How to Use Instagram

I was instagram-challenged for a while, having no clue what else it did besides take cool pics, so I thought I’d share what I learned with you, in case I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know all you can do with it.

For a while, I had noticed pics shared on Twitter that said “via instagram” or had a link to a pic that started out with “” and when I’d click on them, I’d see a pic and then “so-and-so is using Instagram – a fun & quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo, then choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot into a memory to keep around forever.”

I thought it was pretty cool and then I learned that it was an iPhone app. So, I pouted because I didn’t have an iPhone.

And then I got one this spring. Instagram was one of the first apps that I added to it. And I started taking pics with it. Some I shared on twitter, some I didn’t. It was really easy to use. Simply press the share button and either take a pic right then or select one from your camera roll:

The face my youngest loves to make when a camera is pointed at him. 

Then select a filter:

I choose Lomo-fi for this one. 

Then you can write a caption and choose how/if to share. There are options to connect your twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr, posterous, and foursquare accounts. I only have my twitter connected to mine for the time being and don’t share every photo I take on twitter.

It was great because it made my photos look like… well, like they weren’t taken on a phone.

So, that alone makes it a cool app. But, there’s so much more to Instagram than just taking pics!

I noticed that I was sometimes getting people who “liked” my photos or left comments, but I really didn’t know how they were doing that.

And then I checked my “news” tab. It will tell you when someone liked your photo, commented on it, or if someone new started following you or if one of your contacts joined instagram. And I realized, huh, I’m missing out, this isn’t just about me taking a pic.

You can search for people to follow. Go to “profile” and then “find friends” or “invite friends.” You can find friends from your contact list, facebook friends, twitter friends, or you can search names and usernames. And then simply choose to follow who you would like to. My username on there is “shellthings” in case you want to follow me. And now that I know how to see who is following me, I’ll follow you back. 😉

So, I started following people on there and checking out their photos by clicking on “feed.” You can see others’ photos and click on the heart to like them or you can leave a comment. At first I thought that it was yet another thing to have to keep up with… as if emails, blogs, twitter, and facebook aren’t enough… but I LOVE instagram.

It’s so quick to scroll through and see what your friends have been doing or to share what you are up to… no reading required. 😉

And don’t worry, you can play around with your profile settings to determine what you want to share and how you want to share it. Some people have their photos set to private so that only those they approve can see their photos.

Right now, it is just an iPhone app, but they are working on one for the Droid. It’s also free, so if you have an iPhone, be sure to check it out!


  1. Lady Jennie says

    I didn't know it could do all that. I have an iphone so I'll have to download this app. I hope I don't get intimidated (like I do with all new tech).

  2. Evonne says

    Instagram pics are really cool, but I always feel left out. I don't have an iPhone.

    I'm glad they're making an app for Droid. I checked out the Droid equivalent and I wasn't too impressed.

  3. MamaCole says

    Thanks, I was sadly unaware of this awesomeness, no more, my friend, no more! Off to the app store:)

  4. Samantha says

    I LOVE instagram! Didn't know about all of the following stuff though, but now I do! Thanks for this :)

  5. Natalie says

    Thanks for sharing! I still don't have a smartphone (I know the last person on the planet) but when I do I'll definitely use it! I've seen a lot of people use instagram, and I always love the pics!

  6. Stephanie says

    @ Natalie, you are not alone, I also have no smartphone :(

    Instagram is the one reason I am still considering an iPhone but I really want a Droid so if they do come out with it for Droid I will be so excited!

  7. Grumpy Grateful Mom says

    That instagram app looks fun! I definitively need an Iphone! My husband offered to get me one about a year ago when he got one and I said, "No thanks!" What was a thinking?

  8. Barbara says

    Seriously? I thought it was only about taking pictures making them look cute and posting them on facebook. I have so much to learn!

  9. Heidi says

    Ah, it's for an iphone. That explains why I had no idea what it was. I'm still in the dark ages with a phone that just makes calls and takes pictures.

  10. Rach (DonutsMama) says

    Yeah, I still have a Droid and I'm hoping they'll come out with an app for that b/c I don't see us getting an iPhone anytime soon.

  11. Kir says

    I don't have an Iphone..but my camera on my Evo Shift is so much more exciting thank my palm was and then it was "upgraded" and now I have all the same kinds of things that I can do with pictures that you can do. I love being able to make them look "vintage" or "cool" or "glitter" and then upload to FB or Tweetcaster right there. It sounds like it's a lot like I what I have. Which I just love.

    I don't see an iPhone in my future, but at least I have gadgets too. 😉

  12. K Pugliano says

    This is my ALL TIME favorite app!! LOVE it! :)

    Did you know that if you double tap a pic, it will also "like" it?

    My only ? is how do folks get the little pictures on there? Like the thumbs up, or hearts??

  13. Desperate Housemommy says

    Where the frack do you find the time to figure this stuff out? I'm going to have to set aside a week, at the least, to familiarize myself. And that's WITH your fab tutorial. Very cool, though.

  14. Courtney K. says

    InstaGram is my absolute FAVORITE app. I still have no clue how to add the little thumbs up, etc. things that I see here and there, but oh well. :)

  15. Julie says

    Okay thank you for this.


    I finally got an iPhone AND Instagram was the one and only app I've downloaded so far.

    But I still don't know how to use it.

    So now I'm going to go get my phone and go back through your post.

    Wish me luck…

  16. Carolyn says

    Awesome tutorial. I wondered about what Instagram! Now I have to wait for the Android app.
    Thanks again!

  17. Lizbeth says

    Ok, I have to tell you the COOLEST thing is the faces your kiddo is making! Second, thanks for getting me up to speed.

  18. Hopes@Staying Afloat! says

    I'm crying in my wine right now! I SO WANT AN iPHONE!! I swear I 'm the last person on the face of this earth without one! HA! We are waiting for the new one to be release before we make the leap. It can't come soon enough! Instagram is going to be the first app I install.

  19. Charlotte says

    What a cool app! I am really hoping to get an iPhone at some point, I guess when my contract runs up next year (grrr) but I'll be sure to look into this one. Awesome tutorial, Shell!

  20. The Preppy Girl in Pink says

    I love seeing Instagram used on the Twitter updates and I just saw the interview last week where they mentioned that they will be introducing a droid version soon. I have a droid, so I will have to live vicariously through those that have it until I can get it.

    Btw, thanks for signing up as a follower! Made my day when I saw your thumbprint pop up!

  21. Kimberly says

    I love instagram. It's so easy to use and makes the pictures look great. I find I check on my instagram app almost as much as twitter. 😉

  22. Jessica {Team Rasler} says

    I got my iPhone, downloaded instagram and then…never used it. Thanks for the tutorial and the nudge (though I probably need another social media app like I need a hole in the head)!

  23. blueviolet says

    I have an android so we're still waiting, but I'm sure this is on my iPod Touch, although I really don't use that for more than listening to music.

    I really do need to play around with the apps I do have available though.

  24. Mommy Nani Booboo says

    Oh I haven't played with Instagram in soooo long. Looks like they have new features. Thanks for the rekindle of the flame…

  25. Kate F. (@katefineske) says

    Thanks for the overview on Instagram! I have an account and still don't quite utilize it like I should :) All of the sudden one day I saw that somebody "liked" a photo of mine and I thought "Wow! hmm… there is so much I don't know about Instagram" :)

  26. For the Love of Naps - Sarah says

    I love instagram and I ahve been following you for a bit now. I am called "mamasarah" on there. In case you were wondering who that was. haha!

    ANyways, I LOVE getting a peek into your mama world, since you don't always focus on that on here. Your boys are ADORABLE!

  27. Kristin @ What She Said says

    I don't have an iPhone. But I want to get one just so I can use Instagram.

  28. Eijah says

    Hello there. I have a question. How do you put POP! in the picture in instagram? does it only appear hen your picture becomes popular? or do I need to upgrade my instagram? thanks.

  29. CCC says

    how can you put several pictures into one? I always see other pictures of other users with more than one picture. I don’t have any clues how they are doing this.
    Are they editing them before editing on instagram?

    • Shell says

      Type @username of the person you want to tag. No space between the @ and their username. Hope that helps! 

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