Instagram Stories, the 15-second, disappearing-video format at the top of your Instagram app, has been around for a little over a year — which means you should be caught up with the basic premise: Snap a photo, add a caption, add to Story. But now that you’ve got that down, what else can you do? Here are ten tricks you can use. Make your Stories prettier! Make them grabbier! Make them 17 shades of pastel you didn’t know existed on Instagram! Make them so good, you become an influencer and can quit your day job and travel the world on #sponsored vacations full-time! (That last one might be a bit of a stretch.)
Customize your pen colors.
Tap the pen icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen. You’ll be shown a rainbow of color options along the bottom. Press and hold on one of the colors. (We chose blue.) Next, you’ll see a full color spectrum. Without lifting your finger from the screen, drag until you find your desired custom hue. This hack also worked for captions, just follow the same press and hold steps.
Use dual captions to create a shadow effect.
Add a single caption to your photo and position it where you’d like. We recommend using a neutral, like white or black, to create a shadow effect. Next, add another caption. Type the exact same thing — be sure not to add any extra spaces — in a different color. The two captions should be the same size. (You can use the font-sizing tool — the two different sized A’s on the left-hand side of the screen — if they’re not.) Position the second caption over the first, but set slightly askew.
Save your photos and re-upload them to layer your captions.
First, add a caption to your photo and decorate it as you’d like. Then tap the “Save” arrow in the lower-left-hand corner of the screen and tap the “Your Story” icon to add the image to your Story. Next, select the photo you just saved from your camera roll to add to your Story. Layer a second caption over the first. Repeat until you’ve said all you need to say.
Square captions are for squares.
If you don’t like the look of the square-corner backgrounds on your captions, you have another option. Use the pen tool to draw a different shape — circles, ovals, hearts, kidneys, you name it — and then place a caption over your new shape. Make sure to select the caption without any sort of background. (Ours is just white text.)
Your text doesn’t have to be the same size and color.
This trick is a little time-consuming because you have to add each letter or word as an individual caption and position them accordingly. Write the first word or letter and choose the color you’d like the font to be. Drag it into position. Add another caption in a different color and drag that where you’d like it. Again. And again.
Emoji are good for more than just showing your friends how much red wine you’ve consumed.
This is a weird trick that dates back to the days of Snapchat (and later Instagram) having minimal tools for editing. Still, points for creativity. Add an emoji as a caption. Then pinch out on the emoji to make it bigger. Once the emoji starts to pixelate drag it into position. Not quite sure when you’d use this one, but if you ever need to make your photo look like it’s been overtaken by a giant algae boom, or some neon-yellow smog, this is the hack for you.
Turn your face into a custom sticker.
This feature is actually built into the Instagram app, but can be a little confusing if you’ve never used it before. Tap the stickers icon — it’s a face — at the top of the screen. Next, tap the camera icon on the left-hand side of the second row that pops up from the bottom. Your face will appear at the center of the screen. (If you tap your face, a white border will appear around the sticker. Tap again if you want to go borderless.) Make your chosen face and press the white circle beneath your face to take the photo. Size and drag the sticker. You can add as many stickers of your face as you’d like, though you’ll have to retake the photo each time.
Unlock hidden sticker colors.
You’ve probably seen Instagram Stories with Instagram’s “day of the week” sticker. But did you know that if you tap the sticker while editing, it will change color? Instead of the colorful version that pops up first, the sticker — in this case Wednesday — will appear as a white stencil. You can leave that as is, or use the pen tool to color underneath the sticker to make it pop. To find the “day of the week” sticker, tap the sticker icon — smiley face at the top of the screen — and select it from the tray.
Create colorful overlays to tease your photos.
If you want to talk about a photo or a video you’re posting before letting your rabid followers actually see it, this is a handy hack. Select the pen tool and then select the color you’d like to use. Press and hold anywhere on the screen. The chisel-tip pen — second from the left — will create a translucent layer, while the marker — first on the left — will create an opaque layer. You can also add captions and emoji over the top of the layer you just added.
Spice up a pic with some polka dots.
The pen tool is useful for doodling and writing in cursive — if you still remember how to write in cursive — but it’s also good for making polka dots. Select the pen tool you’d like and then tap the screen once. You’ll add a single dot. Repeat as you’d like. You can also change the size of the dots and the colors. Look how much better de Blasio looks in purple polka dots.