7 Hidden Instagram Editing Tips and Tricks

James Martin/CNET

When you upload photos to Instagram, the app lets you do more than just tap on a filter and hit post. If you’re looking for a way to give your feed an aesthetic boost without having to deal with third-party apps and software, it’s worth checking out Instagram’s built-in photo editing tools. Of course, they’re nowhere near as advanced as the tools you’ll find in professional photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom – but for a basic edition, they will do the job.

Check out these six easy ways to up your Instagram game without ever leaving the app.

1. Tap to compare the filter to the original

Better or worse? Think of eye tests where Doc keeps flipping the lenses over your face to see if the letters are clearer or blurrier. This way, quickly compare the effects of a filter to your original photo by tapping on the preview. Hold your finger down to see the original; release to see what the filter does to it.

2. Dim a filter effect

Filters don’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair. If you find a filter you like but find its effect too strong, you can recall it. With a filter selected, tap its small thumbnail below the preview and you can use a slider to adjust the intensity of its effect.


Screenshot by Mary King/CNET

3. Apply filters to individual photos in an album

If you upload multiple photos to an Instagram album, tap to choose a filter under your selected photos and it will apply to all of them. If you want to choose a different filter for each photo (and make other edits), you need to tap on each photo to view the filters and edit tools to apply to that photo only.

4. Press for minor edits

After choosing a filter, I like to go to the editing screen and adjust the brightness, contrast, highlights, and shadows. These are the must-have edits, with perhaps the occasional Vignette or Tilt Shift effect. You can drag the slider of any editing tool to change its effect. For finer edits, simply tap the left or right of the circle on the slider – each tap moves it one number.

5. Keep track of your changes

If you get too deep into editing a photo and can’t remember which editing tools you’ve used before, there’s an easy way to keep track. Instagram places a gray dot under any editing effect you’ve applied to your photo.


Screenshot by Mary King/CNET

6. Don’t forget the Lux

Along with Instagram’s filters and editing tools, there’s another tool you might overlook. It’s not in the Filter or Edit sections at the bottom of your phone, but above your photo preview. Tap the sun icon to call up a slider for Lux. This can help balance uneven exposure, adding detail to areas that are too dark or too bright.

If you are willing to download third-party apps to edit your photos, here is our list of the best free and paid photo editing apps for iPhone and Android. More, Instagram now lets you tag products in posts.

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