Uploading To Instagram Without Losing Image Quality

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.

Thirdly, 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.

Here is a screenshot of the Save To Web window for my Bruce Lee post in Photoshop. I have highlighted the areas you need to monitor in order to reduce size and maintain image quality, such as the quality setting and dimensions of the image.

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.

If you really want to make the most of your post and get as much engagement as possible, then you’ll want to also check out this ultimate guide I wrote for using hashtags on Instagram.

Conclusion

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.

You can follow me on Instagram here!

Have any feedback or questions about this post? Let me know in the comments below!

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.
Did you find this post on improving the image quality of your Instagram posts helpful? If so, I would be very grateful if you could pin this image to Pinterest!

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Abraham

    Great post, I was asking myself how much it shrink quality of photos when I send image to myself over messenger then post it on Instagram. Then I read this article and used the Google Drive. I must say there is a bit more depth then sending over messenger. So yeah Google Drive works fine.

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Abraham, glad to see that it worked for you using Google Drive. That’s what I currently use! Posting straight from Creator Studio works well too of course.

  2. Lily Crocker

    Hi! Is there a way to do to this from a mobile device? I do not have photoshop on my computer and am not looking to pay for it. Any tips?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Lily, you should find that uploading a photo from your phone should work well regardless of which editing software that you’re using. Instagram is primarily a mobile-based app, so it’s only natural for the mobile uploads to be of good quality. There will always be some level of compression, given the sheer number of photos that Instagram’s servers have to store, but not enough to ruin a photo. Hope this helps šŸ™‚

    2. Wesley

      I’d recommend using Google’s Snapseed app or Adobe Photoshop Express. Both of them are free and let you customize the export settings of your photos to specific resolutions and quality.

      1. Mike Walters

        Great suggestions Wesley šŸ™‚

  3. Ollie

    Hi, have you tried this method with other tools such as powerpoint? The basics seem to be the same. I’ve tried to set the same hight width but when I export the image to jpeg and save, send to phone and finally transfer to instagram, instagram comprasses the image after a while. Any thoughts?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Ollie, I haven’t created carousels or posts using PowerPoint but the theory should be the same. There is always going to be a small bit of compression by Instagram when uploading to their platform, however, you can minimize this but uploading the image through the mobile app or via Instagram [Facebook] Creator Studio. Try uploading through one of those platforms and see how it goes

  4. Sophia

    Hi! My friend took some photos using her iPhone 7 plus and sent me the photos which I then I edited on my iPhone 11, and when I went to post the images to instagram, the photos came out blurry! What can I do to my photos to make sure they post at a better resolution because this photo was taken on an iPhone, not a DSLR so iā€™m confused as to how it would be blurry. Thank you!

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello Sophia, I guess it might depend on how your friend sent those photos to you. I know that in the past, I’d transferred some files over using Facebook Messenger and they lost some of the picture quality during that transfer. If you make sure to upload them to the Google Drive (or something similar) and then download them from there, you might find that the picture quality is a lot better – depending on how you upload it of course. Upload the picture via your mobile or Facebook/Instagram Creator Studio. Let me know how it goes šŸ™‚

  5. Antonia

    I use Canva to design my posts what would you suggest to save the quality?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Antonia. Luckily for you, there are many great content creators that use Canva to design their posts. I would suggest saving as JPG and uploading either directly from the Instagram mobile app or via Facebook/Instagram Creator Studio

  6. Mike Walters

    Haha! Well I can’t imagine it’s cheap to host billions of photos/videos šŸ˜…

    1. Harpua

      Mike – since you responded, are you really comfortable leaving this openly anti-semitic comment on your otherwise helpful post?

  7. Alfonso

    Artwork
    Fine lines: get dirty and/or slightly moved.
    Thick lines: flattened.
    Colors: mixed, simplified, exagerated or all of them.

    This causes young artists to look worse than they are just because Instagram can’t even give a F***g guide on how to use their site other than “tap here to upload”. How about giving a proper tutorial or creative tips instead of creating 100 filters every month? I swear with social media…

    1. Mike Walters

      Haha, I feel your pain Alfonso. It’s true that some people’s Instagram posts don’t do their work justice!

  8. Tony

    This is really helpful but i have a question, i was familiar with this workflow of reducing the resolution of your image manually, but this helped me to improve that workflow, that being said, after doing all that and make sure that my image looks correctly for web and hi-quality, when i post it on Instagram in getting a terrible Banding specially in the sky area, i have remove all banding before as i said looks perfect in all web applications, so seems that IG still compressing my file for some reason, do you have any idea about this? Thanks in Advanced

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Tony, thanks for reaching out. I too suffer from the same banding issues on Instagram. I believe that the platform just isn’t suited to such high-level photography. Which is ironic, given the premise of the platform. I’ve since tried to avoid gradients where possible. I’m sorry I can’t help much further!

  9. Sofia

    Hi! I use Canva on both my laptop and iPhone. After downloading images from the mobile app and uploading them to Instagram, they still experience lower quality and a slight change in color. Do you have more tips on this? Thanks!

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Sofia, I can’t really say without seeing the images but there will always be some form of compression when uploading to Instagram – no matter what you do. As for the colour difference, could it be that you’re viewing the image from a different device? I know that the colours between my iPhone, tablet and desktop all differ. Let me know!

  10. Laura

    Mike, thank you for this. It’s incredibly helpful info. I’ve been using this workflow, more or less, in Photoshop for the last couple of years, but have always noticed a drop in quality once I put my files on Instagram. Further, I’ve been interested in making stop motion videos and have noticed that, again, the drop in quality is evident in the final product whenever I try to upload to IG, with just enough blur showing that I haven’t yet posted any of these. I’m going to adjust my workflow and try the videos again. Bookmarked this article for reference.
    – Laura

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Laura, never tried uploading stop motion videos to Instagram myself but I look forward to hearing your results!

  11. ER

    What about bit depth? Doesn’t Instagram limit images to 8 bit jpgs?

    1. Mike Walters

      Unfortunately, I can’t find any confirmation from Instagram regarding the limitation of bit depths. I’m curious as to how you found this information?

  12. Annabelle Mostert

    Hi,

    Maybe this is a silly quetion, but i have created the file in photoshop to the size specification you set out above.
    How do i re-size my image ti fit instagram after making it (1080 x 1350px). I understand how to save for web but not how to re-size it.
    Thanks

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Annabelle, not a silly question at all. 1080x1350px is a great size for Instagram for portrait photos. If you are after a square image then you would need to change the Canvas Size in Photoshop before you Save For Web. You can change the Canvas size by going to Image > Canvas Size. There might be a link icon which is selected to lock the ratio (to 1080x1350px). You will need to unselect this to change it to 1:1 ratio.

  13. Eric

    What if you do all this and it’s still desaturated? I’ve exported in .jpg, sRGB color space, same dimensions you describe, and it’s still messed up. Just about every one of my pictures is from what I can tell. They look fine on my phone, on the computer, even in the screen on IG where I upload the picture. I make my posts ahead of time and save them, and even that little thumbnail looks fine. It’s just when it gets uploaded, it goes all wrong.

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Eric, that is a tough one and I understand your frustration. I would have to guess that it’s down to the size of the (image) file. Maybe try compressing it as much as possible, without reducing the quality of the image, and see how that fairs when uploaded to IG?

  14. Eric

    I’m not 100% but that might have worked. I posted one this morning that got desaturated again, tried exporting it from Lightroom with lower quality (I had it set to 100, now I’m around 75) and then posted that version. It looked to be a little more saturated than the previous one, so I think you’re on to something. Thank you!

    1. Mike Walters

      I’m glad that it helped a bit! Thanks for getting back to me Eric

      1. Eric

        Thank you for responding, that’s pretty rare anymore. Anyways they are still desaturating my pictures. I think what I did earlier might have helped a bit, but it’s still very noticeable. My export settings from Lightroom are: .jpg, sRGB, quality at 76, resize to fit checked, width set to 1080, height left blank, resolution 72, sharpen for screen, standard, the default settings for metadata, and then a watermark which is just my name in the bottom right corner, no image or anything like that. I don’t get it. I edit in Lightroom initially, export at 300 ppi and in AdobeRGB, open that file in Photoshop, make edits there, save a copy, import that into Lightroom so I can export with those settings. It’s a little convoluted but it works for me I guess. Any thoughts?

        1. Mike Walters

          No problem, happy to be one of the rare ones! I’m really not sure to be honest, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of things right. What are the sizes of the files that you’re trying to upload?

  15. Jalal Mustafa

    I was exporting PNGs from corel draw for instagram uploads and quality was decreasing. now i will use jpegs after seeing this article. also using 1200×1200 resolution. should i opt for 1080×1350.?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Jalal, 1080×1080 is perfectly fine for Instagram. The 1350 resolution is just the recommended size for portrait images.

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