How to schedule Instagram posts to be published later

We all love Instagram, but sometimes life gets in the way and you just don’t have time to post regularly. Fortunately, Instagram rolled out the ability to schedule posts in advance using third-party apps.  

If you haven’t taken advantage of an Instagram scheduler yet, it’s a game changer. And if used correctly, it will increase your engagement. Here’s how to schedule Instagram posts so you can set them and forget them.

Can you schedule Instagram posts?

Instagram users have been waiting for scheduling functionality for a long time, but while it’s possible to use a third-party Instagram automation tool, you currently can’t schedule posts within the Instagram app.

However, Instagram’s API does allow third-party developers to integrate with Instagram to schedule posts for you. There are numerous apps available that enable you to schedule Instagram posts, and while their function is similar, there are some differences.

Many third-party apps let you schedule Instagram posts a month in advance, which means taking and editing lots of photos. An iPhone app like Gemini Photos will find and delete similar shots to save you storage.

Download on the App Store

How to schedule Instagram posts for free

There are numerous third-party Instagram posting apps, but very few that allow you to schedule Instagram posts for free. The two most popular free Instagram schedulers are Preview and Later, both offering limited functionality with their free plans.

Here’s an overview of both of them, so you can choose the one that fits your needs.

Automate Instagram posts with Preview

Preview is an Instagram scheduling app with free and paid plans available. It allows you to upload unlimited photos, rearrange your posts to create the perfect Insta feed, and schedule those posts weeks, or even months in advance. Here’s how to schedule Instagram posts using the Preview app:

  1. Install and open the app and log in using your Instagram credentials.
  2. A view of your Instagram Feed will appear on the screen. Tap the + in the upper right to create a post.
  3. Choose from :
    • Photos/Videos to post a photo or video from your Camera Roll.
    • Carousel to post multiple photos or videos from your Camera Roll.
    • Repost to repost someone else's photo (only with permission and only with paid accounts).
    • Free Photos to use stock photos to populate your Instagram feed.
    • Take Photo to open your Camera app and take a photo.
    • Take Video to open your Camera app and take a video.
  4. Once you choose an option, your post will be uploaded to the preview of your Instagram feed. You can upload as many posts as you want and then rearrange them by dragging and dropping them.
  5. Tap on a photo and use the menu at the bottom of the screen to add filters (the segmented circle icon), captions, and hashtags (the speech bubble icon).
  6. In the caption section, you will be able to search for hashtags, save them in groups, and add them to your caption.
  7. Finally, tap Schedule and choose a date and time to post your content.

That’s it! Repeat for as many photos and videos as you need to schedule.

The limitations of the free Instagram scheduler in Preview

For the most part, Preview is really intuitive and the free plan works well. It only includes the ability to post to one account, so if you manage multiple accounts, you may have to splurge on the pro ($7.99 a month) or premium ($14.99 a month) version.

The free Preview plan comes with two filter packs and basic analytics, but it doesn’t let you use the Repost feature that is available with paid plans. Also, Preview does not have browser functionality. It only works with smartphones and tablets.

Download Preview on App Store

Schedule Instagram posts with Later’s free plan

Later is another scheduling app that works with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. It allows you to schedule 30 posts per month using your desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. Here’s how to use Later’s free Instagram automation tool:

  1. Install and open the Later app and log in using your Instagram credentials.
  2. Tap the + sign in the lower right-hand corner to upload media. A notification will ask you if you want to go to your Photo Library or Take Photo or Video, which will open your Camera app.
  3. Choose a photo and tap Done.
  4. Tap on the photo you want to schedule, and then tap Create Post.
  5. Choose your account and type in your caption.
  6. Tap Next.
  7. Tap Post Now or Pick a Time.

If you have a personal Instagram account, you’ll receive a mobile notification when it’s time to publish your post, but you will still have to manually publish on Instagram. If you have a business account on Instagram, you can set up auto-publishing of single image and video posts. All you have to do is connect your Instagram business account, and you’ll automatically be able to choose a time and date for your post.

One of the benefits to using Later as your Instagram scheduler is that you can schedule from your computer, which is helpful if you take photos with a DSLR and edit them on desktop.

The free Later plan doesn’t allow for carousel posts, video scheduling, or location and account tagging.  Premium plans start at $9 per month, with the highest tier (for marketing teams and agencies) costing $49 per month.

Limitations of Later for Instagram

The scheduling feature is really convenient if you’ve already converted your Instagram to a business account. If you want to use it for a personal account, you’ll be able to schedule your post and get a reminder, but you’ll still have to go and post it yourself.

Download Later on the App Store

The best paid Instagram schedulers

If the free versions of Later or Preview don’t provide enough functionality for your needs, consider a paid Instagram scheduler. Here’s an overview of the best Instagram-approved automation tools and what they’re best used for.

Tailwind for Instagram

Tailwind started as a Pinterest scheduling tool, but started working with Instagram as soon as they rolled out the ability to schedule posts in advance. The free trial includes the ability to schedule a total of 30 posts before you have to moveto the paid plan, which starts at $9.99 per month. You must have an Instagram business account to schedule posts on Tailwind.

Tailwind works on desktop or as an iOS mobile app. There’s no Android app yet. It has a couple of cool features, like the hashtag finder, which suggests relevant hashtags for your posts, and the auto scheduler, which schedules your content at the best time for your audience.

Tailwind is best for people who are also using Pinterest, as you can schedule your Instagram posts as pins for more visibility.

Download Tailwind on the App Store

Hopper HQ for Instagram

Hopper HQ is another Instagram scheduler that works on both desktop and mobile, as well as across multiple accounts. The interface is beautifully designed and allows you to drag and drop posts until you have the feed you want, a calendar you can view by week or by month, and the ability to save posts as drafts.

The intuitive post creator allows you to upload photos from Google Photos, Flickr, Facebook, and Dropbox. It also supports mentions, location tags, and hashtags, and even gives you access to the first comment if that’s where you usually put your hashtags.

You can try Hopper HQ for 14 days. After that, it’s $19 a month ($16 if you pay annually). Hopper HQ is great for people who manage more than one Instagram account.

Download Hopper HQ on the App Store

Onlypult for Instagram

Onlypult is an intuitive Instagram scheduler that works with multiple accounts on desktop. It also works well for a team who are managing multiple accounts, because it lets you add users without sharing Instagram passwords.

You can add photos and videos from your computer or from a URL. Filters and editing software is included, and you can use the planner tool for precise calendar planning. A Repost feature lets you share other people’s content with credit, and you can also track competitors to see how their content and engagement measures up to yours.

Onlypult comes with a free seven-day trial. After that, plans start at $10.50 per month. The pro plan is $55.30 a month and lets you manage up to 40 different accounts with five team members.

Check out the Onlypult website

What does “Instagram will auto post when possible” mean?

Have you ever received this dreaded message when trying to post to Instagram?  The “Instagram will auto post when possible” error message is a blanket message that occurs when something is preventing your post from uploading. This could be an error on Instagram’s side, like when a server goes down, or it could be something on your end.

To find out more about the error, there are a few things you can try. First, check Down Detector to see if Instagram is experiencing technical issues. If it is, you’ll simply have to wait it out.

If Instagram appears to be working properly, here are a few things you can try to see if the error resolves:

  • Make sure you have a good internet connection. Restart your router if necessary.
  • Close Instagram and restart your device.
  • Check for Instagram app updates on your phone.
  • Try uploading your post as a smaller file.
  • Delete all hashtags and @mentions from your post.
  • Try posting on a different device.
  • Finally, as a last resort, uninstall and reinstall the Instagram app. All of your data will be saved.

Ready to take a break from Instagram and your phone? With an Instagram scheduling app, you can plan a ton of posts in advance and enjoy a week or month completely off the grid.

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