Social Media
min read

Make Instagram Highlight Covers Free

Published on
January 2, 2019

Considering that over 400 millions Instagram users are viewing Stories, DAILY, your content plan definitely needs to include Instagram Stories.

Let’s put that another way – 80% of Instagram users watch stories.

Think of stories as another medium inside Instagram to reach your audience.

However, stories last for 24 hours by default – and poof! They’re gone! Well, they’re gone to the public eye.

They’re available to YOU in your archive.

When you set a story as a highlight, it stays there forever, or until you remove it from the highlight.

Here’s a step by step to creating highlights, and highlight covers.

If you watch this through the end, I’ll show you how you can get a copy of my highlight template for free. I’ll give you a free template you can quickly add your own brand color, and free icons to use for your highlight covers.

The reason you want to create a highlight cover is so that:

  1. Your audience has an easy visual reference to what that highlight is about
  2. It looks pretty

Let’s create the highlight.

Assuming you have already created at least ONE story, go to your archive.

From the archive, find the story you want, and then tap the highlight button.

If you’ve never made a highlight before, it will ask you to create a new one.

Or, if you already have a highlight, you can add to an existing one OR create a new one

Pro-tip: You don’t have to wait until the story is archived to highlight it. If you have an active story within its 24 hour period, you can just view it and tap the highlight button while it’s still active!

Now that we have our highlight, we’re half-way done!

We just need to create the highlight cover.

Ok, so let’s jump over to Canva.

If you don’t have an account with them, sign up for a free account OR just use whatever graphic design app you like best. I typically create all of my social media graphics in Adobe Illustrator, but to make this super easy for any user – I’m showing this to you in Canva.

In canna, create new design, then type in “Instagram Story”.

It will create a new design in the 1080x1920 dimension.

First things first – set your background color. I’d recommend using a solid color and matching it to your brand’s color.

Next, search for an icon you want to use.

Alternatively, you could just use text – but highlight covers are the perfect use of icons in design.

Here I’m creating a highlight cover for “Learning”.

I’m looking for an icon of a graduation cap, so I type in education

I got lucky! It’s a free one. Some of the artwork in Canva is paid.

Let’s change the icon from black to white so it pops out more.

Tap the color square in upper left and change to a new color. Depending on your brand color, you might want to use a dark icon with a lighter background.

Now, resize the icon a little. It can’t be too big or too small.

If it’s too small, you’ll have to zoom in very far and the highlight cover will be fuzzy.

If it’s too big, you won’t be able to zoom out.

I personally haven’t yet found a way to size it perfectly.. I just kind of eyeball it.

I kind of make it about 1/3 of the height though - ish.

Watch as I duplicate the icon twice, you can see they are evenly spaced out in thirds… so I’m happy with this size.

Now, Canva has what’s called grid snapping in place. So move the icon around until you see both the purple vertical and purple horizontal guide lines – this indicates it’s centered vertically and horizontally.

If you only have ONE highlight you’re all set to download.

If you have more than one highlight you need to make a cover for, the tap that copy page button.

This way, you just need to swap out the icon.

I’ll create one more here for my coffee highlight

One thing I like to do is drop the new icon in over the old one. Then snap it to the middle, then use OPTION-CLICK DRAG (ALT on PC) to resize proportionally.

Then, I remove the old icon, and re-center the new icon.

Poof, it’s done !

So now I have two highlight covers ready to go.

Let’s download them.

Click the down-arrow in upper right corner.

You want to save as PNG, as high quality image

Make sure “all pages” is selected.

It’s going to save it as a zip file if there’s more than one, or just one single PNG file if there is only one.

Side note, I call it a “ping” file, but it stands for portable network graphic.


Now, to be completely honest - this next part is probably the most difficult for everyone to accomplish.

You need to get the image you just downloaded – on to your phone !

If you have a Mac and an iPhone – the EASIEST way is to airdrop it

If you have a PC, You’re going to have to google that one. I draw a line in the sand with any sort of PC tech support… yuck.

I’m just going to airdrop this real quick so I can show you the next step.

Ok, now that the image is on my phone – I’m ready to go back to Instagram and create the cover.

Here’s a PRO PRO tip. To make a highlight cover, you USED to have to create the Instagram story, use the image as your story, then set the highlight, then set the cover.

That’s so 2018.

As of this past July, Instagram just enabled using your camera roll for a cover!

Ok, let’s goto your profile, find the highlight you want to change.

Tap and HOLD the highlight until “EDIT HIGHLIGHT” appears.

Next, you’ll tap the “edit cover”.

From there, slide all way to left until you see the picture icon. Tapping this will let you choose from your phone’s photo library.

Open that photo, and let’s center the icon nice and big inside the circle.

Tap SAVE AND YOU ARE DONE my friend.

That is IT.

So to recap how easy this is, you literally just:

  • Create a story
  • Tap “add to highlight"
  • Create a new highlight name
  • Add your highlight cover graphic as the cover


Now, for the free template.

Click the link in the description OR on this page and I’ll send you the template to your email.

You can then open this template up in Canva, and then save as a template to your own Canva library.

From there, just swap out the colors and add your own icons.

I hope this was helpful to you. If it was, please subscribe to my channel, like this video so more people can find it.

AND, in the comments – tell me what you like most about stories for Instagram.


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