Thanks to Instagram's incessant commitment to regularly changing various features on the photo-sharing app, it's more than understandable that you may not know the current image specifications for the platform. After a quick Google search brought up a host of conflicting answers, I decided to do some tests of my own and create several free Photoshop templates to make all our lives much easier.
Most of you reading this will probably have a much more curated Instagram feed than your non-photographic friends and family. I personally use my own Instagram account more like a second portfolio, and for that reason, everything goes through Photoshop first. Being one of these people who doesn't post too excessively, I have always resorted to manually creating upload-friendly files by hand. Although it doesn't take too long to do, the whole process still feels like a chore. For years I have been meaning to make some templates to help automate my workflow, and now I can finally say that I have got around to doing it.
Here are the image specifications you should be using for Instagram in 2018.
1. Instagram Profile Pictures
If you've had the same profile picture on the app for a few years, it might be worth checking that the version you last uploaded is a decent resolution. It may look fine on your mobile device, but remember that some people may be looking at your profile on something like a high-resolution monitor. Contrary to what you will read on many other websites, the numbers you should be using for your profile picture are 320 px by 320 px. By all means, upload bigger images if you want, but Instagram automatically compresses and resizes them down to the aforementioned numbers to store online.
As with many other social media platforms, Instagram profile pictures are now circular on both the mobile app and the web browser. You don't need to worry about creating a circular image, as Instagram will take your square picture and display a round frame over it. If, as with Fstoppers' Instagram account, you use a logo on your Instagram page, make sure the design is perfectly centered in the middle of your 320 px by 320 px canvas.
Trying to guess if your square image will look good in a circular frame can be a bit hit-and-miss or at the very least rather time-consuming when using trial and error on the app. It's for this reason that I decided to make a profile template to take the guesswork out of it.
This template is included in the free download pack at the bottom of the article. All you need to do is place your picture below the circular image mask layer to get an idea of how it will look. After using this template, I realized that my own profile picture would actually look better if it was nudged up just slightly. This is something I would have never been able to accurately achieve while in the app.
2. The Square Image Post
The original square format is still, by far, the favorite aspect ratio on Instagram. The resolution you should be using in 2018 to maximize quality is 1,080 px by 1,080 px. Just as with all the other images on the social network, Instagram will resize and store an image at this maximum dimension. Although the app will allow you to upload much larger files, you really are just wasting your data, as Instagram will still shrink it down to 1,080 px by 1,080 px.
3. Horizontal Image Posts
Thankfully, last year the app started to allow users to post images which were not just square, theoretically putting an end to all those ugly letterboxes. The rule you need to keep in mind for horizontal posts is that Instagram will resize your image down to a width of 1,080 px. This means that when resizing your work in Photoshop, make sure the "constrain aspect ratio" link is checked while in the image size dialogue box, and then change the width to 1,080 px. The software will then automatically change the height dimension proportionally.
Because the hight of a horizontal image can vary on the app, I've included just one example of 1,080 px by 607 px in the download pack. If your image doesn't quite fit, you may just need to apply some cropping to the shortest side.
4. Vertical Image Posts
Images which are currently uploaded in portrait orientation are resized and stored on Instagram's servers at a maximum size of 1,080 px by 1,350 px. If you try to use a picture which is much longer than this aspect ratio, you'll find the app will just chop off the bottom half of the picture. If you don't want to lose any details, stick to the dimensions mentioned above.
5. Instagram Story Images
You have to give it to Instagram in that they are consistently inconsistent when it comes to image specifications. Because this particular feature covers the whole area of the phone's screen, its dimensions are dependent on the various devices it is being viewed on. After consulting the help pages on Facebook, the consensus seems to be that a 16:9 ratio is what is recommended. In terms of pixels, this would be 1,080 px by 1,920 px. I have done several tests on my iPhone, and those dimensions do work really well.
One thing I want to strongly remind people about is the placement of text near the top or bottom of these kinds of posts. Instagram adds overlays and buttons on top of your story, and there's nothing worse than seeing a great picture being spoiled because these things were not taken into account. For this reason, the story template I have included in the download pack has a layer which will help you to visualize how they will look in the app.
For those in a hurry, above are all the dimensions you need to ensure your pictures look their best. If anything changes in the coming year, I will be sure to add an update to this page. I hope the templates that I have created are of use to you and help speed up your workflow when it comes to creating work ready for uploading to the social network.
You can download the Photoshop template pack by following this link. If you have any questions, please leave me a message in the comments below.