Visual marketing

How to Upload High Quality Images on Instagram

  • 13 Minutes
Good news: you can get around Instagram's image quality compression, and we've got your options listed right here.

Picture this: you put your heart and soul into creating a gorgeous photo or image for your feed.

Yet, when you go to upload your image assets to social media, you hit a roadblock.

The content you’ve so carefully created, collected, and curated looks terrible.

Maybe the formatting is all wrong, the quality is off, or your images are blurry or pixelated.

It’s a hot mess.

And if you need your image quality to be superior (eg, you’re a photographer or videographer), it’s crucial that you understand how to upload high quality images on Instagram.

So instead of losing precious pixels, here’s how you can upload amazing quality photos to Instagram and avoid losing hours of hard work.

The Lowdown on Instagram Image Quality

This vast user base is constantly uploading, viewing, and interacting with content. This is great news for businesses who want to use the platform as a marketing channel. But Instagram can’t possibly handle such colossal amounts of data every day by uploading images in their original high-resolution format. The platform simply wouldn’t be able to function – or it would be painfully slow and prone to crashing!

So, if images are uploaded in the incorrect format, even if they’re super high-resolution, Instagram’s algorithm automatically compresses them. It’s the perfect solution, right? Well, no…not always.

If you don’t know how to upload high quality images on Instagram, this automatic image compression can transform your high quality images, compressing them to the point where they look blurry, pixelated, discolored, and even hard to recognize! If you continue uploading poor-quality images, your engagement will plummet and your followers will leave your page in droves.

The good news is that there are several ways to get around your image upload issues. By understanding what the best image quality for Instagram is and how to upload your content so it displays correctly, you can ensure your posts won’t turn from fab to fail quicker than it takes you to say the word “engagement”.

Why Instagram Image Quality Matters

So why does Instagram even matter? Well, it’s not just that Instagram has such impressive user numbers – although it does. But it’s also that Instagram has become a highly effective marketing tool for businesses all over the globe, drawing in consumers en masse and pushing them down the path to purchase at lightning speeds. In fact, it’s so effective that a staggering 72% of Instagram users report having made a purchase after seeing a product on the platform.

Further, Instagram is being used more and more frequently as a key customer service channel for businesses, with consumers increasingly using the platform as a way to connect with businesses. Over 200 million Instagram users around the globe visit one or more business profiles each day, and over 150 million people use Instagram Direct (Instagram’s messaging feature) to communicate directly with a business each month.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever that, as a business, or even as an individual wanting to build your digital footprint, you’re presenting a consistent and cohesive brand presence to those consumers – instead of posting pixelated images that are barely visible.

Instagram is a primarily visual medium, which presents rich opportunities to wow consumers with high-impact visual content. But, in the same token, this means that by uploading images incorrectly, businesses could be losing opportunities to impress and, ultimately, convert consumers.

Not to mention the fact that marketing teams can easily waste countless hours trying to fix Instagram image upload issues. So, why not do it right the first time?

Here’s How to Upload High Quality Images on Instagram

So, how can you upload your fabulous visual content properly while achieving the best image quality for Instagram? Well, there are a few different ways you can go about uploading images without losing your Instagram image quality.

Ideally, you want an upload process that is as simple as possible. This will mean you’re not left posting at the last minute and you don’t run the risk of formatting your image incorrectly.

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to upload high quality images on Instagram.

Step 1: Prepare Your Images

Unless you are brand new to Instagram, you should already have a social content strategy and content streams that make it super effortless for you to categorize your content and come up with fresh posts regularly. If not, we suggest you create one! This will help you build a regular monthly social media content calendar, allowing you to schedule your content in advance.

Either way, whether you’re scheduling a month in advance or a day in advance, it’s important to collect and curate your images before you post, and store them in an accessible location that can be easily shared with your team.

Images that are shared amongst teams using email or other methods often get compressed. This means you can easily compromise the image’s quality – and that’s before you’ve even considered posting!

On the other hand, images taken on a DSLR camera will almost always be provided in a high-resolution quality, unless your photographer has already resized them for social media. That means that you’ll definitely need to resize your images to make them smaller so they don’t get compressed by Instagram.

Step 2: Understand Instagram Image Requirements

Ready to post your images? It pays to take a moment to check your images beforehand to ensure they’re going to post correctly, and then make any adjustments as needed.

Typically, there are three reasons why your images might not be displaying correctly:

  • Your aspect ratio is incorrect. In this case, Instagram will automatically crop your image and you could lose quality
  • Your image is over 1MB and Instagram is automatically compressing it
  • Your image is too small or is of a low-quality image resolution

Essentially, the best resolution to use for Instagram images is the following:

For portrait photos: 1080px by 1350px. This will fill up most of the phone’s screen on mobile (on which Instagram is most commonly used).

For square photos: 1080px by 1080px.

For landscape or horizontal photos: Posting a horizontal photo is not advised because of how users hold their smartphone vertically. But if you do happen to be posting a horizontal photo, then the longest edge needs to be 1080px.

If your images are not the correct size, they may not display properly or, worse still, Instagram will automatically compress them. And, unless you’re methodically checking each post that goes live, you’re likely to miss these image posting errors.

The preferred image formats for Instagram are JPG or JPEG files, however, you can also use PNG and BMP.

Step 3: Edit Your Images

So, you’ve identified that your images are the incorrect size, shape, or format. Firstly, you can start by resizing your image to suit your desired specifications. By resizing your images yourself prior to posting, you eliminate the risk that Instagram will do it for you and ruin how your beautiful images are displayed.

If you don’t have access to any scheduling tools, you can resize your image files using a simple tool like Canva, or you can use Adobe Lightroom if you are already using it for photo editing.

Canva dashboard

If you’re new to Adobe Lightroom, you typically need to take a course to fully understand all its features, but if you’re just looking to re-size your images, for now, follow the below steps:

  • Firstly, crop your image to a ratio of 4 x 5
  • Sharpen your image using the sharpening tool. Slight adjustments are best, to begin with
  • Resize your image so the short edge is no more than 1080 pixels
  • Export your image with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch
  • Double-check that your exported image is no more than 1MB in size

Remember, if you are using Canva or Lightroom, you still need to beware when sharing your images. If you email your images to others (or even to yourself), you still run the risk of image compression. Instead, upload the image to Google Drive to share with others. From there, you (or others in your team) can download it on mobile, and post the image.

Step 4: Upload via Instagram

Even if your image is already supplied in the correct format and size, you might want to perform a couple of adjustments to ensure the quality of your image is the best it can possibly be. If you don’t have a scheduling tool, you’ll have to do this manually. Again, you can use Lightroom or Canva, but if you’re just making some simple adjustments, you can also simply use Instagram itself.

When posting your image manually on Instagram, simply follow the below instructions to edit:

  • Click the “+” symbol to start creating a new post
  • Select your image
  • Hit “next”
  • Hit “edit”
  • Select the “brightness” feature and increase this slightly using the slider tool – we recommend no more than 30% but use your discretion
  • Select the “contrast” feature and increase this very slightly – ideally no more than 10%
  • Scroll across to the “sharpen” feature and increase the sharpness of your image. This can help it appear more high resolution
  • Hit “next”, add your caption, and then post as you normally would

Highlight of the edit text on Instagram

Highlight of the sharpen function on Instagram

Highlight of the range of sharpen on Instagram

Of course, edits using Instagram won’t be as advanced as other editing tools, but if you’re stuck at an event and need to post something immediately, they can still make a noticeable improvement to your posts.

The difficulty of editing within Instagram on an ongoing basis is that you have to edit as you post. That means you can’t schedule your posts in advance, making it difficult for you and your team to keep up with a regular posting schedule.


Step 5: Upload via Sked Social

Instead of buying a variety of tools to edit, share, and schedule your Instagram images, why not consolidate your software and use one platform for everything?

The benefits of using a scheduling platform are endless, especially when it comes to uploading your images the right way. By using a scheduling tool, you can store, share, curate, edit, re-size, and schedule your images, all in the one system. This is about a million times easier than having three different systems for file storage, file sharing, and image editing.

Enter: Sked Social. Our platform enables you to keep all your images in the one platform, where you can seamlessly manage and schedule your content, rather than switching platforms for different tasks. This particularly helps when social media is your key channel, or when different members of your social or marketing team need to collaborate, share, and schedule content. This is especially important when teams are working and collaborating remotely.

Picture this; you have social media images in about five different locations, ranging from a random file on the server to someone’s home PC. There’s a better solution!

Instead, Sked Social can store all your images in the one library. It allows you to easily import and store all your assets in the one place, with different collections for different brands, products, and locations. The platform can even auto-tag your images to make things even easier.

If you’re running low on content, Sked Social even has an enormous supply of free stock images that you can import and use, without worrying about licensing issues!

Need to edit your image? No problem! Our platform allows you to perform advanced adjustments on your images before you schedule your post! Simply click the “edit” button, make adjustments as needed, and schedule your post.

The Sked Social photo editor allows you to:

  • Crop your image to your desired size
  • Add a filter
  • Make small adjustments like tweaking the sharpness, contrast, or brightness
  • Change the focus
  • Add text to your image
  • Add stickers or emojis to your image
  • Add overlays in varying intensities, such as a vintage overlay

In fact, whether you’re uploading to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, Sked Social’s image editor has preset crop sizes which give you the confidence to crop to the correct size, whether you’re posting to Facebook or you want to upload an Instagram Story. This really helps when you’re starting out – no more triple-checking your posting sizes for each platform.

The best part about Sked Social is that if you do happen to upload an image with the incorrect specifications, the platform will present you with an error message, based on the platform you’re scheduling on. This enables you to go back, edit your image correctly and re-upload in the correct format. Hallelujah! You’ll never have a blurry image again.

Step 6: Check Your Live Posts

If you’re uploading your images on Instagram, we recommend checking your posts once they are live, to be sure they are uploaded in the correct format. This will ensure you’re not plagued by discoloration, blurriness, or any other image issue. You may also need to check your image from a different device to ensure it uploads correctly.

When you’re using a scheduling tool, the risk of uploading an image incorrectly is far lower. In fact, business owners love scheduling content in advance, as it allows them to “set and forget” their social content so they can direct their attention towards customer service, driving conversions, or a range of other crucial day-to-day business activities.

If you or someone else within your business is scheduling social content for the first time, it pays to check the first few posts to ensure you have added your posts correctly. But, on the whole, scheduling gives you the freedom to automate your posting and minimise the time spent on social media management.

We hope this article has helped you understand how to upload high quality images on Instagram. With any luck, soon your image uploading process will become second nature and you’ll be able to post seamlessly – without going cross-eyed trying to view your compressed images!

Remember; the sooner you can set up efficient processes and automate your social media marketing, the sooner you can focus your efforts on nailing your social media content. In turn, you’ll start to see increases in engagement, and consumers will be more likely to start trickling down the path to purchase.

Ready to automate your social media channels?

Sked Social allows you to collect, curate, and customize your content like a pro! Manage your accounts, set and forget your posts months in advance, and collaborate with your teams or different clients seamlessly.

You can find out if Sked Social is right for you with a free 7-day trial now!

Photo of Meg AndrewMeg Andrew

Megan is a seasoned writer and social media nerd who loves to create content marketing magic. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her geeking out over a new book, watching terrible reality TV, or forcing her unwilling dog to participate in photoshoots. Find her on Twitter at @meganjaneandrew.

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