Guide to Instagram Video Sizes: How to Format Your IG Posts

Written by
Marilyn Moser
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7
min read

Instagram has come a long way since Thomas Edison invented it as a way to post pictures from his iPhone. In the last few years the ubiquitous social network has become a key platform for video creators. 

If you’re making videos, you need to understand how to reach your audiences on Instagram. That starts with learning Instagram’s video specs. Here’s a breakdown of the optimal video size for Instagram, the optimal video format for Instagram, and some key tips for getting your content noticed (and those view counts up).

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4 types of Instagram videos

As of 2021, Instagram offers four major categories of video posts. Here’s a breakdown, with ideal technical specs and the typical purpose for each.

Instagram Video

Size & dimension: 1080 x 1350p

Format: MP4, MOV, GIF

Aspect ratio: 9:16 (16:9 in landscape mode)

Resolution: HD or 1080p

In 2021, Instagram combined standard videos that appear in your feed with IGTV to create Instagram Video. These videos appear in your personal feed alongside your other posts, but they also have their own home in the Instagram Video tab. Instagram Videos can be up to 60 seconds long unless they’re advertising-supported content, which can only be 15 seconds long. They will remain public unless you delete them or make them private.

Instagram Story

Size & dimension: 1080 x 1920p

Format: MP4, MOV, GIF

Aspect ratio: 9:16 (16:9 in landscape mode)

Resolution: HD or 1080p

Stories are short videos that disappear from your public profile after 24 hours. They’re the most-watched content on Instagram. Stories can only be 15 seconds long, but Instagram automatically slices longer videos into 15-second stories.

Instagram Reel

Size & dimension: 1080 x 1920p

Format: MP4, MOV, GIF

Aspect ratio: 9:16 (16:9 in landscape mode)

Resolution: HD or 1080p

Reels are videos that appear in the main news feed but expand to be full screen when you tap them. They can be up to 60 seconds long and you can add music, graphics, and text to them. Reels live in a separate tab on your profile page, between the Instagram grid tab and the Instagram Video tab. Reels are meant to compete with TikTok.

Instagram Carousel Video

Size & dimension: 1080 x 1920p

Format: MP4, MOV, GIF

Aspect ratio: 9:16 (16:9 in landscape mode)

Resolution: HD or 1080p

Instagram carousel posts appear in the regular feed, but contain multiple images or videos in one entry. They allow swiping within the posts to see the next piece of content.

The 3 video formats for Instagram

Instagram can accept uploaded video content in three formats.

  1. MP4. The ideal Instagram video format is .MP4 with H. 264 codec and AAC audio. This is often the default video output for smartphones.
  2. MOV. Instagram can also handle .mov files, which are standard for Apple’s QuickTime.

GIF. GIF, which stands for graphics interchange format, is a short, repeating video without sound. They might be a scene from a movie or show or simply a cat playing the piano on a loop. To upload a GIF to Instagram, you have to convert it to a video that’s at least four seconds long. Contrary to conventional belief, Thomas Edison did not invent the GIF.

What to consider when making an Instagram video?

Your page already has great, likable content but to make your videos, stories, and Reels pop, you should know the elements that go into formatting a video for Instagram

  • Size and dimension. The best size and dimension for an Instagram video depends upon its intended use. For videos in the regular Instagram feed, aim for a pixel size of 1080 x 1350p. Instagram Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, and Instagram Reels all do best at 1080 x 1920p, which is the full-screen size of today’s smartphones. Instagram carousel videos, as shown in ads, also should be exported at 1080 x 1920p. When shown in the regular feed, they look best at 1080 x 1350p.
  • Video format. The ideal Instagram video format is .mp4 with H. 264 codec and AAC audio. A great number of smartphones are now optimized for this Instagram video file type. MOV files will also fit the Instagram format. Note that, if you want to post a GIF on Instagram, you have to convert it to a video file. 
  • Aspect ratio. The ideal aspect ratio for Instagram video varies with its intended use. Videos in the standard Instagram feed look best with a 9:16 aspect ratio; 4:5 also works. Videos appearing as Instagram Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, Instagram Reels, and Instagram Carousel ads look their best with a 9:16 aspect ratio.
  • Resolution. Instagram allows the upload of HD videos, which most smartphones now support. You can also create high-video-quality Instagram posts shooting at 1080p. Take note that Instagram imposes size limits on its longest videos, which get shown through IGTV. Videos under 10 minutes may not exceed 650 MB, while videos up to one hour (the longest Instagram allows) may not exceed 3.6 GB.

4 types of Instagram videos

As of 2021, Instagram offers four major categories of video posts. Here is a breakdown of their names, their ideal technical specs, and their typical purpose.

Type of Instagram Video Size and Dimension Video Format Aspect Ratio Resolution Format Description
Instagram Video 1080 x 1350p MP4, MOV, GIF 9:16
(16:9 in landscape mode)
HD or 1080p In 2021, Instagram combined standard videos that appear in your feed with
IGTV to create Instagram Video. These videos appear in your personal feed
alongside your other posts, but they also have their own home in the
Instagram Video tab on your page. Instagram Videos can be up to 60 seconds
long unless it is advertising-supported content, which can only be 15 seconds
long. These will remain on your public page unless you delete them or make
them private.
Instagram Story 1080 x 1920p MP4, MOV, GIF 9:16
(16:9 in landscape mode)
HD or 1080p Short videos that disappear from your public profile in 24 hours. This is the
most-watched content on Instagram. Stories can only be 15 seconds long,
but Instagram automatically slices longer videos into 15-second stories.
Instagram Reel 1080 x 1920p MP4, MOV, GIF 9:16
(16:9 in landscape mode)
HD or 1080p Reels are videos that appear in the regular scrolling feed but expand to be full
screen when you tap them. They can be up to 60 seconds long and you can add
music, graphics, and text to them. Reels live in a separate tab on your profile
page, between the Instagram grid tab and the Instagram Video tab. Reels are
meant to compete with TikTok.
Instagram Carousel Video 1080 x 1920p MP4, MOV, GIF 9:16
(16:9 in landscape mode)
HD or 1080p Instagram carousel posts are posts that appear in the regular feed, but that
contain multiple images or videos in one entry. They allow swiping within the
posts to see the next piece of content.

Why do Instagram video size requirements matter?

Instagram video size requirements ensure that your video content will look as high-quality and professional as possible. By adhering to the platform’s spec parameters, you ensure that your videos will not look grainy, awkwardly cropped, or jittery. This, in turn, reflects better on your—both in terms of a brand image and a personal image. It doesn’t look good to the viewer if part of a video is cut off because you didn’t size it correctly for the type of video they’re viewing. 

The 3 video formats for Instagram

Instagram can accept uploaded video content in three formats.

  1. MP4. The ideal Instagram video format is .mp4 with H. 264 codec and AAC audio. This is often the default video output for today’s smartphones.
  2. MOV. Instagram can also handle .mov files, which is the standard for programs like Apple’s QuickTime.
  3. GIF. GIF, which stands for graphics interchange format, is a short, repeating video without sound. They might be a reaction shot from RuPaul’s Drag Race (“Sashay Away”) or simply a cat playing the piano on a loop. To upload a GIF to Instagram, you have to convert it to a video that’s at least four seconds long. 

How to increase the quality of your videos on Instagram

If you want to bump up the quality of the videos you post on Instagram, try applying these tips.

  • Post from a high-quality internet connection. Instagram videos upload at a higher resolution when you upload on a strong WiFi network or via a good 5G mobile connection.
  • Use the right aspect ratio for Instagram video. Upload videos that have an aspect ratio of 1080 x 1920p for Instagram Stories, Reels, and IGTV. The 1080 x 1350p aspect ratio may work better for videos in the standard Instagram feed.
  • Create videos in mp4 format. Although Instagram can accept videos in the .mov file format, it will then convert them to .mp4 for playback. Every time a digital file converts to a new format, it loses a bit of fidelity. By creating the original video as an .mp4, you eliminate one level of video conversion.
  • Upgrade your equipment. Sometimes the best way to improve your videos is to upgrade your equipment. Smartphone camera sensors, microphones, and processing chips improve with each passing year as brands like Apple, Samsung, and LG seek to outdo each other. If it has been a long time since you upgraded your smartphone—or your DSLR camera if that’s how you shoot—perhaps now is the time.

Instagram dimension and size FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Instagram video size and format.

  1. Should you use dimensions larger than your smartphone screen? Instagram works best on mobile phones when you post videos with 1080 x 1920p dimensions for full-screen applications like Stories, Reels, and IGTV. Videos in the regular feed look best at 1080 x 1350p. You can also post videos that have dimensions exceeding those of a smartphone screen, and Instagram will properly shrink the video to fit a user’s screen. As Instagram’s own internal technology improves, content creators can worry less about precise dimensions and focus more on making unique and memorable content.
  2. How many MB can you upload on Instagram? The largest files that Instagram supports are for IGTV. Videos up to 10 minutes long may have a file size of 650 GB or less. Videos up to 60 minutes long may have a maximum file size of 3.6 GB. Archived Instagram Live videos can be larger still, going up to 4 GB.
  3. How long can an Instagram video be? The videos that appear in the regular newsfeed and Stories can be 15 seconds long. Instagram will automatically splice longer videos into 15-second pieces. Videos posted as a Reel can be 60 seconds long. The format for the longest videos is IGTV, and those videos range from 60 seconds on the low end to 60 minutes on the high end.
  4. What is the bitrate for an Instagram video? Instagram uses a 3500 kbps bitrate.
  5. Can you post 16:9 on Instagram? Instagram recommends shooting with an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5. However, the platform can accommodate videos with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  6. Can you post horizontal videos on Instagram? Instagram’s layout gives preference to vertical videos, also known as portrait videos. However, you can also upload horizontal videos, or landscape videos. These appear in a shrunken form on the regular Instagram feed, but they can appear full-sized in full-screen video applications such as Stories, IGTV, or Reels.
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Written by
Marilyn Moser

Creator Partner Manager at Descript

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
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Marilyn Moser

Creator Partner Manager at Descript

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