While I don’t see Instagram as the be all and end all that’ll make or break my business, it’s no secret that it’s by far my favourite little app and my favourite way of connecting with artists and creatives from all over the world. However, it can easily become a distraction that swallows up hours and hours of our time, and after watching The Social Dilemma a few weeks ago I became a lot more mindful of the way I use it, and have been trying to come up with new ways of using it more… smartly.

One thing I often wish Instagram allowed us to do is create lists, just like we can on Twitter and Facebook. Of course this would mean giving us back some control over our feed and how we curate it, so I imagine this’ll never be an option. Imagine this: if we could sort the people we follow into different lists (mine would probably be friends and family, business development, photographers, bands & musicians, local businesses, and dogs…) and easily access what they’ve posted (bonus points if it’s all sorted chronologically), then we’d barely fall into any rabbit holes and we’d waste a lot less time in the app, right?!

Enter… Shortcuts. If you’ve never heard of it, Shortcuts (formerly Workflow) is an iOS scripting app that allows users to automate sequences of actions, or specific tasks, and trigger them with a button or a voice command. For example, I have a shortcut (that I’ve called Let’s Go Home) that launches Google Maps and automatically sets course for my house, waits 10 seconds, then opens up Spotify to play my favourite playlist.

In my quest for a smarter and more mindful Instagram usage, I thought: “Hey, I bet I can make a shortcut that lets me create lists of Instagram users and open up their profiles to keep up to date with their recent posts!” — and because I’m a shameless nerd… I did just that. And now, in today’s blog post, I’m sharing it with you.

Have a look at this GIF to see it in action:

Okay… How Does It Work?!

First, sorry Android users, but you’re going to need an iPhone for this…

Make sure you have the Shortcuts app installed on your phone, then open it up. If you’ve never used the app before, it’ll likely make you go through some initial setup/introduction before you can get started.

To start with, you’ll need to go into your iPhone’s Settings > Shortcuts and toggle “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts”. This will allow you to add my shortcut to your phone. Don’t worry – “untrusted” doesn’t mean it’s malicious, simply that it’s not an “official” Apple shortcut. (As an aside: always make sure that you download your shortcuts from trusted sources, and always read through all the steps before you add a shortcut!)

Then, download my shortcut — just pop your email below and it’ll automatically be emailed to you. Open the link in the email and tap “Get Shortcut” at the bottom of the page. It’ll automatically open the Shortcuts app and ask you to review the contents of the shortcut before you add it. Once you’re done, tap “Add Untrusted Shortcut” at the bottom of the page, and it’ll be added to your shortcuts.

Download My Instagram List iOS Shortcut

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1. Allow Untrusted Shortcuts // 2. Download and add my shortcut

Next, find the shortcut in the app and tap the 3 dots in a circle to open it up in edit mode. The only thing you need to edit is the top block, which contains the accounts you’d like to add to your “list”. You only need to add people’s usernames: don’t copy/paste URLs, and don’t use any @ before the usernames. Essentially, what the shortcut does is that it automatically inputs a username at the end of the www.instagram.com/ URL, then opens it up in the app.

You can add as many items to the list as you want. Once you’re done, you can rename the shortcut into whatever you’d like. To do this, tap the 3 dots in the top right hand corner. You’ll have the option to change its name as well as its icon.

From there, you can also add the shortcut to your home screen: tap Add to Home Screen, customise the name and icon (that’s where you can add your own custom icons, if you’re into that sort of thing!), then confirm by tapping Add at the top.

If you’d like to create multiple lists, you don’t need to add the shortcut every time: just go to your shortcuts list, tap Select, select the shortcut and choose Duplicate in the bottom left corner. Then repeat the previous steps to edit the shortcut and create a new IG list. 🙂

4. Rename the Shortcut // 5. Duplicate the Shortcut

Boom, you’re done! Easy, right?

Now you can go to your home screen, tap on your newly created shortcut, choose any account from the list and it’ll open up in Instagram.

I’ve found this really useful to engage more with the accounts I genuinely want to see more of, as well as spending less time mindlessly scrolling through the ‘gram. It’s obviously not as awesome as actual lists for our feed would be, but it’s doing the job for me now and I hope you’ll find it useful too! 🙂