How to Get White Borders on Your Instagram Photos for That Polaroid Effect

Instagram started out as a photo-based app, sharing images in a Polaroid style (Iwan Shimko/Unsplash)

Instagram started out as a photo-based app, sharing images in a Polaroid style (Iwan Shimko/Unsplash)

While Instagram has certainly pushed Reels lately, there are a lot of people who want the old days of a photo-based platform in a Polaroid-style back.

Despite Instagram’s best efforts, many users still prefer to share images and want their feed to look clean and aesthetically pleasing.

Smart customization lets you frame the same old photos of your kitchen and your cat in a new way, so your photo stream can look stylish and in Instagram’s original Polaroid theme.

There are several apps and sites you can use. Here we have presented the most convenient options for you.

1. Clean Instagram – filters and white borders

You can get a nice white border on Instagram itself. If you look at your profile, you will automatically see a white line separating each photo. You have the option to thicken this on every image you upload.

When you upload a photo, look for an icon with two arrows pointing at each other at the bottom left of your image. Tap it and it will automatically create a border. Depending on the size and shape of your original image, it may not look exactly like a Polaroid, but it does create a nice effect on your feed.

2. Afterlight – Polaroid editing and borders

Available on iOS and Android, After Light is an app that lets you make fine adjustments to your photos and add various Polaroid frames. You can do all of this in one place, as well as export the final product directly to Instagram (or any social platform). But, although it is free to download, you need the paid option to get what we are looking for.

First, modify the image itself. For the dated analog effect, try changing the RGB curve to fade the color, decrease shadows, and increase grain. Then you can move on to frame options, before saving or sharing directly.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to splash out, you can download a few apps that collectively will do what Afterlight does on its own. A little more effort, but free.

3. InstaLab – Polaroid filters and borders

A limited version of InstaLab, available for free on iOS and Android, can get you the Polaroid effect very quickly and easily. Simply download the app, import or capture an image and scroll through the free templates available. You even have a #stayathome caption.

It doesn’t offer the same level of editing control or sophistication as Afterlight, but comes with various filters that can help give your photo an aged look.

4. Polarr – editing

Polarr is a photo editing app with all the tools of Afterlight, but it’s free. Available on iOS and Android, it has a wide range of toys you can add to your toolbar, including curves, shadows, effects, vignettes, and more. You can also add a simple border.

A useful trick is that it allows you to save the final effect as an instant filter – so you only have to fiddle once.

And finally, if it’s storage where you’re broke, there’s an option that doesn’t require any downloads at all…

5. Kapwing – Polaroid Border and Caption

Kapwing is an online studio that you can access on any browser and device. It’s simple to use, includes a caption, and handles video as well as stills, making it ideal for stories and reels.

While you can’t add borders to videos, you can still play around with images using Kapwing, with a full suite of customization options. This is a slightly more advanced tool, but ideal for perfectionists who want to tweak the finer details.

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