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Crop for Instagram, from Your Smartphone!

Photo Moment - July 05, 2019

Learn how, entirely on iOS, to crop images for Instagram. Not just the obvious “it's a 4:5 crop, d'uh!”, but how to “crop” a landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) image and NOT crop any bits off, and how to build a two and even three tile slidable sequence for Instagram — ALL FROM YOUR SMARTPHONE.

📷 Products Mentioned

🔗 The links you seek

📄 Video Transcript 

This transcript has been automatically generated and is provided primarily for text searching purposes.

A Written Version of this Tip

Cropping and “Cropping” for Instagram's 4:5 Ratio

If you're posting to Instagram, you have to crop. That's all there is to it. Let's explore the options for dealing with it, specifically on mobile.

The first problem — cropping is necessary

Instagram crops to a 4:5 ratio, while most digital cameras shoot to either 2:3 (as vertical; 3:2 horizontal) or 3:4 (that's 4:3 in horizontal) ratio. That means that you have to crop your photo, pretty much no matter what kind of camera you're shooting on, if you want to post to Instagram.

And that's if you're dealing with vertical (portrait) photos. If you have a horizontal (landscape) photo, it gets worse. Instead of cropping a little off the top and bottom, you have to crop a lot off the sides!

The objective — fill the screen, and show your whole photo!

No matter the original orientation or aspect ratio, one of the golden rules of Instagram is to take up as much screen real estate as possible. You want your photo to be big, so as people scroll by, they're more likely to stop and interact with it. So that means using the full 4:5, no matter how your image was shot. 

The first problem — your photo looks better without the crop

Yeah, I know… when you shot the photo, you filled the frame and it looks amazing! You don't want to crop out a piece of it. So you really want to post the whole thing, but you can't! Here's an original 2:3 aspect ratio image, cropped to 4:5. Swipe back and forth to see how much is missing.

The first solution — build an image with white borders built in

Now we get to the meat of how to solve the problem. Instead of letting Instagram crop your image, you'll want to upload a photo that's the right 4:5 ratio, but has your 2:3 or 3:4 image inset with white borders. Here's an example of both side by side; the crop vs the bordered, in Instagram:

This works for landscape photos too, like this:

The second problem — white borders mess with your thumbnails

You may have noticed that these are real screenshots of real posts in my Instagram feed, and you may be asking yourself why I posted two versions; one that goes edge to edge, and one with the borders. One reason is pretty obvious; the borderless image takes up more screen real estate, so is more likely to be seen. The second reason though is the thumbnails. If you just upload a bordered photo, you'll see those borders in your thumbnails, like in my friend Sean Bagshaw's feed below. Check out the middle image:

And before you accuse me of poking fun at my friend, he did that on purpose to illustrate this issue… he talks about it one of his videos (linked below), and shows how to do what I'm doing but on the desktop in Photoshop!

The second solution — include both versions (and gain a secret bonus)

It's already been stated above, but yes, including both the cropped and the bordered image means you get the best of both worlds. Your image takes up maximum space on the viewer's screen, and you get the full thumbnail — but with a single swipe, viewers can see the original photo, as you intended it.

Plus, this has an additional benefit. Posts with multiple images will show up a second times in viewers' feeds if they don't swipe the first time! At least as of this writing (of course subject to change, because, Instagram), if you have two photos, and a viewer sees the first one but doesn't swipe to see the second, odds are good that your post will show up in their feed again, this time already on the second photo!

Next… now that you understand the what and why of the problem, learn how to fix it!

Leave a comment on YouTube

Comments from YouTube

Did you know you can do all this from your phone? Crazy, right?! What do you think… worth the effort to get the FULL image on Instagram, without cropping anything out and still filling the screen and keeping the full thumbnail? Also, read more about this video at — thanks!!
@PhotoJoseph I mean I thought it was just because they had good marketing. I remember buying an Ipod and being shocked that I couldn't just put what the hell I wanted on it! I felt conned because the Sony mp3 player was so much cheaper! From that day I hated apple and the false hype it generated!
Joe Marano I mean no disrespect, but that’s a pretty narrow view of a company that changed the world as you know it many times over. If you don’t believe that, then just look at whatever device you’re typing on right now, be it a phone, tablet or PC, and tell me how Apple isn’t hugely responsible for shaping what and how you use and interact with technology and information every day of your life, from hardware to software to delivery.
@PhotoJoseph Well I mean I have used windows my whole life and android for mobile. Apple has had minimal impact on my useage (as far as I am aware)
Ouch. Ok, history lesson time. Windows wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Macintosh. Apple made the first commercial graphical user interface on the Macintosh 35 years ago in January 1984, and brought the use of the mouse mainstream, which was pioneered at XEROX PARC. (Windows 1.0 shipped late 1985). Android operating system exists because of the iPhone. Google was already working on the next generation of handheld devices (to follow after blackberry and Treo and Palm Pilot and others) but Apple beat them to it with the iPhone, which was so far ahead of what they were doing that they started over. And the iPhone hardware was the first device of its kind; all android, windows mobile, etc. devices came after that. The slab of glass that you touch and pinch to interact with all started with the iPhone, launched in mid 2007, and the first Android was late 2008. So yes… Apple has EVERYTHING to do with every device you use and take for granted!
I think they have taken away the custom option so you cant resize photos in photomix anymore.
omg thank you for going into details😭
Wow, I always thought you would see the white borders if you zoomed out with that little button on the left... thank you for claryfing that!
Just drop an load an app ffs
Instagram is a stupid platform. I should be able to EASILY make a slideshow of landscape shots.
This is exactly what I needed!! I had to search thru 10 diff videos before I found this one that fits the bill<3 thank ya!!
Glad you found it!
This tutorial is great, however, the transparency showed up as black lines for me on instagram. Is there a way to fix that?
Thanks! Is the same doing this in Photoshop mix and Photoshop on the laptop? When you crop images with Photoshop mix then you save on you phone, maybe it change the resolution of the photo? and takes poor quality?
Why am I not seeing the custom option?
The version of PhotoS Mix i have been using, doesn't seem to have the option to set custom canvas size while cropping. Could you confirm the version of Mix you were using while making this video? Thanks a lot for making this video. Things got easier.
When i post a landscape photo using the steps, it got posted with the white border. Is there any way to remove the white border?

Also i am using the dark theme on instagram which makes it unpleasant.
My friend with this you have earned a sub! Thank you
if you're an android user - don't bother. The photoshop mix app doesn't even allow for custom measure on h + w.
What a brilliant tutorial. I have seen some posts like this on instagram and wondered how they were done. After watching this tutorial I have successfully posted my first 2 swipe-able landscape with a full landscape after. Perfect.
how do you add the full landscape photo after? whenever I want to add the final landscape photo, Instagram shows a zoomed in version please
Everything I can tell you is in this video. Just watch it again, please.
Hey, thanks for the video. This is crazy because I have literally looked high and low for this exact video showing how to upload a full size photo without compromising it by cutting it off. I have searched sites, apps, YouTube, everything.The exact thing u described is what I have been looking for. I have literally downloaded every photo editing app that u can possibly imagine. (No joke) And, for legit months now I have been researching this and, I can’t seem to get anywhere. Some of the apps offer preset aspect ratios which still cuts my photo off. And, even when you can enter it manually it still gets cut off. With my frustrating research I have came to the conclusion that u need the 1080x1350px in order to get that maximum real estate space like u mentioned in the video. And after MONTHS of trying to figure this out, I thought I finally found the answer with this video. However, I’m still confused. I tried following ur video exactly. I must have watched it like 100 times lol🙈. First, you said it’s easier to just upload from Lightroom because u already have all ur photos managed in there. But, does it matter if u upload from the regular camera roll? Does that still give u the maximum resolution or is it better coming from Lightroom? I know I must sound stupid asking this. I’m clearly a newbie. To be on the safe side, I tried uploading both from camera roll and the Lightroom app. But, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong😫. Maybe it’s because the photos I am trying to resize to be able to upload to IG for that full size photo are coming from Snapchat? What comes up before I resize on the photos is.....902px wide by 1792 tall? Idk what I’m doing wrong. I still cant seem to not have my photo chopped off. I’m literally so desperate at this point. It’s SOOOO frustrating not being able to figure this out. If you could help me, I would GREATLY appreciate it. Like u have no idea how grateful I would be. I have spent countless hours trying to do this yet, I just keep slamming my head against the wall. Please help me🙏🏻 if I could email u to show u screenshots of what I mean that would probably be easier but, I don’t know ur email.😐 Sorry for this extensive message in ur comments. I just don’t know what else to do and this video is literally the only one that I have found that talks about what I am aiming for. I don’t want to just have those white borders and have it look like that in my thumbnails. Which is exactly what u said. Anyways, hoping and praying u get back to me soon🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
When I pinched the screen to zoom out on the picture to fit that aspect ratio I entered, it wouldn’t zoom out like yours did in the video. The photo was basically zoomed in, which didn’t allow me to fit the whole picture in there which isnt what I’m aiming for? Plz help🙏🏻
Hey there I can’t walk through this with you here on youtube; too complicated. I don’t know offhand what you’re doing wrong; all I can say is to follow my steps exactly and it works. Usually when people tell me something doesn’t work, it’s because they are skipping a step or ignoring something I’ve said. I’m available to hire for 1:1 help but I doubt you want to do that for this. Just go step by step again, sorry. And if it’s worth it to you —
you should mention before the video starts that you’re using an app you pay for... MONTHLY
it's free man. ios and android versions are different. You'll find the same in applestore. apparently android and ios free versions are different.
Light is very nice!
You look like a ginger version of Ming... Ming from flash gordon...
This is hands-down one of the best and clearest tutorial I’ve ever watched on YouTube! Incredible video, mate. You answered all my questions on this topic, and this is a rare thing with tutorials. Thanks for making this and for doing it so properly! 💥
Wow very cool to hear, thank you!
Is there a free alternative to photoshop mix for the transition landscape pictures? Just a free app to scale it for double the resolution
So helpful out of all the videos I’ve e watched!
nice, thanks!
I’m not getting the white bars? There showing up black?
PhotoJoseph tried on both light and dark mode and it still gives me black bars, only way I’ve been able to get white bars is by putting a full white layer behind the image PS
weird. I wonder if something changed in IG; I haven't been posting lately. Where exactly are you seeing the black bars instead of white? Give me a time stamp of my video so I know we're talking about the same thing and I'll check it out.
@PhotoJoseph At 12.31, when you export that full-size image - I guess Fred is having the same problem as I just commented about 5 mins ago... All backgrounds are white during the posting procedure, but the final post (uploaded), shows the full-size image with a black background - and that looks awful (and I'm not I Dark Mode in IG)
PhotoJoseph iOS photos app is now converting transparent backgrounds into black instead of white !!
i had the exact same problem!
Why’s this guy trying so hard to seem younger lol
but I'm only 21…
So u can't just do it in the Instagram app?!?!??!
what a stuuupid app! Fantastic video btw.... u won't believe how hard i'm struggling to just find how to change a photo's size, so i can fit my landscape (screen-shot for YT vids in my case) image onto Instagram! It's ridiculous! 👍 'd ur vid
#OldManPaxus Rating: ★★★ ½
Is android that different from iphone? I can't "open in" to go directly to photoshop mix nor do I have the option to do a custom crop.
Others have said that in the comments. Apparently android doesn’t have as many features 😢
Same here
Is there any other app having same features for android phones
Thanks for the video, Joseph! Great content!
Cheers for this, I have been researching "landscaping country style homes" for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you ever come across - Giyily Landscaping Yatty - (do a search on google ) ? Ive heard some amazing things about it and my neighbour got amazing results with it.
Hi, If you're into android, check out this app called Panoslice, solves this pretty much
Thank you! It's a soild tutorial. I really love this tutorial and was so excited following it then I found out that the android version of Photoshop Mix does NOT have custom canvas size option. T.T I would really love to know if there's any app that does for android.
@PhotoJoseph I never thought "resizing canvas size via typing in numbers" would be so rare. :)
Thanks for the complement, and yeah I know what you mean… it’s odd that it’s not a common feature!! Have you tried Snapseed?
@PhotoJoseph Yes Snapseed has been my main editor for a couple of years and I don't think it has it. I guess I'll stick to PS Express for now for it gets the job done somehow. :)
Good luck!
Nicely explained Sir 👌👍
Thanks 🙏🏻!
Thats neat
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