How to change your name on Instagram, and is it OK to do so?

On social media, you don’t have to be stuck with the name your parents gave you. While you likely opened this article to learn how to change Instagram name, you’re probably also wondering if doing so impacts your account in any way. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about changing your name on Instagram, including how to avoid any potential negative implications like losing followers or lowering your engagement. 

Can you change your Instagram name? 

Instagram does allow you to easily change your name within the app whenever you want. However, there are a few things within the social media app’s account settings that you need to know first. 

Instagram essentially has two ways of identifying you and your account: your username and your display name. Your username is what you create when you first set up your Instagram account. You can find it displayed over every post you make, every comment you leave, every like you give, and every direct message you send. It can also be seen at the top center of your profile.

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While you can choose a new username at any time, it has to be unique to you. That means that no one else on Instagram can have the same username as you. If you try to use a username that’s already in use, Instagram will notify you that it’s already been taken. 

You won’t be able to save any changes you make to your username until your chosen name is unique. And unfortunately, you can't use symbols to help make it unique. At this time, Instagram doesn’t allow you to use symbols in your username. You can only use letters, numbers, underscores, and periods. 

Your display name, however, is not unique to you. It’s displayed at the top right of your profile and can be changed to anything at any time. Multiple accounts can have identical display names at the same time. You can have symbols and even emojis in your display name. 

It’s also important to note that other people can find your account by searching for your username or your display name. When someone searches for your account, your profile pops up with your username on top and your display name underneath it. 

Changing your display name on Instagram will not affect your account at all, so if you feel like testing out a new name, updating your display name is a great way to experiment. 

However, changing your username on Instagram could have some negative impacts, so there’s a good reason to be hesitant. We’ll go over this in more depth in the following section. 

What happens when you change your Instagram username?

If you’re still on the fence about changing your Instagram name, it might be the fear of the unknown that’s holding you back. What really happens to your profile — and your followers — when you change your Instagram username?

When you change your username, the profile you have been promoting and linking to will essentially be gone. Every tagged post, comment, or like from your old username will lead to a profile that reads User Not Found.

Your username is also included your profile’s URL. So if you’re searching for your profile on your desktop, it won’t come up. Instead of seeing your profile, you’ll be taken to a page that reads, “Sorry, this page isn't available. The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.”

If you’ve linked to your Instagram profile in a blog post, email signature, or website, you’ll need to update each of those links after you’ve changed your username. 

If all of this information gives you cold feet, it might help to know that there is a chance to reverse the change. After you update your username, Instagram gives you 14 days to change it back, as long as: 

  • It hasn’t been taken by a new Instagram account. 
  • It hasn’t been recently removed from an active account that you don’t own. 

Is it bad to change your Instagram name?

While Instagram hasn’t acknowledged or reported any adverse effects on accounts that change their usernames, some users have reported some not-so-great side effects. 

Some Instagram users have reported losing followers and engagement after changing their usernames. The reason for this could be that when people go to search for your username — which they’ve associated with your account for the entirety of the time they’ve followed you — they’ll get an alert that reads User Not Found. That could, in theory, cause the person to unfollow your account because they no longer think you are active. 

There is a way to prevent this, however. If you give your followers a heads up that you’re about to change your username, they’ll be more likely to continue following you because they still know how to find you. 

Another reason why changing your username might not be a great idea is that it might take a few weeks for search engines like Google to recognize your new account name. That in itself could cause you to lose some engagement on your profile. 

How to change your name on Instagram

If, despite all those risks, you’re still looking to change your name on Instagram, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s relatively easy to do. And remember: if you do experience any loss in followers or lower engagement rates after you change your username, you still have 14 days to change it back. 

Here’s how to change your username on Instagram: 

  1. Go to your profile. 
  2. Press on the Edit Profile button underneath your profile picture. 
  3. Press on your username. 
  4. Press the X button on the far right to clear your old username, then type in your new username.
  5. Press the Done option in the top right corner. 

If you’re not yet ready to take the dive and change your Instagram username, try experimenting with a new display name first. 

Here’s how to change your display name on Instagram: 

  1. Go to your profile. 
  2. Press the Edit Profile button underneath your profile picture. 
  3. Press on your name. 
  4. Press the X button on the far right to clear your name. 
  5. Type in your new name. 
  6. Press the Done option in the top right corner. 

Why is there a lock next to my name on Instagram?

If you’ve gone into your settings to experiment with changing your username or display name, you might have noticed a lock icon next to your username. All that means is that your account is currently set to private, and only people who you approve to follow you can see your content, according to Instagram. 

If you change your profile to a public account, that lock symbol will go away. Here’s how to change your privacy settings. 

  1. Go to your profile. 
  2. Press on the button with three lines at the top right of the screen. 
  3. Press the Settings option, 
  4. Press the Privacy option. 
  5. Press the Account Privacy option. 
  6. Press the toggle next to Private Account.

While changing your name on Instagram sounds like a fun way to switch up your social media presence, remember that there could be negative implications for doing so. Try changing your display name first, and if you do decide to follow through with a new username, give your followers a heads up. 


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