Why the web version of Instagram is better than the app

Bells and whistles aren't always a good thing.
Even your favorite accounts are friendlier on Instagram's web version. cottonbro / Pexels

Instagram used to be a simple platform—you could open it, scroll through a bunch of photos, maybe like some of them, and then you’d close it. 

But not anymore. 

What once was just a stream of your friends’ photos slowly became a collection of autoplaying videos, and advertised content, followed by an endless feed of algorithmically curated nonsense. Now Instagram is even trying to shoehorn a TikTok clone into the mix. 

This is because Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, has a passion for your eyeballs. The longer you spend scrolling and interacting—sharing, commenting, liking, watching a video to the end or, better yet, buying something directly from the platform—means more money for them. To get you to do this, they need to engage you, so apps that start as clean and simple, commonly get cluttered with more types of content, bright-red notification icons, and various widgets. All to trap your eyeballs for as long as possible. 

If you like Instagram’s new features, I’m not here to take them away from you. But if you, like me, find it all a bit exhausting, I come with a solution: the web version.

Instagram like it used to be

Most Instagram users probably only access the platform’s web version on their computer, but you can also open it on mobile devices. Just head to Instagram.com in your browser, sign in, and start scrolling. 

Your friends’ photos are all there, and you’ll soon notice Instagram’s algorithmic sorting hasn’t made it here yet, so you can scroll in reverse chronological order like in the good ol’ days. Even better—there are no ads or Suggested Posts on the web version of Instagram. Videos do not autoplay, but you can watch any of them by tapping the play button. You’ll just see photos, clips, and Stories from the people you follow and nothing else. 

[Related: The best hidden Instagram tricks]

Instagram also recently added the ability to upload photos and Stories from the web, which means you no longer need to install the app to have a fully functional account. 

But not everything is perfect. At times, scrolling on Instagram for the web can feel clunky, the way mobile interfaces that have been adapted for browsers often do. And, if you forgo the app completely, you won’t get any notifications. Some will see the latter as a plus, but others will understandably consider it a dealbreaker. 

Instagram for the web is the solution for iPad users

As hard as it is to believe, it’s 2022 and Instagram does not offer an iPad app. 

Instead, users can install the app for iOS. But that means using a tiny version of the app or zooming in. Because the aspect ratio on iPhones is different than that of iPads, the tablet automatically makes up for the width difference by adding black bars to the right and left of the screen. And because the device zooms in to fill the display, the photos look fuzzy. Considering the iPad’s large, hi-res display is there for a reason, it’s obvious that this is far from ideal. 

This is where the web version comes in to save the day. Instagram for the web is optimized for your browser of choice, so iPad users will be able to scroll through the platform while enjoying large, high-resolution images. It’s just a better way to scroll. 

How to add the Instagram web app to your home screen

Another downside to forgoing the Instagram app is that you don’t get that easy-to-access icon on your home screen. Luckily, there’s a workaround for that. On iOS or iPadOS, open Instagram on Safari and tap the Share button to the right of the address bar. Scroll down and tap Add to Home Screen. An icon with the Instagram logo will show up on your home screen. It looks just like the icon for the app, but tapping it opens the web version.

[Related: 11 essential widgets for your Android home screen]

On Android, open the website on Chrome, tap the three dot icon in the top-right corner of the browser, and tap Add to Home Screen. A prompt will ask you to name the direct access—it’ll say “Instagram” by default, but you can type whatever you want. To finish, tap Add, and if you have a Pixel, tap Add to Home Screen again on the next menu. This will add a distinct Instagram icon which you can move around and tap anytime to open Instagram’s website.