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Instagram Reels tutorial: How to use the TikTok competitor

Reels is the latest feature to hit Instagram, letting you make 15-second videos with AR filters and other special effects.

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Reels is Instagram's in-app TikTok competitor.

Instagram/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Instagram now has a new way for you to show off your creativity. The social media platform last week launched its TikTok competitor Reels, which lets you film, edit and post 15-second videos in the Instagram app. Reels, available now in the US, looks like it'll give social media influencers and other creators a new way to make and share short-form content. 

Instagram Reels will have some catching up to do. TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, and is wildly popular among Gen Z. Instagram, meanwhile, has over 1 billion monthly users, who skew slightly older. But Instagram's familiar platform may make it a way for people who wouldn't otherwise download TikTok to experiment with the 15-second video format. And since the White House is considering a ban on TikTok due to the app's ties to China, Instagram Reels may pick up some users who are concerned about this, too. 

Instagram Reels will feel familiar if you've used Instagram before, or if you ever made a Vine back in the day, or a TikTok more recently. 

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Instagram/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

How to make an Instagram Reel

1. Download the latest version of the Instagram app on iOS or Android, and open the app.

2. Swipe right to open the Instagram camera, or tap the camera icon in the top left corner.

3. At the bottom of the screen, tap Reels.

4. Tap the record button to film your Reel (the clip must last between 3 and 15 seconds). 

5. On the left of the screen, you can explore Reel's suite of editing tools, including adding audio, text or other effects. Augmented reality effects are an option, too. 

6. Post your Reel to your Instagram page or story, or save the Reel to your drafts and keep working on it later. 

If a Reel is saved in your drafts, you can find it in the Reels tab on your profile. You can also post your Reel to the Explore page, so any Instagram user can see it. Other Instagram users can like, comment on or save your Reel. 

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Instagram/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Add videos you've already filmed to Instagram Reels

If you have a video on your phone that you want to turn into a Reel, here's how to do it: 

1. Open the Instagram app. 

2. Swipe right to open the Instagram camera.

3. Choose Reels at the bottom of the screen.

4. Swipe up to pull down your camera roll.

5. Select the video you want and use the trim option if needed.

6. Edit your video by adding audio, text or other effects.

7. Publish the video on your Instagram feed or story, or save it as a draft.

The Reels feature was first tested in India after TikTok was banned there. It was also tested in Brazil, France and Germany.

For more video help, check out our guide on how to become a YouTuber, and the best vlogging cameras