April 13, 2020

OMG OMG OMG! Have you heard? You can now watch Instagram Live videos on desktop! Yes, the feature that has forever been restricted to mobile devices, is now available on desktop. And it could have big implications for your brand or organization!

Ok, let’s get a few basics out of the way before I dive into nuances:

  • You can WATCH Instagram Live videos on desktop, you cannot stream a live video from the desktop
  • You’ll see a LIVE icon next to the person in the Stories section on desktop when they are live
  • You cannot watch replays on the desktop (at this time), you can only watch the live broadcast

Here’s what it looks like when someone is live and you’re logged into instagram.com on the desktop:

If they are on their home screen, they’ll see you’re live in the Stories box to the upper right

Or, if they go to your profile on Instagram, they’ll see this on your profile:

They can click on the live option to pull up and watch your live stream right there on the desktop. It’s relatively quick and easy, like most things related to Instagram Live.

A couple things to note about the live stream on desktop:

  • The video is still 9:16 and the comments are off to the right hand side. This is nice because the comments don’t come up over the screen like they do on mobile
  • ONLY the comments are visible on desktop – not any new viewers’ usernames as they come in (like you see on mobile)
  • You can only comment or report on desktop – you can’t “like” the video at any point
  • The desktop video has a definite lag over mobile – sometimes the lag is only a half a second or so, but sometimes the lag is at least 5 seconds or more

Additionally, we did test out the guest feature to invite a guest onto your live stream, and when you do, the video appears as normal, with the guest stacked below you, even when viewing on the desktop.

So, why does all of this matter to you?

This is a big deal, because it’s another, and likely easier, way for your audience to watch your live streams on Instagram.

Personally, I get way more views on Instagram live videos than I do on YouTube live, Facebook Live, or anything else. So it makes more sense for me to broadcast on Instagram if I’m going to go live. BUT, that does limit the options – or it did before now – to only watching on mobile.

And, let’s face it, if someone is going to host a long live show (like I do), that’s monopolizing the viewer’s mobile device for a long time. It means they can’t check other apps or sites you may reference or recommend. It means they can’t answer calls or texts without dropping off the video. It means they are killing their battery. It means their arm may get tired too!

There can be a lot of limitations to streaming to mobile only. But, now that viewers could watch on a desktop, you could get even more viewers for your Instagram lives! Your audience will have more options in how they choose to tune in and that could open up more opportunity for you. Additionally, people who use their computers/laptops to share to a TV can now watch you on a big screen for full effect and better audio, rather than on a small device.

If you don’t currently do long form lives (webinar or podcast style), this may be something you want to consider. People can have this running in the background like they would a podcast on their desktop. You can cover tips, training, tutorials, interviews, or other types of valuable shows that would benefit your audience.

Things to keep in mind…

You don’t get a notification of someone going live on instagram.com, you have to be there and on a refreshed browser to see that they’re live.


  • Promote your live show well in advance – use your Stories to promote your live stream 24 hours prior and use the countdown sticker with the time set for the time of the live show
  • Try to show up at a regular scheduled time for live shows so your audience can calendar and prepare to show up and they know to expect you on that upcoming day and time
  • Let people know on the live stream that they have the option to jump over to a desktop to watch the video more conveniently if they would like

Now it’s up to you to go make the most of this new feature! Have fun!

I’ll admit I jumped on a few live videos to test out some features and how everything works on Instagram. Fortunately, I had some great people chime in and send me these screen shots and test out some features. So a huge thank you to all of you who entertained me and helped me test a bunch of things to make sure we knew how this would work! Thanks to Jacki, Jonathan, Brandon, and Yvi for all their help!

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