Although similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories has functionality that is intuitive. The longtime complaint about Snapchat is that it is not intuitive. Stories on both platforms disappear after 24 hours, but that’s the end of the similarities. First, let’s go over the differences between them. Then, I’ll show you how to use Instagram Stories.

Differences Between Instagram Stories and Snapchat

Functionality Differences

  • Instagram (IG) Stories save to your Instagram gallery and/or downloaded to your phone, if you select the option with each post. Snapchat stories can only be downloaded to your phone.
  • Travelers can set Snapchat to upload video and photos in lower quality, which takes less bandwidth. This is great if you’re traveling in a place like Myanmar, or just have weak Wi-Fi signal. IG does not have this option.
  • Uploading earlier video or photos:
    • IG Stories – I’ve read this is possible, but have not seen instructions yet.
    • Snapchat: Memories has just been released. Update the app and you’ll see a small round button underneath your regular shutter button. Click on it, and watch this YouTube video for details.
  • IG Stories allows blocking of specific people in Story Settings. Even if someone follows your gallery and/or you follow them, they can be blocked from Stories. This is a great privacy setting! Anyone who has ever had a troll, stalker, or other unwanted person on their social media will appreciate this. Snapchat only has a blocking action once the person follows you. This means that you can’t prevent a known stalker from watching your media in advance of them adding you.
  • Instagram Stories has better drawing tools. There are 3 pen styles, all in many colors. And, pen width is adjustable! In Snapchat, the only option is color– no style or width options.
  • Both Instagram Stories + Snapchat have filters. However, the filters in IG Stories are only for color hue. There are not any geo-filters. If you’re familiar with SC, geo filters are those that have a logo relating to your current location or a local event.
  • Snapchat has little pictures (different than emojis) which can be re-sized separately from text. Instagram has not released information on whether these will become available in the future. The emojis on the keyboard re-size along with the text.

Communication Differences

  • IG Stories allows private text messages from no one, everyone or only people you follow. This means that people who you don’t follow and regardless of whether they follow you or not, can message you. This functionality is equivalent to your IG gallery. Anyone can message you without necessarily following you. However, in Snapchat, messages can only be received from no one, everyone, or friends. However, ‘everyone’ only includes people who follow you.
  • For responding to another person’s IG Story, your only option is text messaging. Snapchat allows viewers to respond via video or text.
  • Following new people is easier on Instagram Stories. You can easily search by username or common interest using hashtags. This also means that it is easier for others to find you. Meanwhile, Snapchat users can only be found by exact username or if they are physically near you.
  • In real life (IRL): Instagram is a useful platform for finding new friends or connecting with people when traveling. For example, when I went to Mongolia, I used Instagram to find locals and we went on photo walks together. I can’t imagine how this Snapchat could be used for finding new friends IRL.


Instagram stories does not yet have advertisements! In my opinion, this is very nice. I’m sure they will come at some point, but for the moment, I’m enjoying the ad-free environment.

Using Instagram Stories

Make a Story

Begin making your story by accessing the Story Camera. The camera feature is opened by either swiping right from your main screen or by tapping the + symbol in a circle at the top left of the screen.

You now have 2 cameras in Instagram. A Story camera, and the regular gallery camera that is opened by tapping on the camera icon at the bottom center of the screen.

Instagram Stories start video

Story camera: at top left of screen. Gallery camera: at bottom center of screen.


After Taking Your Photo or Video

Once you’ve taken a photo or video, the shutter button turns to a checkmark in a circle (see bottom center of picture).

If you’re done, tap on the checkmark to upload. If you want to add a filter, drawing, continue with these steps:

Instagram stories - video or photo taken.

Filters: On this screen, swipe right and you will find a series of 7 filters. The filters are for color hue only. You can also access the filters after adding text and drawing.

Drawing: Tap the pen icon at the top right of the screen.

Text: Tap the ‘Aa’ at the top right of the screen.


Drawing + Text


Instagram stories pen options

Pen Styles

Choose one of the 3 pen styles at the top of the screen. From left to right:

  • Similar to a felt tip pointed marker
  • Similar to a wedged marker. Also, good for a style similar to calligraphy
  • Most colors appear in a stripe, with the center stripe colored white and the 2 outside stripes the selected color. However, if you select black, you get black in the center and purple as the 2 outside stripes.

Pen Colors

Choose the pen color at the bottom of the screen. If you see a color you like, tap it once. If you want a different color, hold your finger on any color until a pop-up appears. Drag your finger to the exact color you desire and let go.

Pen Width

At the left bottom corner there is a circle with 3 dots. The circle color indicates your current color selection. Tap once on this circle, and a slider will appear above it. Move the ball on the slider up and down with your finger to adjust the pen width. Up–> Wide; Down–> Narrow.


Add text by tapping on the ‘Aa’ icon in the top right corner of the screen. A keyboard will appear. Type your text and emojis.

Next, tap anywhere on the screen outside of the keyboard.

  • Use your fingers to pinch of grow the text and emojis.
  • They can also be dragged anywhere on the screen.
  • Use 2 fingers to twist the text, if you want it non-horizontal.
Instagram stories text functionality

If you select the text option by tapping Aa, the screen darkens. Use the keyboard to type your text and emojis.


IG stories text on screen

When done typing your text, tap anywhere on the screen. Your text will appear on your picture or video.


IG stories text moving

Moving the placement of the text is done by dragging it with 1 finger.

Messaging + Privacy Settings

IG stories settings

Accessing story settings is done by tapping on the 3 dots at the bottom right corner of the screen. The arrow in the center allows you to see who has viewed your Story. It also allows specific privacy settings we’ll go over next.


IG story settings for privacy and sharing

These options appear in the Settings. From here, save the video to an IG post or to your phone. Also, access Story Settings for Privacy and Message Reply settings.


IG stories settings

Story settings include message replies and hiding stories.


IG stories hiding from people

Access this screen by swiping up from the center arrow in your story. Click the X by anyone’s name to hide your story from them.


IG stories hiding a story

This is the screen you see when you click the X on the previous screen. Confirm you want to hide your story.

Likes + Comments

Stories only allow for private direct text messages. Messaging someone can be done while watching their story. Swipe up or tap in the bottom left corner, and a keyboard will appear.

No public likes or comments are available. If you follow someone and they have messaging disabled, simply go to their gallery. There you can comment on a photo.

Consider disabling messages on your videos, if you do not want direct messages.

So much to think about! Let’s talk. Leave your thoughts below! (Don’t be shy. I’ll reply!)

Are you going to use Instagram Stories? If yes, will you use it with your real life friends or all friends? How do you like it compared to Snapchat?

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Learn to use Instagram Stories