An Instagram experiment
on the desktop

Instagram viewed using Flotato on macOS

I tried an experiment: I took Instagram off my phone and found a way to use it (with some limitations) on my desktop.

The main reason for this was recognising my own phone addiction. I was checking Instagram many times a day. (There were other reasons too: the ads were getting more intrusive, it’s owned by Facebook, which troubles me, and so on.)

Addicted or not, it was hard to remove the app from my life completely. There were still some people I follow there whose lives I’m interested in. I want to know what they’re up to, see what photos they’re taking. I care about those people.

And I didn’t want to disappear from their view, either. I don’t regret my decision to delete myself from Facebook many years ago, but it has had consequences: there are people I’m no longer in touch with, because Facebook was the only thing that had kept us connected. That troubles me too.

All of this got me wondering: could I do Instagram differently?

The answer is yes.

Now Instagram is on my desktop

I found a workaround, that seems to be working so far: I’ve found a way to put Instagram on my laptop.

There’s an app for macOS called Flotato. It’s specialist browser with a unique UI: you duplicate the app itself in Finder, rename that copy with the name of the service you want to view with it (in this case, Instagram), open it, and behold: you have a browser just for that service.

There’s more. Flotato has a menu command that lets you switch between the mobile and desktop versions of the web service you’re using it for. I’ve switched to mobile version. It’s not perfect, but it works. Stories work, but you have to click each separate video clip to play it, so they’re clunky. Posting works: click the post button, and a standard macOS file sheet pops up for you to pick an image with.

Weirder still: with this setup, I see no ads at all. I’m not sure why not. Is Flotato doing something to strip them out? Is it using the ad blocker I’ve got installed for use with Safari? No idea. But still: no ads.

As a result of making this switch:

Filed under: computers