Learn how to customize your instagram story covers!

Instagram Story Covers: How To + Free Covers

Instagram Story Covers are all the rage and I am here for it. Adding another layer of over-the-top curation to Instagram? Why not, am I right? I spent a solid afternoon of my life trying to figure out these covers for myself. Instagram’s supposed to be simple, but sometimes it lives me clicking around endlessly confused. Maybe it’s just me?

Whether you’re looking to spruce up your profile aesthetic or bring some kind of cohesiveness to your wild Instagram story addiction, Instagram Story Covers are for you. You can totally design your own Instagram covers with my favorite free graphic design platform Canva or even just on your phone with some nifty edits. Even better, download my kick-butt & completely free story covers at the bottom of this post!

Alright, alright, let’s get into the tutorial.

Customizing Your Instagram Story Covers Tutorial

Once you made the perfect covers on your own or downloaded mine, you’re ready to install them. First, you’ll need to open Instagram, obviously. Then, upload your new images to your Instagram story. It’s spammy and annoying, I know. I post a warning in advance so my followers know to just swipe through them instead of clicking through all the icons and questioning my sanity.

Once you’ve added all your covers to your story, view your story. At the bottom left corner, you’ll see an H with a circle around it. That’s how you add stories to your highlights. Click that and you’ll see a list of your existing highlights if you have them already. Click “Add New.” Now you can name your new highlight. You can keep it simple with text or use emojis or whatever floats your boat.

Instagram Story Highlights Tutorial

Now that you’ve added your covers to your highlights, it’s time to set them as covers. Go to your profile and click on the highlight. Once again, in the bottom right corner, you’ll see 3 dots “…” (aka ellipses for my grammar nerds out there).

Click those dots and then you’ll see a menu. Click “Edit Highlight.” Now you’ll see all the images/videos in your story and you can add and remove as needed. Click “Edit Cover” and you can now select the right image. You can adjust how it appears and everything! Click “Save” when you’re ready and voila! A shiny, new Instagram profile!

instagram story highlight tutorial

Amazingly simple, right? I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to figure it out! I love the look of these covers, and they help remind me to actually save my stories to highlights.

Step By Step Cover Tutorial

Are my wordy instructions a mess? Here are the same instructions broken down in simple terms.

  1. Open Instagram, upload your new covers to your story.
  2. View your covers in your story one-by-one and click the H at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Click “Add New” to create a new highlight or add your cover to an existing highlight.
  4. View your account, click on your highlight.
  5. Click “More” and click “Edit Cover.”
  6. Choose the cover and zoom as needed.
  7. Done!

Instagram Story Highlight Category Ideas

Struggling to think of story highlight ideas to use your gorgeous new covers on? I also struggled with this probably because my stories are so boring! (Wow, I’m really selling my Instagram account over here…)

Here are some of my favorites I’ve seen around:

  • Travel
  • Your City Name (ie “Orlando”)
  • Currently Reading
  • Currently Watching
  • Fashion/Style
  • Photography
  • Family
  • Food

Fun, right? I love watching Instagram stories. Maybe a little too much? I’ll get so engrossed in other people’s updates, it’s a bit ridiculous!

Free Instagram Covers

Let’s get to the freebies! I’ve designed 77+ Instagram story covers you can use on your own highlights! If you download, you’re free to edit them to suit your needs and no credit is needed (though it’s nice!). Here are the different style options you can choose from:

  • Colorful Gradients
  • Black & White Icons
  • Colorful Gradient Icons
  • Gradient Letters

Signup to Download Your Free Instagram Covers!

What do you think about Instagram covers? Are you for them? Over it? Let me know!

iPhone vector used in this post is designed by Freepik


Hey, I'm Sam! I'm the blogger and full-time writer behind Samanthability. I blog about starting your own blog and rocking post-grad life. You can find me exploring Seattle, binge-drinking iced coffees, and reading spicy romance books. I'm glad you're here!