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Summary:

Have you ever wanted to filter a photo on Instagram without actually sharing it? Here’s a simple trick to do just that.

instagram logo
photo: Instagram

Instagram is great. My photos have never looked cooler. But have you ever wanted to apply some of those nifty filters to a photo without actually uploading it to Instagram and sharing it with the entire internet? Whether you’re trying to modify one of your more, ahem, risqué photographs, or simply filtering the same photo over and over again until the person in it looks like a zombie (which is something you can do!), Instagram doesn’t give you the option to save a photo without actually sharing it.

Luckily, there’s an easy workaround for this, and it’s called Airplane Mode.

Note: The photos you see here are from the iOS version of Instagram, but this tip works just as well over Android.

By activating Airplane Mode, you are deactivating Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and your phone’s cellular radios, so you won’t be able to connect to the internet, make a call, or pair any devices. This also means there is no way for Instagram to upload any of your photos to its servers.

Airplane Mode

To activate Airplane Mode on your iPhone, just tap on settings, then flip the toggle for Airplane Mode to ON. For Android phones, activating Airplane Mode varies a bit depending upon the particular device you use, but in general, all you have to do is head on over to your settings menu and make sure that Airplane mode is turned on.

Once you’ve activated Airplane Mode, open up Instagram and go about business as usual. You can apply filters to pictures that are already in your camera roll, or you can snap a new photo directly into the app.

Instagram Filter

When you’re done, tap the “Share” button. Instead of uploading to the server and appearing in your Instagram feed as usual, you’ll instead see a message at the top of your screen that says Failed.

Instagram Fail

Make sure to tap the delete button in the far right corner of the message, or the photo will upload the next time your phone has any sort of network connection.

Instagram Remove

Then, once you’ve removed all traces of the photo from your Instagram app, head on over to your camera roll, and you’ll find the filtered picture saved alongside the original.

  1. Alternatively, you can just do everything as normal (without switching off the radios) and allow the upload to Instagram.
    Then simply delete it from your Instagram feed and it will still show up in your camera roll.

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  2. Or you could use one of the many other photo editing apps designed to do exactly this.

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  3. Or what about publishing directly to WordPress (or not) which saves the file locally? Check out Pressgram, coming out soon.

    You guys use WordPress…

    :)

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  4. Between the page where you choose the filters and the share page, Instagram saves a copy of your photo.
    So you don’t need to be in Airplane mode you just use it normally until the end & then discard the photo instead of sharing it.
    The copy will still be in your Instagram Folder on the phone memory card

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    1. Andrew got the best answer. That’s exactly how I do it. In the last step before sharing I skip and the photo is actually saved. Then you can find it in the instagram folder.

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    2. That’s right!
      Just chicken out before the last step, and bam, no upload!

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      1. No it didn’t save for me even after skipping the last step. I have to do it in Airplane mode.

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  5. MaryAnne Wendt  Monday, August 12, 2013

    This step is kind of important, especially if you do choose edit a risque photo using Instagam. Perhaps a this should be bolded or *** by it? ;-) LOL!! —-> “Make sure to tap the delete button in the far right corner of the message, or the photo will upload the next time your phone has any sort of network connection.” (We wouldn’t want an accidental share to the world!)

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  6. Alex I appreciate your tutorial. This used to work for me every time. Recently, however, I updated the Instagram app and am no longer able to cheat the system. Have you any ideas on how to save the photos without sharing them? Thank you!
    -Leslie

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