How to Add a Cover Photo to Instagram Reels

Instagram Tips & Resources

How to Add a Cover Photo to Instagram Reels


By Jillian Warren

Updated on September 20, 2021

3 minute read

ICYMI: You can now add a cover photo to your Instagram Reels! Find out how...

Published September 20, 2021

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

Did you know that you can add a cover photo to your Instagram Reels?

Thanks to this handy feature, you can share almost any Reel to your account, while still keeping a carefully crafted Instagram aesthetic in tact.

Plus, you can now edit the cover photos of a published Reel – so you can retrospectively improve your visual branding on Instagram!

How to Add a Cover Photo to Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels always perform best when they're shared to your profile grid, but they might not be the best visual fit for your Instagram aesthetic.

To get around this, you can add a cover image to your Reels. Here's how:

  1. Create an Instagram Reel, select "Next," and enter the "Share" settings screen.

  2. Tap "Cover" on the Reel preview image.

  3. Select a still from your Reel by dragging the selector icon across the duration of your footage, or select "Add From Camera Roll" to upload an image from your camera roll.

Add a cover photo to Instagram Reels by dragging the selector icon or uploading a photo from your camera roll

TIP: Adding an image from your camera roll will typically be higher quality than selecting a still from your video footage.

You can also preview and edit how your Reels cover image will look in your profile grid by selecting "Crop profile image."

How to Add a Cover Photo to Instagram Reels

From here, you can edit how the cover image displays on your profile grid. Drag the image to reposition, or perform a pinching motion with your finger tips to zoom in or out.

Take your Instagram strategy to the next level with Later — plan, schedule, and automatically post Reels to your feed. Sign up today:

How to Change an Instagram Reels Cover Photo After Posting

Thanks to a recent Instagram update, you can now edit Instagram Reels cover photos that were already posted.

This is great for bringing older Reels up-to-date with a new visual identity, or simply to make your Instagram aesthetic more cohesive.

How to edit an Instagram Reels Cover Photo:

  1. Open a published Instagram Reel (via the Reels tab).

  2. Select the three dots on the right-hand side of the screen.

  3. Select "Edit."

  4. Tap "Cover" on the Reel preview image.

  5. Select a still from your Reel by dragging the selector icon across the duration of your footage, or select "Add From Camera Roll" to upload an image from your camera roll.

How to Change an Instagram Reels Cover Photo After Posting

NOTE: It is not currently possible to preview how a cover photo will look in the profile grid when editing a published Reel.

How to Create an Instagram Reels Cover Photo

There are lots of great design and editing apps to help you create on-brand and aesthetically pleasing Reels cover designs.

Here are just a few apps you can use:

What is the best image size for my Instagram reel covers?

Reels share roughly the same dimensions as Instagram Stories (1080 x 1920 pixels), so you can use any of the pre-built templates for Instagram Stories as a starting point.

Keep in mind that Reels shared to your profile will be cropped to 1:1 in your grid feed, and will be cropped to 4:5 in the Instagram Home Feed. Cover images will display in full on the Instagram Reels tab.

PS Make sure your Instagram profile picture matches your reel cover photo and aesthetics.

FYI: Later is a social media management tool trusted by over 4M businesses, creators, and social media managers. Plan and automatically publish your Instagram Reels with Later — sign up today:

Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your social media posts with Later.

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