How To View a Private Instagram

You meet someone new, look them up on Instagram, and see that they’re private. Dang. Private Instagram accounts require you to request to follow them before you can view their photos, but many Instagram users have looked for a way around this.

View Private Instagram Accounts

Whether you want to stalk a romantic interest, a former friend, or you just want to confirm their identity via Instagram, viewing private profiles is not as straightforward as one would hope. You may be too shy to press the follow button, but your options are limited when it comes to viewing private Instagram accounts.

How To See Private Instagram

There are a few methods you can try to view someone’s private Instagram account. Most are not guaranteed, as most owners of private Instagram accounts made them private on purpose – to keep control over who views their posts. Try these methods to view a private Instagram.

Request to Follow Them

I know, I know, it’s not the answer you were hoping for. However, unless you have been blocked on Instagram or that person explicitly won’t let you follow them, it’s worth a try. Simply bite the bullet and hit the follow button.

Private Instagram settings allow those private users to choose who they accept or decline as followers. Visit their page and press “Request to Follow” and then wait for them to accept or deny your request. Unfortunately, you won’t be notified if they deny your request, only if they accept it.

You can tell if they’ve rejected your follow request by returning to their profile. If your request is still pending, it will say “Requested” next to their profile picture. If they’ve already denied it, it will say “Request to Follow” again.

instagram follow request

Tips When Following Someone on Instagram:

  • Give them time: Not everyone checks Instagram every day, so don’t panic if they don’t accept your request right away. Many Instagram users accept total strangers, so if you know each other it’s very likely they’ll accept the request. 
  • Drop a line: Don’t harass them, but you can send them a direct message saying hi and explaining how you know them or why you want to follow them. If they were unsure who you were, this may make them more comfortable accepting you as a follower. 
  • Don’t take rejection too hard: Some people really want to keep their Instagram private from anyone they are not close with. If you are a stranger, it may make sense for them to deny your request. If you know them personally, you should still respect their decision to stay private.


Search for their Username

If you’re too anxious to follow them directly, you can try searching for their username on a search engine like Google. Find their exact username on Instagram, and type it into Google.

This method may not work, but if they had their settings set to public before, they may have left a trail on the internet. You may also find their other social media profiles this way, which may not have the same strict privacy settings.

Create a Second Instagram Account

A slightly stalker-ish approach: create a second Instagram account with a fake name and try to follow the private account that way. This is rather shady, and if the person is serious about their privacy it may not work.

Making a second Instagram account is easy, free, and only requires a few pieces of information. If the person you are trying to follow is denying your requests for personal reasons, you may have a better shot at viewing their profile this way. If they just don’t want strangers on their account, however, it’s unlikely they’ll let a fake account follow them.

If you’ve reached this point, it may be time to consider what you’re doing and why. If this person really does not want you viewing their Instagram, it’s probably for the best that you respect their decision and move on.

Is There a Way To View Private Instagram Accounts Without Following?

Private Instagram accounts are just that – private. Instagram is fairly serious about protecting the privacy of its members, so they don’t make it easy to break their privacy rules. There are apps out there, however, that claim to be able to view private accounts.

Instagram Private Profile Viewer Apps

Instagram private profile viewer apps claim to show you private Instagram accounts. It’s not entirely clear how any of these work, so we tried out some of the top ones.

In our research, many of these websites were blocked for security purposes. My browser wouldn’t even let me open most of the pages, which is a sign that you probably shouldn’t risk your own security on these websites to try to stalk someone else.

Others lead you to clearly shady links that require you to provide far too much personal information, or fill out a survey that looks like it will probably download a virus. Again, we don’t recommend risking your own cybersecurity to try to view someone’s Instagram – it might not even work anyway.  

Instagram Privacy Settings

You can choose to set your Instagram to private or public. Public profiles can be viewed by anyone with or without an Instagram account, and anyone on Instagram can follow them. With a public account, you can still block people if you wish, or remove followers on Instagram.

Private accounts give you more control over who views your Instagram, as they have to follow you to see your content. With a private Instagram, however, you can not run a business profile or appear on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

Privacy settings are up to you – if you’re comfortable letting others see your posts, then there is nothing wrong with a public profile. Businesses on Instagram should always be public, or you won’t be able to find new followers and customers as easily. Anyone looking to drastically grow their Instagram account should probably be public.

Set your Instagram profile to the privacy settings that you are most comfortable with. If you want to see a private account, the best, most surefire method is simply to follow them.

View Your Instagram Privacy Settings

Curious as to what your privacy settings are on Instagram? Follow these steps to view and change your privacy settings as needed.

      1. On your profile, click the three horizontal lines icon in the top right corner.
      2. Tap the settings gear at the bottom of the side menu that appears.
      3. Tap “Privacy and Security” > “Account Privacy”
      4. Tap the toggle to change your privacy settings.


Now that you know your privacy settings, you can rest assured that as many or as few people as you choose can view your Instagram.

Written by Erin

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