Lots of people want to know how to use Instagram on a computer so they can upload photos to Instagram from computers.
But the free Instagram app is designed for taking, editing and sharing images on mobile phones, rather than desktop machines. Its special effects or filters for enhancing pictures are a big part of its popularity, so naturally a lot of people want to use those filters on their regular computers in addition to their phones.
No Easy Solution
But unfortunately, there's no Instagram for computer app available that would make it easy to upload photos and use the app's filters on your PC or Mac. Despite requests from many users for the ability to upload photos from their computers, Instagram offers no such feature.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, did roll out a Web version of its software which it called "Your Instagram Feed on the Web" in February 2013, allowing users to comment on each other's photos from a regular computer. But that Web feed and Instagram's website do not allow uploading images directly from a computer; they're simply designed to display what people have uploaded from mobile devices on the Web, and to give each user their own area on the Website. (You can find your Web area by substituting your Instagram user ID for "user name" in this URL: http://instagram.com/username).
A lot of people enjoy Instagram so much that they really want to be able to use a full-featured version on their laptops or desktop computers. That way, they figure they can take photos with a higher quality digital camera, stick the memory card into their computer and upload images to Instagram's website, then use the app's special effects to enhance each picture ( or video, which Instagram added in June 2013; see our step-by-step Instagram video tutorial).
But as stated, Instagram's website has no tools for uploading photos directly from computers. It's for viewing and sharing photos and videos and managing your Instagram connections and account.
Is There a Workaround for Instagram on Computers?There has to be a workaround, right? Well, sort of. Various tech-savvy folks have come up with workarounds, but they aren't for the technologically faint of heart. One solution is to install a special software program designed to simulate a mobile phone operating system on your computer (called a phone emulator) and allow you to run mobile apps that way. An example of an emulator is the BlueStacks App Player. You can try downloading the app and installing it on your computer. Once it's installed and running, search for "Instagram" using the app's search interface and install it on your computer. Be advised, though, that many technical glitches have been reported by folks trying to get Bluestacks to work with Instagram on a PC or Mac. Instagram typically will run, allowing you to see photos that other people have uploaded, but you'll still need to install a media uploader in order to upload your pictures to Instagram. An example of such a program is Media Sync, but problems have been reported with that too.
If you're a Windows users, another app called Gramblr offers an uploader that is simpler to install and use, but only if you have a Windows PC. While Gramblr is supposed to be compatible with Macs, it's had a lot of compatibility issues on the Apple side of things. And even on the PC, side there are challenges -- you have to fork over your Instagram password, for example, since it uses Instagram's API.
Perhaps the lowest-tech solution is email--just email the photo you want to share on Instagram to yourself, then access that email on your mobile phone and fire up Instagram.
Yet another workaround for sharing your non-mobile photos on Instagram is to use Dropbox, the free cloud-based storage app, and upload your photos to Dropbox. Then go to your phone or tablet and access your free area on Dropbox, find the photos you want to share, and share them on Instagram. This option doesn't give you access to Instagram's filters for those pictures, but does at least let you share them on Instagram.
Other Instagram Apps for ComputersPlenty of other Instagram-related programs exist for desktop computers (but not specifically for uploading photos to Instagram.) One is called Instagram for PC. Another app for desktop use is a free program called Instagrille, which pretty much allows you to do everything you'd normally do on Instagram on your PC--except upload photos.
Other, Similar Apps
If you want to apply special effects from your computer, try some other photo apps that do things similar to Instagram. Two good ones are Pixlr and Poladroid.net, which run from a standard Web browser and include some cool vintage filter effects.
For the latest info, check out the official Instagram FAQs on its website.It said in the summer of 2013: "We are currently working on making the iPhone and Android experiences as solid as possible. Only then will we consider other platforms, but currently we have nothing to announce."