This one setting could be making your Instagram posts look worse — maybe


Whenever I get a new phone and eventually install Instagram, the first thing I do is dig through the app’s settings menu for a toggle that reads “Upload at highest quality.” According to the app, when enabled, this ensures you’ll “Always upload the highest quality photos and videos, even if uploading takes longer. When this is off, we’ll automatically adjust upload quality to fit network conditions.”

But here’s the weird part: by default, this setting is switched off. Aren’t we in the 5G era? Isn’t this the social media platform where people obsess over presenting themselves in the best possible light? Why would the highest-quality uploads be an opt-in feature in 2023? And how come they buried this several layers deep in settings? Shouldn’t it be a choice you’re presented with after opening Instagram for the first time?

No one can be certain what this toggle actually does, but it can’t hurt to make sure it’s set to on.
Screenshot: Chris Welch / The Verge

Sometimes I wonder what difference the toggle actually makes. Instagram doesn’t go into detail on any of its support pages; there’s no technical info available on resolution or video bit rate limits that are put into place if the app determines that your network connection is subpar. But if you upload a story, reel, or feed post that looks noticeably blurrier or downgraded from the original, maybe this setting is the reason why. I know there’s some Instagram engineer out there who probably knows every last detail, so don’t hesitate to email me.

It’s particularly important to enable this if you’ve got an Android device; people have often complained that Instagram content looks worse when published from Google’s OS as opposed to iOS. I don’t want to stir the pot on that much, but there’s a long history of the Android side feeling shortchanged — even if Adam Mosseri recently shared his take that Google’s mobile OS has surpassed Apple’s in overall form and function.

No, all I can do is advise you to go hunting for this toggle — just as I do upon every phone upgrade — to make sure all your bases are covered. And here’s how to do that.

From your Instagram home tab:


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