The 23 Best Instagram Story Hacks You Can Use

  • The Instagram Story hacks listed here allow you to add all kinds of effects to your posts that disappear after 24 hours.
  • These hidden features include the ability to hide hashtags, layer images, and add closed captions. 
  • Here are 23 of the best tricks, hacks, and little-known features in Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories may be ephemeral, lasting just 24 hours, but they are a favorite way for many people to share with and stay connected to others online. Are you getting the most out of Stories? Probably not — there are all sorts of tips, tricks, and hacks out there that can help you make a bigger and better splash with Instagram’s top feature. Here are 23 Instagram Story hacks that’ll help you level up your IG game.

Make a private Story

As long as you have a public account, your Instagram Stories are typically visible to anyone and everyone — whether they follow you or not. If you’d rather create a Story for a more private audience, you can share it with specific people. 

To get started, you need to designate some close friends. Tap your account icon at the lower right, then the three-line menu at the top right. Choose Close Friends and select anyone you’d like to make a close friend. Now, wherever you make a new Story and tap the Send to button, you can choose to share it privately just with your Close Friends

Adding Close Friends in Instagram.

You can share Stories with everyone or just an audience of close friends.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Hide Stories from certain people

When you publish a Story, you can share it with the world or just with close friends. But you have another option as well — you can hide your Stories from certain people as well. To do this, start a new Story and then tap the Settings icon at the top right. On the Camera settings page, tap Story and then choose Hide story from. Add any contacts who should never see your Stories and tap Done

Hide your messy hashtags

Hashtags are a necessary evil on Instagram; you need them for discoverability, but they can look like alphabet soup gone wild. The good news: You can hide them. 

Add an image with a relatively solid background color to your Story and type your hashtags. Be sure the text background is turned off, so the text is floating directly on the image. With the text still active, tap the rainbow-themed Color icon. In the row of colors, tap the Eyedropper and tap the region of the picture where you want the text to appear. Tap Done, and drag the hashtag into the part of the photo with the same color until it fades into the background. 

Use a green screen

Green screen technology is awesome, letting you overlay yourself over any sort of background. There’s a green screen built into Instagram and it’s easy to use. 

Start a Story and choose Camera. Swipe the Effects icons at the bottom of the screen to the left until you get to the magnifying glass. Tap it and search for “green.” Tap the Green Screen filter when it appears in the search results. Now you can tap Change media to choose a photo from your camera roll and overlay yourself in the scene.  

The Filters list in Instagram.

Look for the Green Screen filter to overlay yourself over a photo or video.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Add a background image behind a shared post

If you want to get fancy, you can position a shared post over a different background image that’s located in your camera roll. Start by tapping the post you want to share, tap the paper plane-shaped Share icon, and choose Add post to your story. Next, tap the Stickers icon and tap the Camera Roll sticker. Select the image you want to use as a backdrop from your camera roll. 

This is where it takes a little finessing to make things work. Slide the post and the background image to opposite sides of the screen so you can see both, and then tap and hold the background image with two fingers. Now tap and hold the post until it snaps in front of the background image. Adjust and size the background image until it covers the whole screen, and then position the post front and center. 

Add any color you like

You probably are already familiar with the 28 color options at the bottom of the screen when you choose the drawing tool. But in reality, you can choose from any color of the rainbow. Just tap and hold any of those color choices to see the full-spectrum color picker. Once it appears, just swipe to the color you like. 

The color picker in Instagram.

Tap and hold a color to get access to a full spectrum of color options.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Add and customize a background for your text

Some of the coolest features are hiding in plain sight. You have a choice of three backgrounds for text you add in Stories; black (or the selected font color), white, or no background at all. Once you’ve added text, every tap of the Background icon at the top of the screen cycles you through a different option. Remember to pair this trick with different font choices at the bottom of the screen to change up the background style in even more ways. 

Text with a background in Instagram.

Cycle through your background options by tapping the Background icon.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Make your emojis pop

Want your emojis to “pop” with more vibrancy than usual? There are a variety of effects lurking in the various font styles. To see, add an emoji to an image in a Story. Make sure the text background is on, and then just swipe through the various fonts at the bottom of the image. 

Bookmark your favorite filters 

If you frequently use a handful of filters, you might want to bookmark them so they’re easier to find when you need them. Start a Story and choose the Camera. At the bottom of the screen, swipe through all your filters until you see the Magnifying Glass and tap it. Find a filter you want to save for later and tap it, then tap the Bookmark icon at the bottom of the screen. Now that filter will appear in the row of filters at the bottom of the screen, one tap away. 

Add closed captions

Instagram gives you a few handy ways to add captions to video. Start a new Story and record some video with the Camera — then tap the Stickers icon and choose the sticker named Captions. If you prefer, before you start recording, find the filter named Bubble Captions, which adds captioning in the form of bubble text. Both automatically transcribe your speech into text on screen.  

Closed Captions in Instagram.

Instagram automatically captions if you choose the Captions sticker.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Create a solid-colored background

Photo backgrounds are nice, but if you want the impactful punch of a wall of color, you can easily create a solid background in any color you choose. Tap the three-dot icon in the top right corner, tap the Draw tool and then find the color you like using the color palette choices at the bottom of the screen. Now just tap and hold anywhere in the image for several seconds until it fills the screen with your selected color. 

Add 3D text

A drop shadow is one of the oldest tricks in the typesetter’s book, and you can add a 3D-like drop shadow effect in Instagram with a little clever copy and pasting. Tap the Text tool and type some text over an image. Make sure the text background is turned off, so the text appears directly in the image. Select the text and copy it. Now add another text field and paste in the text you copied earlier. Select the text and make it a contrasting color, then drag one text block over the other, offsetting it slightly so you get a simple drop shadow effect.  

Adding text in Instagram.

Overlay the same text in contrasting colors to create a drop shadow effect.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Give your Story a soundtrack

You can easily add music to your story; tap the Stickers icon and select Music. There’s an enormous library to choose from. After it appears in your Story, depending on the track, there may be multiple ways to visualize the music as well, including lyrics, song title or album info. If you don’t want to see any of that in your story, choose the track title sticker and simply hold and drag its icon off screen to hide it from your published Story.

Add your brand’s exact color

Even if you have access to all the colors in the world (which you do, if you follow the steps in “Add any color you like,” earlier in this article, it doesn’t do much good if you want to use a specific color, like from your brand’s logo. 

Thankfully, you can lift the exact shade you need. In your Story, click the Sticker icon and then choose the Add from Camera Roll sticker. Add a photo from your camera roll that contains the color you need. Tap the three-dot icon followed by the Draw tool and then choose the eyedropper-shaped Color Picker from the bottom left. Drag the picker to the part of the image that has the color you want to sample and tap Done. Finally, drag the sticker — which you no longer need — to the bottom of the screen and drop it in the trash. You now have selected the color you can use for anything you like.

Make text and stickers appear at a specific moment

Not every element in your Story needs to be on screen all the time. If you want a sticker or some text to appear strategically in the middle of your Story, add it in the usual way. Then tap and hold the text or sticker until you see a slider appear at the bottom of the screen. Drag it to the part of the video in which you want it to appear, and tap Pin

Add a picture within a picture

Here’s a trick you can do within a Story: Add a picture-in-picture, with the second picture vignetted within a shape like a circle, square, star or heart. To do this, choose a photo as your background, then tap the Sticker icon. Choose the Add from Camera Roll sticker and choose the second image. Now tap on the image — each tap cycles you through the various shapes, like heart, star, square, and circle. You can resize, move, and angle the picture. 

Adding a picture in a shape in Instagram.

Photos can appear in cutouts like hearts, stars, squares, and circles.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Add commerce to your Story

It almost goes without saying that your IG should be shoppable these days. If you’re just starting to monetize your feed, there’s an easy way to add shopping links to a Story. After you create a Story and add a picture or video of the product, tap the Sticker icon and choose the Product sticker. Now just choose the product from the catalog and customize the text in the sticker. 

Use a video as an animated background

Forget about a solid background; you can use video as a background and add images on top. Choose a video from your camera roll or record a new one. Then tap the Sticker icon and choose the Add from Camera Roll sticker. Pick out an image and then resize and position it wherever you like in the screen on top of the video.

Paste photos from your iOS camera roll

If you have an iPhone, here is a trick that works just for you — you can paste images from your camera roll directly into a Story. Open your Photos app and find a photo you want to paste into Instagram. Tap the Share icon and choose Copy Photo. Then open Instagram, go to your Story and double-tap the screen. In the pop-up menu, choose Paste

Turn your iPhone’s Live photos into boomerangs

Instagram boomerangs are video clips that play forward, then backwards, endlessly, in a permanent loop. And Instagram lets you convert a Live photo on your iPhone into a boomerang. Just create a Story and scroll through your camera roll. Any eligible photos will have the Boomerang “infinity” symbol. Select one, then tap and hold it when it appears as the background, and the image will process for a few moments — then it’ll be a boomerang. 

Adding photos from your camera roll in Instagram.

Look for the boomerang symbol to know if you can turn the image into a boomerang.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Reveal a hidden photo behind a solid background

You can get creative with the eraser. For example, you can use it to reveal parts of a hidden image behind a solid background. Here’s what to do: Create a Story and choose a photo from your camera roll. Then tap the three-dot icon followed by the Draw tool, choose a color, and tap and hold to turn the entire screen a solid color. Now tap the Eraser icon and start erasing — you should see the original photo reveal itself. 

Add a translucent color layer on top of your Story

You can add a layer of color to any photo or video with just a few taps. Start a Story and choose a picture or video. Then tap the three-dot icon followed by the Draw tool and choose the Marker. At the bottom of the screen, pick the color you like, then tap and hold anywhere on the screen until you see the color effect. 

Make a grid of photos

If you’ve never figured out what the Layout tool is good for, here you go: You can arrange a grid of photos or videos. Start a Story and select the Camera. Then, in the menu on the left, choose the Layout tool. If you want to, you can change the grid (by default it’s a 2×2 grid of four squares). In each square, swipe up to get to the camera roll and select an image or video. Then repeat the process until you’ve filled each part of the grid.