How to deactivate Instagram because the Likes don’t love you back

Whether you deactivate or delete Instagram, it could be good to take a break.
A person's hand holding an iPhone with the Instagram login screen visible.
If you deactivate Instagram, you can simply log in to recover it, but deletion is permanent. Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

To deactivate Instagram or delete it: that is the question. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably decided that it’s better to take action against the sea of troubles associated with the Meta-owned app and other social networks (like body dissatisfaction and unhealthy life comparisons) than it is to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous trolls. No more.

Both deactivation and deletion will remove your Instagram account from the public eye, but the choice you make will depend on whether you plan to come back to the ‘Gram at any point. The key difference between a deactivated account and a deleted one is that the latter is permanent. If you deactivate your Instagram, it won’t be visible to anyone, but you won’t lose anything. You can let it languish in virtual limbo forever, or recover and reactivate it at any time by simply logging in. Delete it, though, and Meta will erase everything—you won’t be able to get it back.

Consider downloading your Instagram data first

Before you start, we recommend downloading all your Instagram data. You don’t need to do this, but if you’re at all nostalgic for the time you spent on the app, you should stash a file full of your posts, comments, and everything else on a hard drive somewhere. Not interested? Cool—you can skip straight to our instructions on how to deactivate Instagram.

Download your Instagram data from the app

1. Tap your profile photo in the bottom right corner of the screen, then hit the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top right.

2. Touch Your activity to open up a categorized list of everything you’ve ever done on Instagram.

The Instagram app showing where to find "your activity" inside the settings menu.
Once you enter the settings, you can find your activity right here. Screenshot: Instagram

3. Scroll to the bottom of this list and tap Download your information.

4. Click Request a download on the next page. When the file is ready, Instagram will notify you and give you four days to download your information from the app.

Download your Instagram data from the web

1. We know the app is more easily accessible, but plenty of people prefer the web version of Instagram. If that’s you, click More in the bottom left corner of the screen, then hit Your activity.

[Related: Criticism pushed ‘Instagram Kids’ back to the drawing board]

2. Select Download your information, then enter the email address you want Instagram to send the file to.

The Instagram web interface showing how to download your data.
Navigating Instagram’s web interface might actually be a little easier than the app. Screenshot: Instagram

3. Choose the file format you want: HTML or JSON. The latter is a better option if you want to transfer all your Instagram data to another program or service.

4. Enter your Instagram password, then hit Request download.

How to deactivate Instagram, or permanently delete it

Whether you’re using a phone or a computer, the steps to delete or deactivate your Instagram account are essentially the same, but the first few are different enough to warrant separate instructions. When you’re done, maybe you’ll sleep—perchance, dream—a little easier. And then you can consider deleting Facebook when you wake up.

How to delete or deactivate Instagram from the Android or iPhone app

1. Tap your profile photo in the bottom right corner of the screen, then the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top right.

2. Choose Settings and privacy, then Accounts Center. These options should be easy to find, as they’re both right at the top of their respective lists.

3. From the Meta Accounts Center, tap Personal details > Account ownership and control > Deactivation or deletion.

The Instagram app showing where to find your personal details, to start the process of deactivating or deleting your Instagram account.
Step 3 starts here. Screenshot: Instagram

4. Pick your Instagram account from the list of Meta accounts.

5. Choose whether you want to delete or deactivate your Instagram account, then hit Continue and enter your Instagram password to finish the process.

How to delete or deactivate your Instagram account from the web

1. Click More in the bottom left corner, followed by Settings.

2. Find the Meta Accounts Center box, then click See more in Accounts Center.

The Instagram settings interface on the web, showing how to find the Meta Accounts Center to delete or deactivate your Instagram account.
Once you find the Meta Accounts Center, you can start the deactivation or deletion process. Screenshot: Instagram

3. Once in the Accounts Center, click Personal details > Account ownership and control > Deactivation or deletion.

4. Select your Instagram account from the list of Meta accounts that appears.

5. Pick whether you want to delete or deactivate your account, then hit Continue and enter your password to finish the job.