The Instagram Reels logo.

Reels is Instagram’s attempt to capitalize on the popularity of TikTok. The feature allows you to create 15-second videos with a handful of fun editing tools. Here’s how to get started.

You might be wondering how Reels is any different from Instagram Stories. While Stories is more about your daily life, Reels is all about creativity and entertainment. There are a few new editing tools to help you make something fun and shareable.

RELATED: What Is Instagram Reels, and Is It a TikTok Clone?

Instagram Reels is similar to TikTok, but the main difference is it’s a feature inside a larger ecosystem. TikTok, on the other hand, is exclusively for short video clips. If you’re already an avid Instagram user, Reels might be more appealing.

How to Record and Create Instagram Reels

To get started, open Instagram on your iPhone or Android device (you can also upload reels from a computer). From there, tap the Camera icon in the top-left corner to open the Instagram Stories camera.

instagram reels camera

At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the different camera modes. Swipe over to “Reels.”

instagram reels

In the “Reels” mode, you’ll see four icons on the left side of the screen. These are the tools you can use while recording:

  • Music: Select music to play over your clip.
  • Playback: Choose the playback speed of the clip. You can use slow motion or fast-forward effects.
  • Effects: Instagram’s library of augmented reality masks, backgrounds, games, and more.
  • Timer: Predetermine the length of the clip so you don’t have to use your hands to stop recording.

instagram reels tools

There are a few other buttons on the screen, as well. You can turn the flash on or off, flip between the front and rear cameras, or go to the Story settings.

instagram reels tools

If you’d like to create a Reel from prerecorded videos, you can add media by tapping the plus sign (+) in the bottom-left corner.

instagram reels media

Select a video (you can’t use photos) from your media gallery.

instagram reels media gallery

You can now trim the video by dragging the ends of the timeline. Tap “Upload” when you’re done.

instagram reels media upload

To start recording a new video, tap the Camera button. A pink progress bar will appear at the top of the screen to indicate the 15-second clip limit.

instagram reels start

Tap the camera button again to stop recording or allow the 15 seconds to run out.

instagram reels progress

To record a clip hands-free, tap the aforementioned “Timer” button, select a time length, and then tap “Set Timer.”

You can then put your phone in a mount or prop it up and tap the Camera button to begin recording. It will automatically stop at the predetermined time length.
instagram reels timer
instagram reels start

If you stop recording before the 15-second limit, you have the option to align new clips with previous ones for a seamless transition. After recording a clip, you’ll see a new Align icon appear on the side; tap it to see an overlay of the previous clip. Then, move your camera to align.

instagram reels align

Clips shorter than 15 seconds will minimize to the left of the Camera button. You can tap this to delete the clip or trim the length before proceeding.
instagram reels review
instagram reels delete trim

Tap the camera button again to add a new clip to the series. A Reel can include as many clips as you want, but they must add up to 15 seconds or less.

Once you’ve recorded all your clips, tap the Next arrow (>) to begin editing. If you used the full 15 seconds on the first recording, you’ll automatically be brought to the editing screen.

instagram reels next step

How to Edit and Share Instagram Reels

Now that you’ve recorded a Reel, you’ll see a new set of tools at the top of the screen:

  • Download: Tap this to save the video to your phone.
  • Stickers: This is where you can add Instagram stickers, emojis, and GIFs.
  • Draw: Doodle on the video with a number of different pens and color choices.
  • Text: Add text with different fonts and colors.

instagram reels editing tools

This is also where you can adjust the length of a Reel. Drag the handles at the ends of the timeline at the bottom to trim the clip.

instagram reels trim

After you’ve finished editing the Reel, tap the Next arrow (>) at the bottom right.

instagram reels done editing

Now, it’s time to share your Reel with the world (or just a few friends). There are two tabs for sharing your creations: “Reels” and “Stories.”

instagram reels sharing tabs

Sharing via the “Reels” tab will put your video on your profile and in your follower’s feeds like a regular Instagram post. First, tap the preview to choose a cover image.

instagram reels cover image

To adjust the cover, drag your finger across the timeline at the bottom of the screen until you find a still image you like. You can also tap “Add From Gallery” to choose a cover photo from your photo gallery.

instagram reels set cover

Tap “Done” when you’re happy with the cover image.

instagram reels cover image

Now you can give your Reel a caption; tap the text box next to the Reel to type one.

instagram reels set caption

If your account is public, the Reel might also appear in the “Discover” tab. This means people who don’t follow you will be able to see it when browsing the public “Discover” tab. It will also be visible publicly on your profile.

Toggle-On “Also Share to Feed” (not present on private accounts) to share a Reel with your followers, as well.

instagram reels share discover

Sharing a Reel through the “Stories” tab simply posts it to your Instagram Story, and it will remain there for 24 hours. The “Stories” tab is also where you can send the Reel as a direct message to someone or a group.

instagram reels stories

How to Browse Instagram Reels

Reels are integrated into the main Instagram interface, but there are a few different ways you can view only Reels.

First, Reels from the accounts you follow will simply show up in your feed and Stories. To view Reels from a specific account, go to that person’s profile page and tap the Reels icon.

instagram reels account

Instagram also has a dedicated section for browsing Reels. Open the Instagram app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Tap the Magnifying Glass icon at the bottom to go to the “Discover” tab.

instagram discover tab

Tap “Reels” in the bottom left.

instagram reels browse

You’re now in the Reels browsing interface. At the bottom left, you can tap the icons to Like, Comment, or Share Reels. The Camera icon at the top right will take you to the Reel creation screen.

instagram reels browse

To browse through Instagram Reels, swipe up to go to the next video or swipe down to refresh the feed.

instagram reels browse

When you’re done browsing, tap the Back arrow at the top left to leave the Reels interface and return to the main Instagram app.

instagram reels exit

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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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