What Are Instagram’s “Stories”, and How Do I Use Them?

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Instagram has taken a leaf out of Snapchat’s book and added a disappearing Story feature. Now, as well as posting normal images to Instagram, users can share what’s happening in the moment. Any image posted to a Story stays live for just 24 hours. After that, it’s gone.

RELATED: What Is Snapchat?

Instagram’s Story is a great way to share events as they happen without clogging up your carefully curated feed with dozens of throwaway images. Your friends and followers might be interested to see what’s going on in your life, or get a behind the scenes view of what you’re working on, but they probably want to be able to opt in rather than have it just appear in their feed. It’s part of Instagram’s move to be a more complete social network, rather than just a place for pretty pictures.

Let’s look at how to use it.

How to View Your Friends’ Stories

At the top of your Instagram feed, there are little circles with the people you follow’s Stories. Instagram arranges them using an algorithm so the people you interact with most will appear first.

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To view a person’s Story, tap on their icon. This will bring up their story. It will look something like this.

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The bar at the top of the screen counts down how long is left of that item. Tap Send Message, to send a Direct Reply to them. Tap the three dots in the lower right, to get the option to report the image to Instagram if it’s offensive.

Swipe to the right to go back to the previous account’s story. Swipe to the left to go on to the next account’s story.

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Tap on the left side of the screen to go back to the previous image in the same account’s Story. Tap on the right side of the screen to go forward to the next image in the account’s Story.

Tap on the little X or swipe up to exit Stories.

When you’ve finished watching one person’s Story, Instagram will automatically take you on to the next person’s.

How to Post Your Own Story to Instagram

To post an image to your own Story, tap the Camera icon in the top left of the screen, or swipe to the right.

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This will take you to Instagram’s camera.

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There are four different modes: Normal, Boomerang, Hands Free and Live.

To take a photo in Normal, just tap the circle button. To take a short video, hold the circle button down.

Boomerang is a weird mode that takes a serious of photos and then combines them together into a short video. The catch is that instead of looping, it plays through normally and then plays back again in reverse. You can see an example in the GIF below.

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In Hands Free mode, tap the circle to start recording video and tap it again to stop. Unlike in Normal mode, you don’t have to hold the button down.

Live mode lets you broadcast a live video to your followers. Once you stop broadcasting, the video is gone.

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Tap the Gear icon in the top left to go to the settings screen. Here you can block people from viewing your Story and set who can reply with messages.

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The three icons at the bottom are the Flash, Night Mode and Switch Camera buttons. The Flash button toggles the flash between on, off and automatic. The Night Mode button automatically brightens the image the camera takes. The Switch Camera button swaps between your rear and front facing cameras.

If you don’t want to take an image with Instagram’s camera and instead want to add one from your phone, swipe up and you’ll be able to select any of the images from your phone.

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Once you’ve taken or selected an image, you’ll see this screen.

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To Save it to your phone, tap the Save button.

To add stickers, text and drawing to your picture, tap the buttons in the top right.

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To post the image to your Story, tap the Your Story button.

You can also tap the arrow, select Your Story and tap Send.

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How to See Who’s Viewed Your Instagram Story

To see who’s viewed your Instagram Story, tap on Your Story.

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Next, swipe up to get a list of everyone who’s viewed your story.

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Instagram’s Story feature is a pretty direct copy of Snapchat’s. Even still, because lots of people already follow a few hundred people on Instagram, it’s really taken off. There’s no need to go out and add the same friends to Snapchat if you already have them on Instagram.

Harry Guinness writes occasionally when he’s not busy skiing, sailing, partying, lifting weights, or otherwise dodging responsibility. His main areas of interest are himself, gin, and crazy people with interesting stories to tell. When people won’t pay him to write ill-thought-out opinion pieces, he covers photography, technology, and culture. You can follow him on Twitter.