Best quality photo export for Instagram


Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing and social networking platform. Most noteworthy, it enables its users to share pictures and videos with other users and on a variety of social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, the mobile app allows you to add a bunch of retro filters and effects.

Best quality photo export for instagram

Photos used to be confined to a square shape, similar to the old Polaroid pictures. Instagram finally updated it’s Android and iOS apps to enable native support for full-size landscape and portrait photos a few years back.

How to upload landscape or portrait photos?

Images have to be within a 4:5 to 1.91:1 aspect ratio range. Which is pretty cool considering the fact that it used to be square only a few years back.

What does this mean? If you take an image using the ‘Square’ option on your phone, that is a 1:1 image ratio. There is a format button above the camera roll when you access your photos from within Instagram. You can toggle this switch between square and full-size images.

Again remember that resolution should be above 150×150 and below maximum 1920 in order to show up sharp and clear on Instagram. This to keep up with Retina and other high-resolution displays available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. If it’s smaller or larger, they will scale your image up or down to size, be warned!

How to export your high-quality images for Instagram

These new features are great news for any pro photographer. But you need to be careful that Instagram compression doesn’t ruin your pictures because their compression algorithm will kick in when your image size exceeds 1.6MB and 1920px. Be careful not to upload too large files.

Adobe Lightroom

In Adobe Lightroom, it’s easy to export your images as Jpeg via the “Export to” function.

First of all, file Settings should be set to JPEG and sRGB. (PNG works too by the way, but it’s format less used for photos) If you’re not using a compression plug-in, I would also advise you to set Quality to 50.

Best quality photo export for instagram

Now you’ll need to resize your image to fit in the 1920×1080 resolution limits set by Instagram. This resizing is done in the Image Sizing box. Set both Width and Height to 1080 pixels per inch. If you want to use any other format than 1:1, set the Image sizing to Long Side (drop down menu) 1920.

It’s a good idea to limit the file size to 1600 kb in the file settings window. It will ensure that the rather aggressive Instagram compression algorithm will never touch your image. You should check your export first and see if it looks OK when zoomed in 100%.

Remember that most people will be viewing your image on a smartphone or tablet. There is no need for your image to look tack sharp on an HD, 4K or 5K monitor. If you don’t understand this principle, you can check this yourself. Open one of your exported images and then select ‘fit to screen’. You’ll notice an apparent decrease in sharpness. This will never be an issue here on a smartphone or tablet. Your exported image has the correct resolution for those screens.

Lightroom export will fit your image inside these constraints, whatever the width and height of your image are.

Best quality photo export for instagram

Expert tip: I use a plug-in called JPEGmini that automatically compresses my images to a maximum without quality loss. Most noteworthy, it reduces the image size by up to 80% without compromising quality. There is also a standalone app available. It will automatically optimize your images. You can also do this online for free!

On your smartphone, there are a few apps that do this too. Have a look at Jpeg Optimizer Pro for Android or Photo Compress for iOS.

Adobe Photoshop

In Adobe Photoshop, First of all, you need to go to File – Export – Export as.

best Photoshop instagram settings

The same principles apply here. The format should be JPG, image size (long end) should be 1920 px. Resolution does not really matter, I always go for 72dpi. Finally, resample with Bicubic automatic and select ‘convert to ‘sRGB’. You can play around with the ‘Quality’ setting. I would say don’t go above 80% for Instagram.

With the preview app (free) on OSX

OS X Preview can resize your images (even in batch) most noticeably without investing in special RAW developing software.

OSX preview image resize

First of all, go to the Tools tab and select adjust size.

size settings instagram

In that tab, make sure that the longest side of your image is set to 1920 pixels. Resolution is not really important.

OSX preview image resize Instagram

First go to file: “export as”. Export at around 80%.

To perform a batch resize, you can either open Preview from the Dock and File > Open your images. Consequently, all of your images should open in Preview’s left sidebar.

Finally, select all the images by clicking on the Edit menu. Select All, you’ll see that all your images are highlighted. 

Now follow step 2 and 3 to get all your images Instagram ready!

With Microsoft Windows

There is a good and free app for Windows users. It’s called Image Resizer For Windows.

First, install it. Right-click on one or more selected picture files in File Explorer. Now select Resize pictures.

use Image Resizer For Windows Instagram

Finally select the Custom Size to fit 1025 px long side and click the Resize button. 

On an Android device

Yes, even with a smartphone camera your images can suffer from the dreaded Instagram compression.

There is an excellent app on the Google Play store called Photo Resizer.

It allows you to choose a 1024×768 resize mode and you can also resize from other photo apps via the share option.

Your exported images are by default saved in the “/photoresizer” folder of your internal storage

On an iPhone

Image size iphone for Instagram

There is an app on iTune called Image Size. You can use it on ipad and Iphone and it’s free!

You can resize your image in four easy steps:

– First of all, open an image or take a photo

– Enter 1920 pixel as your max dimension long side of your image. 

– Finally, the save button will overwrite the original image.

Squoosh does it for free and in any browser and any device

Google has recently also launched their free compression software called squoosh which enables you to resize (max 1920×1080 for instagram) as well as compress using different compression models! Except for resizing, I would leave everything to the standard settings. Squoosh also works on your phone browser, so it’s ideal if you want to prepare your phone pictures for instagram.

Squoosh image resize example

In my testing, squash managed reduce the size of (even already compressed) images by between 50% and 70% without any visible loss in quality. Since it’s free, I would definitely recommend this Squoosh if you need to compress and resize your images in order to evade the dreaded Instagram loss in sharpness phenomenon after upload.

You need a micro landing page

Instagram currently limits the links on your profile to exactly…1. For influencers or anyone who wants to promote their skills this is not enough of course. If you have this problem, have a look at Shorby.

example of landing page

Shorby makes a clickable link for you, this leads to a customisable microlanding page like this one on my profile with any info you want.

How to edit Instagram posts

  •  Changing a photo after posting on instagram is unfortunately not possible at the moment. The only way to do this is to delete the entire post and start over again.
  • Changing filters after posting on Instagram is not possible either unfortunately since the picture is ‘processed’ with the chosen filter and the original is not stored on Instagram.

Adding text later on to an Instagram post is possible:

  1. click on the  “…” icon of the photo (or video)
  2. choose “Edit” to open the text editing window.
  3. edit the Instagram photo text, add new info or delete words.
  4.  tap on the “Done” button to confirm the changes.

Legal Instagram automation and auto posting

If you’re looking for a way to plan and automatically post on Instagram, have a look at StoryChief. They have an interesting free plan and a user friendly interface. For most of these apps, if you want to use the auto post feature, you will need to switch your instagram to a pro account. This will also give you the benefit of extra stats of visitors, likes and comments.

Tip: Auto enhance your images for even better quality

There is an excellent way to auto enhance any photo using a desktop computer application called Photolemur. Photolemur 3 is an automatic photo enhancer that uses Artificial Intelligence to enhance your pictures, be it RAW files or jpegs.

instagram photo settings

You can use it directly by drag and dropping images onto the interface directly or from applications such as Windows Photos, or both Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. You can get 30% discount with the promo code “WIMARYSPHOTOGRAPHY” here.


We all know you need to optimize your images for upload to Instagram. On Mac or Windows, we can use Lightroom and Photoshop. If you don’t want to spend any money you can use Preview on Mac and you can use the free app Image Resizer on Windows. If you’re on a tablet or smartphone, the app store has a few free applications available.

It’s important to keep image dimensions at a max op 1920 px because this is the largest size that Instagram will allow without compression. In addition, keep your file as small as possible by setting quality to 80%.

Finally, you can use image compression software like JPEGmini because this can reduce the image size up to 80%. There are some alternatives that are just as effective like Squoosh (drag and drop or upload with any browser, any device)  Tinyjpg and Imageoptim.

Finally, I’m on Instagram too: wim_arys_photography. Talk to me and follow me if you like, I’ll definitely follow back.

Wim Arys photography instagram name tag

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