Something I noticed when posting to Instagram from my desktop was that the image quality was significantly worse than the version I had uploaded, with the blurred image inevitably getting less than favourable engagement. After some thorough research though, I’ve managed to compile some answers reasons as to why Instagram might be reducing the image quality on your posts.
There are a few reasons why the image quality is reduced when uploading directly from your PC, one of which is that you are not following Instagram’s max resolution guidelines, which is currently set at 1080 x 1350px. Any image that is greater than the said resolution will be made smaller by Instagram and thus may affect the quality of the image.
Secondly, it also depends on the format of the image that you are using. Instagram’s default format for images is JPEG (.jpg), meaning that any image that is uploaded in PNG (.png), BITMAP (.bmp), or anything other than JPEG, will be converted to JPEG and as such loses some of the quality during the conversion.
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When you consider the number of images that are being uploaded to Instagram every single day and the server power that is needed to run the platform, you’ll soon forgive Instagram for reducing file sizes where possible. Try to keep your image file size to a minimum (without affecting image quality) to avoid having it be poorly compressed by Instagram.
Last but not least, Instagram is predominantly a mobile-based app, and as such prioritises uploads from mobile (or tablet) devices when it comes to quality. This means that images uploaded via your desktop, such as with the developer tools method, can sometimes see a reduction in image quality when uploading to Instagram.
How to avoid losing Image Quality on Instagram (with Photoshop)
For many people, who take pictures of themselves, their dog or the local beach, image quality doesn’t really tend to matter. However, if you’re a creative like me who designs content for their business and wants to establish themselves as a professional, then maintaining quality with your uploads is very important.
I like to create my Instagram content using Photoshop, but the same principles will apply to whichever photo editing software you are using. In Photoshop you will want to set up a new file or artboard and set it to Instagram’s maximum resolution (1080 x 1350px). Once you have created your design, you need to go to File > Export > Save For Web (Legacy)…
For those that don’t know, saving in this way will allow you to alter the quality and file size of your final image. In the top right of the Save For Web window, under Preset, you will want to select JPEG as the file type. Below that, you can change the overall quality of the image, starting from Low all the way up to Maximum.
Again, the reason for lowering the quality on the dropdown is to reduce the file size of the image and thus avoid Instagram taking the compression into their own hands. You can monitor the size of the image in the bottom left (above example: 837.8K).
A lot of the time, you will actually find that the Very High or High setting reduces the file size significantly; without actually affecting the sharpness of the image itself. You will want to choose the setting that achieves the best balance between the two.
Once you’re happy with the image file size and quality, you can hit the save button to save it to your computer. Following that, you will want to upload your new image to Google Drive where you will then download it to your mobile (or tablet) device. You can then upload the image directly to Instagram from your mobile.
Instagram can often reduce the quality of your images during uploads for a wide number of reasons, but if you’re looking to maintain quality then you should look to upload a high-quality, compressed JPEG file (max resolution: 1080 x 1350px) directly from your mobile or tablet to avoid any further compression by Instagram.
Have any feedback or questions about this post? Let me know in the comments below!