How To Change The Background Color In Your Instagram Story

File under ridiculously simple hacks.

by Ayana Lage, Kaitlyn Wylde and Emma Carey
Originally Published: 
A woman with her hair in a towel changes the background color on her Instagram story.
mixetto/E+/Getty Images

It's hard to remember Instagram before the stories feature was introduced — it's an easy option for sharing updates and interacting with your followers with way more options to decorate your post than your grid options. While the features to add stickers to your story or change your font are located in obvious places with corresponding icons, changing the background color on your Instagram story is not particularly intuitive. But mastering the art of how to change the background color on an Instagram story will instantly make your slides stand out, which can translate to more views and more engagement. The best part? There's a solution so simple you're going to be shocked you didn't figure it out already.

Why would you need to change the background color on Instagram stories? When someone tags you in a story and you select Instagram's "Add This to Your Story" option, the app picks a color from the tagged image and makes it the Instagram story background — typically shown in a two-shade gradient or solid color. Same goes for if you select a photo from your library: Instagram will crop your photo to make it fill the dimensions of a typical story screen. However, if you want to feature the full photo, you can pinch the screen with two fingers to minimize the image. Behind the image will be a two-shade gradient or single color based on the photo.

While these backgrounds may perfectly complement your story, they might not always match your aesthetic vision. Having a cohesive Instagram vibe is helpful if you’re looking to build a following, or just love having a signature look. Brigette Muller, a content creator known to her 33K Instagram followers as @hummusbirrd, suggests people “stick to a color scheme that feels on-brand for you.” “This way people will start to recognize the story as yours even without seeing your IG handle,” says Muller.

If you want to personalize your Instagram story a bit more, replacing the default background with something else is super easy: All it requires is the Instagram story customization tools you have on-hand, and a bit of innovation. Here's a step-by-step guide to replace the background color with just a few taps.

Changing The Background Color When You Upload A Photo To Your Instagram Story

Ayana Lage

Draft a new story and pick a photo from your camera roll, or add a story you’ve been tagged in to your own story. Once the draft screen appears, use two fingers on the screen in a pinching motion to make it smaller, so that it doesn’t fill the screen. You’ll notice the border that appears is a color gradient you didn’t choose.

To make your own background, click the three horizontal dots at the top right of your screen. Click “Draw,” and you will be presented with a variety of marker settings up top, and a variety of colors to choose from at the bottom of your screen.

As for which color you choose, you can go with a pick from your profile aesthetic’s color scheme, or whatever complements the colors of the photo best. “I choose colors that feel calming to me and are nice to look at,” says Muller. “I usually do either a mint green or a beige.”

Once you’ve selected your color, choose one of the marker tools. If you want a solid background, pick the first one to the left at the top of the screen. If you want to lower the opacity, play around with the second highlighter brush. You can also add some shimmer by clicking the third marker with the shine icon — which will let you scribble with a neon effect.

Enlarge the tip size by dragging the scale on the left side of your screen in an upward direction, or decrease it by pulling it down if you’re looking to make a more detailed design.

If you don’t have time to be an artist about it, but want to quickly add a custom pop color to your photo slide, you can always scribble a bit with the marker tool using the largest brush setting, and then erase to reveal the photo.

You can also fill in the entire screen by holding your finger down on the screen while using the marker feature.

Ayana Lage

Using one finger, tap your screen and hold your finger still for several seconds — it may take a few tries to get the hang of it, but once you do it correctly, the color you’re using should fill up the screen.

If you’re using the solid marker feature, the color will cover your photo entirely. To reveal your photo, tap the eraser icon, increase the size using the scale on the left, and erase the color over your photo. You can be as precise as you want, changing the size of the eraser to get clean edges.

If you’re using the highlighter marker, this method will add a translucent color tint over your photo, which can be a nice effect, especially if you’re going to overlay text and the photo is not the focal point.

Changing The Background Color When You Share A Story You Were Tagged In

If someone tags you in a story and you choose to share the story, changing the background color is much easier. While using the draw tool on your own photo from your camera roll will allow you to cover the photo with color, when you share another person’s story, the draw feature can only color behind the photo.

So, this means you can use any marker setting and scribble away. Whether you choose to fill the entire screen in opaque marker, or use the transparent highlighter marker, the photo will remain totally visible over the color. However, this also means that you cannot overlay the marker over the photo itself.

Changing Your Instagram Story Background Color Using The Dropper Tool

Ayana Lage
Ayana Lage

If you aren't loving any of the default color options that Instagram offers, you can use the dropper tool to select a new background color using the colors in the image you're sharing. Tap the dropper icon in the lower left corner, then pick a color from the photo.

You can use this color to draw, or you can long press the screen to make the entire story this color.

Changing Your Instagram Story Background Color Using Create Mode

Ayana Lage
Ayana Lage

Instagram's background color tool isn't just for tagged stories — you can also use it when you're utilizing the create tool. To make a story using Create, swipe left as you normally would to post a story, then click on the “Aa” icon on the left-hand side of your screen.

From here, you can choose from a variety of Instagram’s preset gradient and solid color backgrounds. You can also swipe through the Create features at the bottom of your screen to post a Gif as your story, post your most recent tagged story over a preset background, and more. As always, you can top things off with added text, drawing, and stickers from the menu at the top of your screen.

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