to create methods for users to publish from the desktop. Unfortunately, Instagram continues to impose strict security polices, rendering the task almost impossible and the furthest it has gone to allowing users to use a desktop computer is only to create an account and manage image posts. Instagram has even gone so far as to block some user accounts that have used these alternate methods. For those companies that were successful at one point, there has been some difficulty maintaining functionality as Instagram constantly evolves.
This is because Instagram has strict rules about auto-posting to their platform and it is against API guidelines. While inconvenient, it makes sense if you understand why Instagram was created - as a means for people to take instant pictures from their mobile phones and upload them. Unfortunately, not every wants to do that. So, until Instagram catches up with users' needs and updated uses, we've found a few workarounds - and one we can vouch for ourselves.
Did you know: The name Instagram was comprised from the terms “instant camera” and “telegram” by Burbn when they decided to focus on mobile photography.
After much research and some testing, we found one sure way (at the time of this writing) to publish to Instagram from a computer – and it involves plugin using Lightroom. And, we’re hoping with Adobe’s reputation, the plugin will continue to maintain its functionality. (The plugin developer is by Capture Monkey, but we believe there may be less chance of the plugin getting blocked since it works through Lightroom with your login credentials instead of an API). Although, this tutorial is only useful if you already own a copy or subscribe to the software and we don’t
recommend acquiring it for the sole purpose of publishing to Instagram. (For more alternatives, see 10 Ways to Upload to Instagram Using Your Computer.)
Lightroom is a popular post-processing photo editing program by Adobe, one of the more popular choices amongst photographers. If you’re already using Lightroom, this is perhaps the most convenient way to post directly to Instagram without the involvement of a mobile device. This plugin lets you post directly to Instagram within Lightroom. What's more, it allows you to add hashtags as metadata, has an optional crop and padding feature, sharpening, watermarking, and gives you the ability to add and publish to multiple accounts - all within Lr.
Where to Get it
LR/Instagram plugin is free and you can download it here (www.lrinstagram.com). If you like it and find it useful, you can pay a $10 licensing fee. As it is a useful plugins which no doubt required much time and effort in developing and maintenance, we highly recommend paying the nominal fee – especially if will be used for commercial purposes. Keep in mind, though, it is freeware and not a trial.
The website hosts a video for installation, but you can refer to this article for additional installation support. We recommend following these steps to get the plugin up and running to publish in 5 minutes.
- 1. Download the file to a place where you can easily locate it. We recommend downloading it to your desktop.
- 2. Next, unzip the file and copy it into your hard drive. Select a location in your computer where you can store the plugin. (Note: This is where Lr will permanently store and access the plugin, so it is best to save the unzipped folder within the Lr folder location of the Lr version you are using. Make a note of this location, because you will need to access it to install the plugin.)
- 3. Open Lightroom. Go to File>Plug-in Manager. In the manager, click "Add".
- 4. Navigate to the folder location where the unzipped file is and click "Select Folder".
- 5. Next, scroll down on the left navigation window under "Publish Services" and select the Lr/Instagram plugin. Click "Set Up". Log in with your settings.
When finished, your setup should look something like this.
To remove, reinstall, or update the plugin, go to the location of the folder and delete the entire plugin folder. You can find and open the folder location by double-clicking the plugin, select "Plugin Manager", and then click the Lr/Instagram plugin. Follow the installation instructions to reinstall.
The settings are by default set to an upload limit of 5 images - this is the maximum setting you can publish at any one time - and removing photos from the queue without deleting them from Instagram. (We're almost certain the 5 max limit is to prevent an Instagram API violation). If you uncheck this option, when you delete photos in the queue, it will also permanently delete them from Instagram. We recommend leaving this option checked (selected). This way, if for any reason you decide to republish the image, you will have the option of doing this later from the thumbnail manager. In the beginning, you may want to experiment with each setting until you find the one you are most comfortable using. Keep in mind that you can change the settings at any time simply by double-clicking the Lr/Instagram plugin under "Publish Services".
Publish to Instagram
If you are familiar with Lightroom and already have an image folder set up, you can proceed to the next step. For better organization, we created a dedicated folder for Instagram to easily locate and retrieve all images specific for that medium. In the following example we will use this dedicated folder, however you can use any folder location to achieve similar results.
Let's get started.
- 1. First, select the folder or images you want to publish. Import them into your catalog, if needed.
- 2. Now, for each image, add a caption and/or hashtags under the tab labeled "Metadata". This depends on settings you have selected in your panel. (Note that the site states that hashtags do not work; however, we tested it and were able to successfully publish working hashtags. If it does not work, you may need to go to the site and install the latest update).
- 3. Next, select the images you want to publish, then drag and drop them into the LR/Instagram plugin. Remember, you can only publish the number specified in your settings (5 maximum).
After clicking "Publish", a progress bar will appear above the navigation preview image to indicate the status.
When finished, to preview the image, right click on the thumbnail and select "Show in Instagram". Your image will look something like below. As you can see, the hashtags converted successfully during the upload.
How to Remove an Image from Instagram
Within the same session, if you make a mistake and need to republish, you can delete an image from Instagram with the plugin by right-clicking on the image thumbnail and selecting "Remove from Collection". Click "Publish".
Important note: The settings within the plugin must be appropriately set to permanently delete an image. Otherwise, it will only remove the image from Lightroom's publish tab. To change in settings, double-click the plugin and ensure "When removing photos, do not delete from Instagram" is unchecked.
Publishing Select Photos
In some cases, there may be a time when you have many images, but only want a specific set or selection of photos you want to publish. This can be done easily with the plugin, as well. Simply choose the image you want to publish by clicking on the thumbnails of the images you want (hold CTRL/CMD+click to select images individually), then drag-and-drop them onto the plug-in button. Make sure the number count coincides with the number of images you want to publish. Click "Publish".
This covers most functionality of the plugin. Unfortunately, there is not an option to schedule posts or upload at intervals. And while the plugin does contain a force crop setting, we found that it applies a visually unappealing gray border to one side of the image. The border and pad option works as described; however, it will reduce the size of the image dimensions in order to do this. It still looks good, but why not make use of all the real estate Instagram has to offer? While we found this one to be the most useful plugin for a computer, there are other alternatives.
While the Lr/Instagram plugin we described worked for us, it may not be suitable for you. If you don't have Lightroom, you can obtain a subscription for a small fee - though we're not recommending it to solely upload images from Instagram. There are more options available.
What We Learned
LR/Instagram plugin for Lightroom is a fully functioning plugin – and easy to use if you’re already familiar with Lightroom. Perhaps, best of all – it’s free. While there may be a bit of room for improvement, it is by far the best alternative for publishing from a personal computer that we found due to its ease of use and probability of maintaining functionality. •••Follow