Instagram is a wildly popular platform that currently boasts over 1 billion users. Although many creators love to have their content shared with the world, many prefer to keep their images and videos hidden and shown only to people who they have personally approved as followers.
This leads to two types of Instagram accounts: public and private.
Public Instagram Accounts Vs. Private Instagram Accounts
The default Instagram account is public. It means that anyone can find your profile and view everything you've shared. To make an account private, you have to go into your settings and select that option.
Once an Instagram account is made private, the content is not publicly visible. You can see the profile but none of the content beyond the bio and headshot.
It will look something like this.
If for some reason you need or just want to view a private account, here is how.
Here are the only ways to currently view a private Instagram account (unless you work at Instagram).
Let's start with the only "white hat" approach. Tactic #5 is too extreme so I don't recommend that one... but have to share.
#1 Send a Follow Request to the Private Account (and Hope It's Accepted)
There's a reason people want their accounts kept private. They want only people they know to see their content.
The only real white hat wait therefore is to send a follow request and have it accepted. Depending on how often the account is monitored, acceptance of your follow request could take a few days.
If your request goes unaccepted, you can always try to DM (direct message) the creator to get their attention and hopefully get on their radar and have your follow request accepted.
#2 Do a Google Search of the Profile's Handle
Google keeps records of Instagram account content and simply searching the profile's handle into Google's search engine can find a lot of content from them. Only content that was created when the account was public will be visible though.
#3 Use a 3rd Party Instagram Viewer App
There are a number of 3rd party tools that can allow you to see private accounts.
Any of those above should work.
These are really the best options if you can't get access to an account the white hat way. Be careful though, I haven't vetted those tools and can't promise that they aren't going to use spyware or do anything malicious with your data.
DISCLAIMER: The Last Two Tips Are Black Hat/Weirdo Level Tactics
The last 2 tips are not cool and can get you kicked off Instagram if you're caught doing them. I am only sharing them here for the completeness of the article.
#4 Create A Fake Account
Ok, now we're approaching the land of "kind of creepy." This is borderline unethical and definitely is against the terms of service of most platforms, including Instagram.
According to the "experts" across the internet, you have a much better chance of getting a fake account posed as a female approved than as a man.
I can't stress enough how much I don't agree with this approach but...for the article, I must.
#5 Create a Disguised Account Posing As Someone the Creator Knows
This approach is not just against the terms of service, it's flat out creepy. I'm only sharing this method just for the sake of completeness but don't do this unless you have a really good reason for it (like finding evidence to a crime or something along those lines).
The method is pretty simple, you find a person that the profile knows and you create a mock account that poses as them and then send your follow request like in step #1.
You can do this by following the person across other social media platforms like Facebook and finding a person that they regularly engage with.
Like I said, creepy and weird but apparently, it works.
There you have it, 5 ways to view a private Instagram profile that work in 2021. Again, don't use these methods for deviousness. Don't be weird.