At the end of 2017, Instagram gave users the option to keep their 24-hour Story videos and images around for a bit longer, introducing Story Highlights. These Highlights appear near the top of users' Instagram profiles and feature collections of videos, photos, and post features from users' Story archives.
Since then, Story Highlights have really caught on, and users use them to show their followers fun moments, collections of posts, or clips from specific events that they posted to their Stories in the past. And for users who make a habit of adding stories from their archive to their profile's highlights, the Instagram Story covers that appear on each highlight can make their profile page look more organized and professional, leading viewers to check out their archived highlights.
But it's not very clear how to add cover images to your Instagram Story highlights, and making high-quality cover images for your IG stories can be impossible to do with the tools you have on your phone. I'm going to show you how to make and use custom, professional-looking story covers using Kapwing, a free online photo and video editor. You'll need to know just 4 steps:
- Choose an image to start with
- Upload it to the Kapwing Studio or use a template
- Resize & edit
- Download & share
*Skip to step 4 if you just want to learn how to add a cover image that you already have.
Step 1: Choose an Image to Start With
First, you'll need to figure out what picture you want to use for your story highlight cover. You might want to use a picture or still from your story highlights themselves, to give your followers a sneak peak at your content – to download your story highlights to your camera roll, go to your profile page and tap the archive button in the upper left corner. Select the highlight you want to save, tap "More" in the bottom right corner, and choose "Save Photo/Video." Now the archived picture or video is saved to your camera roll! If you want a still frame from a video, upload the video you saved to the Kapwing Converter tool, choose "JPG," and download the frame you choose.
You can also use any photo you found online – all you need to do is copy the link to the picture you want to use. And if you want to use a photo you have saved on your phone, just make sure you can find it in your file browser when you add it to your highlight.
Step 2: Upload It to the Kapwing Studio or Use a Template
To upload your content, just go to Kapwing.com and click “Start Editing.” Or, if you're already signed in, click "New Project," then "Start with Studio." This will take you to the Kapwing Studio, where you can use all of Kapwing’s editing tools in one place. Once you’re in the Studio, either select “Click to Upload” and search in your camera roll, or paste the link to the picture you want to upload. Your photo will automatically upload to the Kapwing Studio.
For a more streamlined process, you can get a head start by modifying one of these existing IG Story Highlight Cover templates. Just tap "Make It" and you'll go straight to the Kapwing Studio, with layers already in place for you to modify or replace!
Step 3: Resize & Edit
Once you're in the Kapwing Studio, you can make whatever edits you need to your cover image. Since all Instagram Story covers are circular, I recommend you begin by resizing your image to a square – this way, you won't need to do any repositioning or cropping when you upload it to Instagram. Just choose "Edit Background," and then "1:1" under "Output Size." If the picture isn't aligned the way you want, tap the image and choose "Edit Image," "Crop," and "1:1." Now you can drag the crop square to cover the part of the picture that you want to use. In the "Edit Image" menu, you can also drag the "Rounded Corners" button all the way to the right to see what your circular cover photo will look like on your Instagram profile!
Now you might want to add images, shapes, or text to your cover image. Take a look at The Rock's Instagram profile, with visually consistent, categorized covers for his Story highlights:
I'll try to recreate this exact style of IG Story cover using Kapwing, using the category "Nature." I add a shape for the background ribbon, some text for the highlight label, and a tree silhouette by searching in "Images" in the Kapwing Studio. Each of these layers is fully customizable, and I can drag them anywhere I want on the circular canvas. Here's how it turns out:
Step 4: Download & Share
Once you're all done making and customizing your Instagram Story highlight cover picture, tap "Publish" in the upper right corner of the Studio. Kapwing will begin processing your image – this should take less than a second. When your cover picture is finished processing, click “Download” from the right side of the screen. If you're using an older version of iOS on an iPhone or iPad, you'll need to download the small Kapwing app from the app store. But in iOS 13 and all other operating systems, you can download the image by long-pressing on it and choosing "Save Image."
Now you need to add the story highlight cover to your Instagram profile. Open the Instagram app and go to your profile. If you've already created an Instagram story highlight, you can select the highlight, choose "More" in the lower left corner," choose "Edit Highlight," then "Edit Cover." Then, choose the photo icon to the left of the thumbnail to find the cover image in your camera roll.
If you want to create a new highlight to use your cover image, go to your profile page, choose the menu in the upper right corner and choose "Archive." Then, choose the three-dot menu button in the upper right corner and tap "Create Highlight." Choose the photo or video you want to add, hit "Next," and then choose "Edit Cover" to choose your cover image from your camera roll. Now, just name your highlight and hit "Add."
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