This great free Instagram upgrade will bring you closer to your friends

Instagram's really useful Close Friends feature is now available for your posts and reels

Two women using Instagram on their phones.
(Image credit: Getty)

Instagram has just added an update that helps solve one of the most common problems with social networks: they're flat. In real life we tend to have different friend and contact groups for different parts of our lives – work colleagues, school friends, close friends and so on – but many social networks just mash them all together and share your stuff to everyone. Instagram's Close Friends feature changes that.

Close Friends isn't a new feature, but until now it's been limited to your Stories and Notes: it enables you to limit those things to small groups of people that you define as close friends. Now, though, the feature has been rolled out to your main feed, so you can apply it to your posts and to your reels too. This is a really welcome improvement.

What is Instagram Close Friends for?

According to Instagram it's designed so that you can use it as "a pressure-free space to connect with the people that matter most." By giving you more control over who can see specific bits of content, the hope is that you'll be more inclined to post.

I think it'll work. I know in my own case I often decide not to post something because I don't want my entire Insta follower list to see it: it might be something a bit more personal, or something that could easily be taken out of context by someone I don't know. 

Using the feature in the Instagram app is really simple. When you're creating your new post or reel, tap on Audience > Close Friends > Share. This will limit the audience to your Close Friends group, and they'll know they're special because your post or reel will appear with a little green star on it. 

There's one way in which Close Friends works slightly differently than it does with stories, and that's when someone comments. With a story, their comment is sent to you as a direct message. With reels and posts, comments will be posted publicly for other group members to see.

For now, Close Friends is global: you can't have different groups for different kinds of content, such as having one group for your reels, one for your stories and another for your posts. But that might be coming: Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has previously said that his team was trying ways for ever more nuanced, controllable sharing

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).