How To Post From Desktop To Instagram and Stay Out of Hot Water

If you are one of the thousands of people that would LOVE to post from Desktop to Instagram, listen up. 

There are ways to do it easily (one of them might shock you!), while keeping Instagram happy. 

Nobody wants to get in Hot Water with Instagram!  Use these tools and you’ll be sorted!  

How to Post from Desktop to Instagram and Stay out of Hot Water

Firstly, one of the tools I have to share with you below might just Blow Your Mind.  It’s the secret way you can post from Desktop to Instagram…. without any 3rd party tool!

Not. Even. Joking.

Secondly, there are reasons why you need to be choosy about the tools you use to post to Instagram, and here’s why:

Don’t Do This on Instagram (Seriously, Don’t!).

Instagram has strict terms of service about how you post to the app.

This means that Instagram’s API is highly prohibitive to certain actions including auto-posting and posting directly from desktop computers or laptops.

Any tool that gets around the API puts you (and your employer or client or business) at risk of being shut down.

You can read more about why tools can’t post directly to Instagram here.

If a tool claims that it can

  • post automatically by emulating a mobile phone without pressing any buttons OR
  • post directly to Instagram from a desktop (by emulating Instagram in some way)

then it’s possible you are contravening Instagram’s Terms and Conditions.

Don’t do that. Your account may be shut down.

There are only two methods that I recommend if you want to post from Desktop to Instagram:

  1. Posting legitimately from your computer – laptop or desktop.   Until now has not been possible. But now it is!  You just need to have the right device, which I will show you below.
  2. Setting up your post using a 3rd party tool on your laptop or desktop and then receiving a reminder to post the final image and description from your phone.

Below are the tools I use to post to Instagram from a Desktop.  I’ll also share how I follow up to engage with comments.


How Do You Post from Desktop to Instagram

1  Use a Microsoft Surface Device to Post from Desktop to Instagram

This is huge.  It’s the secret way that you can post from a laptop to Instagram without ANY 3rd party tools.

It’s Instagram, pure and simple, just like on a mobile…only on your Surface Device.

In 2016, I switched to using a Surface Pro 4 laptop from my MacBook Air, and this where the magic happens.

On a Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book (or even, I believe, the Surface Studio Desktop) you can post natively to Instagram using the Microsoft Instagram App on Windows 10.

Completely legit!  You’re using an official INSTAGRAM App so there is no third party tool or hack required to get this to work.

Other than the device, which is key.


Here’s how it works:

You simply open the Instagram App and that’s it.  Use it just like Instagram (seriously, it’s almost that simple!).

But yes, there are a few things to know:

Open the Instagram App on your Surface Device - How To Post From Desktop To Instagram and Stay Out of Hot Water


It only works on Microsoft devices running Windows 10 with a touch screen.

Boom!  The Surface devices (yes, laptops and desktops) have touch screens.

Is your mind blown yet?  

Now, before I show you “how” to post from desktop to Instagram,  full disclosure that I am a Surface Ambassador. It had been about 6 years since I had used a PC when I agreed to test out the Surface Pro 4 for Microsoft.   I can say that a great deal of thought and consideration occurred before changing operating systems and devices.

One of the deciding factors for me was that Microsoft Surface devices have a touch screen.  Little did I know that the Surface touch screen was going to bring this Instagram “hack” into my life.

(Note:  It’s not really a hack.  It’s a real thing).

The user interface that you see has everything you normally see on your Instagram Mobile app – from Instagram Stories to your camera (front and back facing) to your messages, notifications, comments and likes.

This is what I see when I open the app (just like on my mobile phone!).

The Instagram App on the Surface Device has all the features of your mobile app - How To Post From Desktop To Instagram and Stay Out of Hot Water

You can do everything you would normally do on your mobile phone:

  • Watch and record Instagram Stories, add text, draw on the screen and add stickers
  • Comment, like and follow
  • Search
  • Check, send and comment on messages
  • Upload photos and post to Instagram …… whaaaaaaaaaaat???

The Instagram App on a Surface Device will allow you to click on the camera icon to use your device’s inbuilt camera. You can also click on “Your Stories” to start an Instagram Story with pictures or video.

Just like this:

Instagram Stories on Surface Pro

or if you like it better in reverse, go face-to-camera:

Face to Camera on Instagram Stories on Surface Pro

And… ta dah… you can use your existing images from your saved images or camera uploads!

This is huge for those Instagrammers that want to take photos with an DSLR Camera or something other than a mobile phone (or do bulk uploads.

It’s also great if you want to have more control over photo editing before uploading to Instagram.

There is just one thing to remember:  You can upload previously taken photos but they need to be stored in your Pictures >> Camera Roll folder. 

Which works perfectly if you are uploading from a camera or external device.

You just need to click on the + button at the bottom of your screen and you’ll come to the usual screen with active camera, and an option for Library, Photo or Video.

Choose between Library, Photo or Video on Instagram to get content


After that, it’s just a matter of either taking a photo, making a video or choosing a photo to upload.   If it’s a photo you are after, you simply upload it your Camera Roll via the Library (or Pictures or Screenshots).

Choose a photo from your Camera Uploads, Screenshots or Pictures


You can also add filters or edit your images as you normally would on a mobile phone:

Edit features on Instagram App using Surface Pro

Cool, hey? 

As far as I know this is the first time Instagram has let the app work, fully-featured, in a way that allows you to post from desktop to Instagram.

If you are in the market for a laptop AND you are an avid Instagram user or photographer who needs to upload a lot of photos… I’m thinking the Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface Book is looking pretty sweet right now, don’t you?

Or maybe you’re like one of the readers of this post already who owns a Surface device and didn’t know.  I bet you’re currently sitting there, thinking whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????


2   Schedule Your Posts with Later

I love to use the native Instagram app to post images spontaneously (and I’m excited now that I can use it on my Surface Pro laptop).

But when it comes to productivity, it’s great to schedule ahead and batch my images.  That’s where Later comes in.

Later is the tool I use for scheduling my images and videos ahead of time.

Once scheduled, Later sends me a reminder on my phone to post to Instagram. You can get started with a free account.

Here’s an overview how it works from the Later team:


As you can see Later has some cool features, and more being added all the time.  Here’s just a few of the things that I love about Later:

  • Plan, Schedule and Publish – You can schedule and post to multiple Instagram accounts (with a reminder to post the final image from your phone).  It’s calendar-based with a grid preview tool to plan out your posts and you can schedule videos in the paid version. Later also posts directly to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Store and Organize your Media – You can organise your images in a media library with bulk image upload and the ability to organise your images with groups and labels.
  • “Link in Bio” –  I use this feature to send people to a special landing page where followers can click on any image and go to whatever link you allocate.  No more invalid links.  This makes Instagram clickable and shoppable.
  • Analytics and Team Members – You can add team members,  and Later’s Analytics help you to understand the success of your images or campaigns.
  • Bulk post features –  this gives you drag and drop functionality so you can add images to pre-determined time-slots that you know will attract engagement.
  • Saved Hashtag Groups – save your best hashtags to use easily for any post – in a single click you have all the hashtags you need!  This is a time saver and one of my favourite parts of Later.

All in all, Later is one of the best tools for Instagram scheduling that allows you to (essentially) post from desktop to Instagram.

Even though you need to press a couple of buttons on your phone to post the final image, Later allows you to do most of your work on a desktop or laptop.

And in Part 3, I’ll explain why I actually LIKE using my phone for the final posting process….



3  Don’t Forget to Engage

There’s a big reason why I like posting “live” or using Later to post my scheduled images (with a quick click of a button or two).

Most of your comments and likes will come up in the minutes immediately after you post. If you are using a tool that auto-schedules, you still have to remember to be there to respond.  When you use Later, you’re ready and waiting for comments just after you post the image.

Again, I do NOT recommend that you use any tool that contravenes Instagram’s terms.  Any tool that does the whole process including posting – puts your account at risk. 

To engage with my community on posts, I will either respond live or use the tool Agorapulse after the fact.  Agorapulse is my go-to tool for social media management and responding to comments.

Use Agorapulse to Engage on Instagram
Never miss an Instagram comment again with Agorapulse!


The advantage of Agorapulse is that it allows you to view more than the minimum 50 comments you see on Instagram.

So, if your comments move fast or you have a big account and usually get hundreds of comments, Agorapulse can be a lifesaver.

Be sure to check out Agorapulse as a way to manage your Instagram feed in your own time – and never miss a comment again!


Other Tools that comply with Instagram:

Using my phone, laptop and Later (with Agorapulse to engage) is my current workflow.

However there are a few tools you might consider that also post from desktop to Instagram (with notification to do the final post).  All use a similar method to Later:


Agorapulse also allows you to plan your content ahead of time and click to post on your phone when you are ready.  If you are looking for a great all-round tool for scheduling, posting and engagement, Agorapulse would be my pick.


Viraltag is a complete Visual Content management tool.  When it comes to Instagram it works the same way as the other tools. Viraltag will allow you to schedule an Instagram post and when it is time to post, you will be sent a notification on your phone with your Instagram photo and caption.  All you have to do is swipe and post to Instagram.


I have not used Hootsuite for some time but it’s a popular tool, used by many social media marketers. Hootsuite also posts to Instagram using the the process of schedule => reminder to post on mobile.  If you are a Hootsuite user then definitely consider using it to post from desktop to Instagram.

Access Your Photos

Other than these tools, you really are left with the following labour-intensive options:

  • email photos to yourself on your phone then post to Instagram. This can become cumbersome if they are high res photos!
  • send photos to a Dropbox account – Dropbox is a great way to access your files from any device via the cloud.
  •  use your shared photos program in the cloud, to share between computers and your phone.

Or… if you are lucky to have a Surface Device, use Instagram just as you would on a phone, but on your laptop!

Over to You

How do you post to Instagram?  Will you be checking out any of these tools to post from Desktop to Instagram?  

Leave a comment below!  

How to Post from Desktop to Instagram and Stay Out of Hot Water

The following two tabs change content below.

Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is the founder of Socially Sorted, winner of Best Business Blog in Australia 2014 and a Top 10 Social Media Blog for Social Media Examiner, 2015-2017. She helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
  • Jen Butler

    Hi, Donna! Jen here from Agorapulse, thank you so much for mentioning us in this very well written post! Great content! 🙂

    • No problems Jen – always happy to shout out about Agorapulse. If I was not using a lot of the other Later features I would totally use Agorapulse for my Insta and it’s such an awesome addition to the tool along with posting to other platforms, and engagement – makes it so much easier for people who have to restrict the number of tools they use to choose it. No brainer! (There’s a full post about Agorapulse coming soon… just teasing you).

  • Hey Donna — of course I’m psyched that you mentioned Agorapulse — but as a fiercely loyal Surface Book user, I thank you a million times for that non-hack-hack! I just downloaded the app from the Microsoft store! Cheers from Boston 🙂

    • SOOOOO good hey? I was using my Surface for a few months before I realised it worked that way. It was a big jump for this Apple girl to switch back again to the Surface and I am so glad I did. Now I just shake my head and wonder why all laptops are not touch screen! haha. Enjoy your new found “ease”. I think it will be huge for photographers who have to edit photos for instagram…. and yes, always happy to share the love for Agorapulse.

  • Terry Green

    This is great information. I used Hootsuite forever, and then started using Grum. However, Grum posts directly to Instagram, and evidently it’s still a big no-no. But no worries, I use CoSchedule for everything now, and they include Instagram in their list of social media platforms. They have an app like Hootsuite, and have the same process that pings you so you can go in and post to Instagram per their policy. Yes, I have to have my phone with me so I get the ping, but it takes all of 30 seconds to do, so I’m good with the process. Thanks Donna!

    • so have you moved away from hootsuite …….. the only thing I would like is the ability to respond to comments in the analytics section other than that it seems to be still a good one stop shop for posting and analytics.

    • Hey Terry – that’s great to know about Co Schedule – I will check them out and add them to the other options at the bottom of the post. I did use Hootsuite for a while then switched to Sprout Social then Agorapulse as I just prefer a linear inbox (all the columns were hard to keep up with… it’s just how I liked to work) but I love Agorapulse for just about most of my social media management now. I just find that Later has a few features that I can’t give up for Instagram like bulk uploading, stored hashtags (such a time saver) and the link in bio to name a few. I agree with you – the ping only takes a few seconds to post and it’s worth it to be ready to respond. Glad to hear you found a system that works for you!

  • Whoa! You just blew my mind, Donna. I NEED A SURFACE PRO IN MY LIFE. I really would’ve never considered switching from my MacBook but this is awesome. I’m going to look into this.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • haha no pressure, but seriously it’s a great device and I just can’t work out why Apple didn’t keep progressing into touch screens… it makes no sense. I was excited for their next evolution and couldn’t quite work out why it was a touch bar.

      I was very much a Mac girl for many years, always appreciated Microsoft as used it for years too before switching to Mac…. But I have to say, I am really liking the Surface and it’s not a huge switch between the two. I also was shown all the things you can do with the pen technology and you would not believe how productive it can be to just write on the screen at times. I use it a lot and it’s so intuitive with my messy handwriting – the pen to type function is amazing. I’m looking forward to travelling with the Surface to the States in March. I won’t drop my iphone just yet because I need at least one Apple device when writing about visual content as so many apps are on the iPhone and not Android… but if someone could give me the Surface Studio I would be a VERY happy girl. This makes me drool haha:

  • I use a laptop that’s touch-enabled and has Windows 10 installed, but it’s not a Surface. Will maybe put that on my laptop wishlist. I love Later for scheduling; it’s so easy to use. Will have to give Agorapulse a try. Will it work as a replacement for Hootsuite and Buffer?

    • Yes definitely check out the Surface when you are due for another laptop… they seem to be getting better and better with their technology and more great apps being produced all the time. I will still use my phone for live posting as well as using Later (they have some great features and I am sure you agree the saved hashtags are a huge time saver!) but I love being able to use the laptop for uploading photos etc. I would guess for a photographer who uses a DSLR on Instagram it would be amazing!

      Agorapulse is a good all rounder. You can read about it more in detail here. – it has an evergreen queue for content that probably works a little different to Buffer but you could try it out and see how it goes. I find that one of the big things I use Agorapulse for other than the posting is definitely the engagement – I truly get to inbox zero on there and I love their spam filters etc for things like Twitter DMs. But it’s all in the post above so hopefully that helps. Have a great weekend!

  • Abegail Smith

    Great post! Very helpful, keep on sharing!

  • Christine Potter

    Thank you for this information, Donna!
    I’ve been using Gramblr and don’t really like it. I have a Surface. The only reason why I
    have one is because Microsoft likes our LAZY-HANDS Grips products but I
    only showed them on the iPad…so I had to get some skin in the game a
    few years ago and get a Surface so I could do product demo photos with
    the Surface. I have barely used it and the most time I ever spend on it is when i have to do updates, etc. Now there is good reason to use it! Instagram.

    • Hey Christine – glad to hear you have a Surface laying around – it’s worth playing with more for sure. I am always hesitant with tools like Gramblr anyway as they skirt around Instagram’s guidelines and as you can see on the article above from Agorapulse’s blog, it’s a risk that many of us are not willing to take. But at least there are other options and if you’ve got a Surface then you’re one of the lucky ones!

  • Mauro Calbi

    I did post with Gramblr on Instagram from pc. Do you think it’s not a good idea?

    • Hi Mauro – ultimately it’s up to you, but given so many people follow my advice, I can’t, in good conscience recommend any tool that goes outside of Instagram’s terms of service. There’s always a risk that they may shut accounts down and they have for similar things in the past. This article by Agorapulse below explains it best. My best advice is to read the article and assess your own risk. If it is just your account and you don’t mind some element of risk then that’s up to you… but if you are handling someone else’s account like an employer or a client, then I would be very wary of doing anything (however minimal the risk is) that puts them at risk of having their account penalised by Instagram. I hope that makes sense – I hate to be the party pooper and I quite honestly wish Instagram would open things up a bit more to make it easier, but I get that they want to keep it as native content on mobile. Here’s the article:

      • Mauro Calbi

        I do agree with you… but I didn’t know about this.

        • It’s definitely hard to keep up with everything. Let’s just hope that Instagram relaxes the rules sometime soon! It would make it easier!

  • deborahhartserafini

    I use Buffer and get a reminder. But I just got a Surface Pro and this is so cool! As always, you are keeping us informed!

    • You’re very welcome… and I am sure you will LOVE the flexibility of the Surface Pro (and the Instagram Ninja functions!).

  • Linda Zupancic

    Thankyou Donna, I do have a touch screen so Im going to try this, woo hoo! Awesome content

    • Oh awesome – so glad it helped. Do you have a Surface Pro or a different device. Regardless, I am sure you will find it to be much easier!

  • Jennifer Thayer Knight

    Great post. What do you do when you have more than 6 clients that want you to run their Instagram accounts? When I try to log out of accounts to log into others it automatically logs back in to the original accounts. I started using GRUM so that I can post to all of the accounts but I don’t want to get them all shut down. Do you have suggestions?

    • Hi Jennifer – unfortunately, I believe, you can only manage up to 5 accounts on one login. So you would have to use a different device as well as different accounts. Most people I know who do that carry an extra iphone or ipod etc – it’s not ideal but it seems to be the only way around.

      As for tools, I would only recommend Instagram partner tools and/or at least those that do NOT autopost or autoschedule…. Instagram is starting to crack down more on tools, so I just won’t recommend any tools like Grum, especially if you are posting for clients. I would hate for a client’s account to get shut down even more than my own. Anything that “gets around” Instagram’s API, in my opinion, is a red flag. I use Later to schedule but Tailwind is good, as well as Agorapulse. They all require a quick push of a couple of buttons once you get the alert, but i like to post and then check for engagement anyway. I know that’s not ideal and in a perfect world people want full automation but it works for me.

      • Jennifer Thayer Knight

        Thank you so much.

        • Cheers – I wish they would make it easier for us though haha

  • Apoorva Srikkanth

    Hi Donna – We’re a little late, but thanks for the mention! Really appreciate it 🙂 I think we’re all waiting for Instagram to open up their API so we can work on complete automation!
    – Apoorva (Customer Success & Marketing @ Viraltag)

    • No problems Apoorva! It’s great that you have that feature along with everything else – makes ViralTag a great tool option for achieving more than one thing! I agree on the API though I don’t actually mind push-to-post as I am ready to engage … otherwise if someone else posts for me I forget! haha

      • Apoorva Srikkanth

        Ah that’s true! We’re right where we need to be for now, in that case 😀 Haha.

  • Lilly Adams

    Hi! Nice article, but I have one question. Why not to use online services for uploading pics from PC on insta? I upload and schedule photos thanks to . What do you think?

    • Hi Lilly – I’d say be careful. If the tool auto-schedules (and it appears that it does but I could be wrong) then you are circumventing Instagram’s terms of service. They have started shutting down apps and tools that don’t comply so personally I wouldn’t risk my account and especially not a client account. Which is why I don’t recommend any tools that autoschedule in this post – all of these are push to post. You can schedule but you have to do the final posting manually with a couple of clicks after you get a reminder. As for loading from desktop – it also depends on whether the tools you use are working within Instagrams terms of service. I just won’t recommennd anything outside of that on this blog as it’s not worth the risk for my readers. Hope that makes sense (it’s pretty much what I have said in this article).

      • Lilly Adams

        Wow, that is very interesting. I’ve never thought about it! And Thanks that you told me about it!

      • Lilly Adams

        That is something new! I did’n know about that! thanks

  • Wendy Cain

    Ive been using Gramblr for well over a year

    • With Love

      So you never got shut down?

      • Hey there – this post is going to updated as Instagram now has auto posting for approved partners. However it now means that any tool that is skirting around the newly released API is even more at risk, especially those that are claiming to auto-post like Schedugram. I would ebb on the side of caution however the best thing you can do is contact your tool company, ask them if they intend to apply to be an Instagram partner and do your due diligence. I would be very wary of using tools that get around the API in some way especially for client accounts. I do recommend that you use approve partners moving forward, however, or at least those that don’t require passwords and logins to post.

        • With Love

          Thanks, i might go to use Zoho Social then, because they’re linked up to Instagram and I’ve just started using their tools. The company is too big to not be working legitimately with Instagram. Thanks for your concern Donna. I still don’t understand why keeping it just on the mobile makes it any better, silly restrictions if you ask me. I find using a mobile for things like this very fidgety and time wasting, easier for the younger ones. Especially if you have things on your computer you want to upload, it really doesn’t make sense. maybe it’s a money spinner thing with them….

          • Here’s the list of Instagram partners. I don’t think they are on it but you could ask them if they have applied! – I hear you on the mobile thing. I think originally it was about capturing your day hence mobile. It’s the marketers that want to be across platforms that want to change it but the users love being on mobile, so I think they look after the user first.

          • With Love

            Thanks Donna, I’ll check the link. Yep, I hate fiddling with the mobile, back in 1997 it was fun but now i find mobiles such a pain and intrusive at the best of times. I understand the ‘capturing the day’ thing, but if you look at all the IG accounts you can’t tell me they’re all captured on the mobile, nup. I actually have a friend who does art and she has to go through several procedures to get her images on IG….and I thought technology was supposed to be easier to use now. Hopefully IG changes their T&C.

          • With Love

            You’re right, Zoho is not on their 🙁 will need to talk to them then. Interesting, but with all their T&C, there are quite a few automated not systems out there that people are using, so i wonder how that works. I didn’t even know other services like Gramblr were a no-no until i read your article. There’s all these other apps too like as you mentioned Argorapulse [expensive], Later, Buffer, Hootsuite and so on, so where do they draw the line on what you can and can’t use??? Social media shouldn’t be complicated ….

          • I think the key is choosing one and running with it – that’s exactly why I like Agorapulse as it has multiple functions and you don’t need to have tons of tools as it covers engagement, posting, scheduling. Most of my clients say that it saves them money as they don’t have an Instagram Tool + a social media engagement tool + a publishing tool and a listening tool. But it depends on what you need. For many sole operators, a single tool like Buffer or the free version of Hootsuite is enough. Like I said I don’t know for sure that the non-partner tools that auto schedule will be shut down… but I just won’t recommend them as they are operating outside of Instagram’s terms and I have to be careful about recommending anything that could cause a potential risk to a reader. Hopefully they will open their API up to all tools soon so it’s not an issue! Have a great weekend.

          • With Love

            I see where you’re coming from and appreciate your post and replies. Hopefully Zoho will clear that up for me too. It does scheduling and everything too. BTW- is there a way of posting hashtags straight after a post? Say for example, you schedule a week’s posts [7 days] but want the hashtags placed in comments, any way of automating that? Sorry, my last question….

          • With Love

            Aha! Just thought….maybe Zapier 🙂

            have a good weekend! 🙂

          • I’m not aware of any, and really, it’s wise to visit your post just after you post it to reply to engage so I’d just do it then! Automation works to a point on instagram but you still really have to visit and engage.

        • With Love

          So much who-har about this API business, glad facebook shut theirs down in Dec 2017.

          • not sure what you mean? There’s certainly a ton of tools working with their API currently so I don’t think they have shut it down….

          • With Love

            Lol, sorry…now I look the fool, I am really not familiar with this API stuff, but I read somewhere that facebook isn’t using APIs anymore, wish i could find the article. But i hear everyone talking about APIs and about being careful. I’m a designer so API’s is another language to my ears. I must do some reading up on it i guess. 🙂

          • I wouldn’t worry about it too much – I don’t understand too much bout API either and leave that stuff up to developers – all I need to know is that I can play with the magic at the other end when one tool can talk to another and do cool things!

      • Wendy Cain

        No but not sure if penalised by shadowing, is that the term? My IG seems to be working just fine. But I have stopped using now, am doing it via Tailwind which is ok by IG, I believe. I am so busy, just wing it 🙂

  • With Love

    Gee i had no idea there were these types of restrictions, how stupid. I have been using gramblr and felt the need to do so as i don’t have the time to be using my mobile, the process is too slow. But I am glad to know that I can use it via the Instagram app on Windows.