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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

How to Move Your Instagram Feed to Pixelfed, the Photo App That Doesn't Track Your Every Move

Instagram hasn't been a photography app for a while. Sure, you can upload photos to the app; a few people might even see it. The focus of Instagram, these days, is squarely on stories and videos.

And if you want a public archive of your photos, Instagram only kind of works: People need to log in to an Instagram account to browse your photos. Plenty of people don't want to do that, because the site tracks everything you do. None of this is to say that Instagram isn't useful—billions of users can't all be wrong—but looking for an alternative also makes sense.

Pixelfed is an open source, decentralized alternative to Instagram that recently added a tool for importing all your Instagram photos. This means you can automatically give all of the photos and videos you uploaded to Instagram a new home. Whether you want to shut down your Instagram account entirely or just back them up somewhere else, here's how.

Download Your Data From Instagram

Top get started you need to download all of your information from Instagram. Log in to Instagram in a desktop web browser and click the three-line button in the bottom-left corner, then click Your Activity.

Click Download your information in the left sidebar and make sure JSON is selected before clicking Next.

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You will be asked for your Instagram password, then, once you’ve entered it, told that Instagram is putting together your download. The service claims this could take up to 14 days, but for me it was more like 15 minutes. You will get an email linking you to your download, which will be a ZIP file. Save it.

Import Your Data to Pixelfed

Sign up for a Pixelfed account, if you haven't already. Note that Pixelfed is hosted on multiple servers, all run by volunteers, similar to Mastodon. There’s a list of general purpose servers—read up a little before choosing a server you like. After you've set up your account, click the arrow beside the Create New Post button and click Account Settings.

Click Import in the left sidebar, then click the blue Import button under Import from Instagram. Note that some servers restrict this feature—for example, your account might need to be a couple of days old before you can use it. In those situations you'll see a note explaining that the feature isn't available to you.

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After clicking Import you will be asked to upload the ZIP file you downloaded from Instagram. Do not close the tab until the upload is done. Eventually you will be asked which posts you want to import.

Choose the images you want and click Import. You will be brought back to the import page, where you will see that the importing is in progress.

Eventually all of your Instagram photos will show up on your Pixelfed page, complete with the time stamps from Instagram. It's a real archive of your Instagram history, completely off of Meta's servers.

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Pixelfed uses the ActivityPub protocol, just like Mastodon, meaning such accounts are compatible: Pixelfed users can follow Mastodon accounts, and vice versa. Instagram's Threads also plans to add ActivityPub support, meaning Instagram users will someday be able to follow your Pixelfed photos.

But Pixelfed is also a throwback to how Instagram used to be, before Stories and Reels bumped photos below the fold.

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