How to Save Instagram Photos Without Sharing Them on Instagram


Over 100 million people around the world snap photos with Instagram on their phones now. If you like the look of Instagram filters but would rather not broadcast the photographs to the world every time you snap a picture, there’s actually a (semi-old) trick you can use to save the pics without sharing them (for iPhone users, at least): all you have to do is turn on “Airplane Mode.”

By default, Instagram requires that photographs be shared before they’re stored on your phone. The “save to phone” process only happens after you hit that “Share” button. Here’s Instagram’s rationale for the design decision:

Instagram is a fast, beautiful, and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Our service is not just a photo editing application, so iOS users do not have the ability to save filtered photos before sharing them.

The loophole is that you can have the photo save to your phone while preventing it from being beamed across the Web to Instagram’s servers. On the iPhone you can do this by simply turning off all your connections to the Web (both cellular data and WiFi). That’s what Airplane Mode does.

On your iPhone, go to “Settings” and flip “Airplane Mode” to “On”:


Now you simply use Instagram as you ordinarily would. Snap a photo, choose a filter, and then hit “Share” on the “Share Photo” page.


The share will fail since Instagram can’t connect to its servers and you’ll see a “Failed” message on your Instagram feed. Tap the delete icon to wipe any trace of your saved-but-not-shared photo:


Check your Camera Roll, and you’ll find that Instagram has saved both the original photo and the filtered version!



P.S. If you snapped your photo already before enabling Airplane Mode, don’t worry. Simply minimize your Instagram app, turn on Airplane Mode, reopen it, and then share.

  • Tor Ivan Boine

    on android you just need to cancel on the “post” screen.

  • Γιάννης

    Just turn the wifi off (and 3G too). Simple.

  • John Photography

    why not just do a screen grab?

  • Von

    Or you can do it on the computer. Search “Insta for Lightroom” or “Instant Hipster for Photoshop”. Set the layers to 25-75% opacity… it looks much better when it’s subtle.

  • Theranthrope

    Wow, talking about missing the point…
    “I want to share my photos on the web… without actually… you know… actually SHARING them.”
    PROTIP: if you don’t want people to NOT see your pictures; open a Dropbox (or equivalent) account and put them there.
    It’s like a book publisher who wants to sell copies of books to
    libraries to increase sales, but doesn’t want those libraries to lend
    out those very same books because they may prevent an potential

  • emkorec – FotóSarok

    Just as Ivan said. On Android when you get to the description/share page the photo is already saved on your phone you just need to cancel or quit and that’s it.

  • Tor Ivan Boine

    because you will loose resolution. unless you use a retina ipad og nexus 10

  • Tor Ivan Boine

    why? there are times I want to “edit” images with instagram filters without sharing them on instagram.

  • guest

    Not working. I load a pic in instagram, apply Luz and some filter, then tap Next, write a comment then tap Share. Pic appears in my Instagram feed but not in Camera Roll, and not in Instagram album. Tried reinstalling instagram, restarting iphone (4S, iOS 6.1.3). I have 2Gb free space on the phone.

  • chuck_moran

    This is a cool trick. I wish it worked for all the way through for videos … I just lost a vid I made while IG was “processing” it. Apparently it’s better not to share to FB while also trying to share to IG.

    So I did a vid test with this Airplane Mode trick and it worked well as far as saving the video, but unlike photos, IG can’t locate it on the Camera Roll so it can’t share it. It must regard it like any other non-IG shot video at that point. I also can’t share to IG from within the Camera Roll. Probably a bug that’ll get fixed.

    Thanks for this photo workaround!

  • Heather

    I understand this part, but I want to upload my pics to my instagram account (not just my instagram photo album on my android), but not show up in my feed. I need to upload 36 pics so I can then place an origrami order, but I don’t want to flood my followers’ instagram feed. Is there a way to do this?

  • Tony Cerda

    Oh wow! What a pain in the a$$! Android automatically saves a copy in your photo gallery and you don’t need to share the photo is you don’t want to.

  • Rachel

    Updated the app, this tactic no linger works.

  • JM

    for some reason this works! thanks! My phone wasn’t finding any of my photos at all till I tried this, now it has ‘refound’ them all

  • daisy

    Worked! Thank you!!!