Instagram used to be a simple platform – you could open it, scroll through a bunch of photos, maybe like some of them, and then close it.
But not anymore.
What was once just a stream of photos of your friends slowly became a collection of autoplaying videos and advertised content, followed by an endless stream of algorithmically curated nonsense. Now Instagram is even trying to fit a TikTok clone into the mix.
That’s because Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, has a passion for your eyeballs. The more time 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 let you do that, they need to engage you, so apps that start clean and simple are usually cluttered with more types of content, bright red notification icons, and various widgets. Everything to trap your eyeballs for as long as possible.
If you love 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’ve come up with a solution: the web version.
Instagram like before
Most Instagram users probably only access the web version of the platform on their computer, but you can open it on mobile devices as well. Just head to Instagram.com in your browser, log in, and start scrolling.
Your friends’ photos are all there, and you’ll soon notice that Instagram’s algorithmic sorting hasn’t arrived here yet, so you can scroll in reverse chronological order like the good old days. Best of all, there are no ads or suggested posts on the web version of Instagram. Videos do not play automatically, but you can watch them by pressing the play button. You will only 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 download photos and stories from the web, meaning you no longer need to install the app to have a fully functional account.
But all is not perfect. Sometimes scrolling on Instagram for web can feel clunky, as browser-friendly mobile interfaces often do. And, if you completely forgo the app, you won’t get any notifications. Some will see the latter as a plus, but others will understandably see it as a dealbreaker.
Instagram for the web is the solution for iPad users
As difficult as it may seem, it’s 2022 and Instagram doesn’t have an iPad app.
Instead, users can install the app for iOS. But that means using a small version of the app or zooming in. Since iPhones have a different aspect ratio than iPads, the tablet automatically compensates for the difference in width by adding black bars to the right and left of the screen. And because the camera zooms in to fill the screen, photos look blurry. Considering the iPad’s large, high-res screen is there for a reason, it’s obviously less than 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 of foregoing the Instagram app is that you don’t get that easy-to-access icon on your home screen. Fortunately, there is a workaround for this. 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 appear on your home screen. It looks like the app icon, 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 dots icon in the top-right corner of the browser, then tap Add to home screen. A prompt will ask you to name the direct access – it will say “Instagram” by default, but you can type whatever you want. To finish, touch Addand if you have a Pixel, press Add to home screen again in the next menu. This will add a separate Instagram icon that you can drag and tap at any time to open the Instagram website.