Posting to Instagram via Desktop

One of many mysteries of Instagram is why they won’t let you post photos from a desktop PC. I mean sure, it was originally an app, but it’s had a fully functional web version for years, with the one thing you’re not allowed to being posting photos.

This has led me to some wonderfully contrived workflows – take photo on camera, transfer to PC, process image, watermark, add to Dropbox, export image from phone’s Dropbox app to iOS Photos, then finally, post to Instagram. Simply maddening.

Luckily, there’s a workaround, and its easy. Instagram’s web app can post photos, but it hides the functionality when it detects a desktop PC. All you have to do to get it back is have your desktop browser masquerade as a phone or tablet by sending a synthetic User-Agent.

A really simple way of doing this on Mac OS is to use Safari, which lets you set a User-Agent out of the box with its developer tools. From the menu select DevelopUser Agent, and pick one the iPhone version of Safari 1:

Choosing a mobile `User-Agent`

Clicking one will automatically reload the page, and you’ll find that previously missing + button at the bottom. From there, select a file and follow the new photo process normally.

Posting from the desktop version of Safari

Knowing how simple the workaround is makes the product’s hole even more frustrating. The feature not only exists already, but it works perfectly fine, and the only reason it’s not available is that it’s deliberately hidden.

My guess is that Instagram thinks that by illuminating a happy path photo pipeline of only phone to Instagram, they’ll cut down on fake photos and abuse. Maybe there’s some truth to that, but as we’ve seen with programs like FaceApp, its plenty easy to generate fake content on smartphones too. They must also understand that their foremost content creators who are posting pixel-perfect and heavily post-processed photos of pristine Thai beaches or misty Swiss mountain ranges, are not doing so from their iPad.

1 It must be the iPhone version of Safari – Instagram restricts even iPads from posting photos.

October 17, 2020 (4 years ago) by Frey·ja