How to delete Instagram or disable your account

Whether you need a break from the endless scroll or you're just simply tired, we walk you through deleting and disabling your IG account.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple, iPhone, iOS, Android, Samsung, Sony, Google, Motorola, interviews, coffee equipment, cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
5 min read

Instagram is my social media jam. I share photos with friends and see their pictures as well. It's a happy space for me, or at least it used to be. Instagram has changed drastically over the years. There are ads everywhere, and it feels more like Snapchat and Facebook than the hip photo-sharing site it once was. To make matters worse, researchers discovered that Instagram's website leaked user contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses. All this has gotten me to the point where I want to delete Instagram.

If you're like me and want to delete or deactivate your Instagram account, here's how to do it.

Unfortunately, there isn't a simple way to delete your Instagram account from the app. Check out the How To Delete Instagram video at the top from CNET's How To Do It All YouTube channel to follow along or get an overview of the process.


If you need a break or are ready to walk away from Instagram, you have a couple of options for your account.

Angela Lang/CNET

To delete or disable?

You have two main options for walking away from Instagram: Delete it or disable it. Deleting your account removes it permanently -- like Thanos snap permanent. Your profile, photos, videos, comments, likes, and follower list are gone forever - SNAP!

On the other hand, disabling your account hides it until you reactivate it by logging back in. It's kind of like when you buy that bag of cookies and push it to the back of your cabinet so you won't be tempted to scarf them all down in one sitting, but you know it's there for that tough day when you need some emotional cookie support. I've said too much.

Request your data for download: photos, videos and more

Before you decide to delete or disable, take a moment to download your data. If you're permanently deleting your account, this will be the only time you can retrieve any photos or videos you took or comments you want to save. Seriously you don't want that photo when you met Laura Dern to be gone forever.


I got to meet and interview Laura Dern as part of a coding event for young women hosted by the travel site Booking.com.

You can request a data download from either a web browser or from the app itself. Just a heads up, this is not an instantaneous process. Once you request to download your data, Instagram can take hours compiling it all for you to download.

Download data from the Instagram app:

1. Go to your profile.

2. Tap on the hamburger menu icon on the top right aka the three horizontal lines.

3. Tap on Settings at the bottom right of the screen.

4. Tap on Security.

5. Then, tap on Download Data.

6. From there, enter your email address and press the blue Request Download button.

Download data from a web browser:

1. Go to your profile.

2. Click the Edit Profile button.

3. Click Privacy & Security.

4. Scroll down to Data Download section and click Request Download.

5. From there, you enter your email address and press the blue Request Download button.

Your Instagram data is ready to download

Next, you'll receive an email with the subject line: Your Instagram Data. Open up the message and there will be a link to your data. This link is only good for four days. Also, it can take up to 48 hours for Instagram to send you the link. Though in my experience it took about an hour.


Before you permanently delete you account, take time to download your data.

Patrick Holland/CNET

When you click on the link, a folder will download with your photos and videos in them. There will also be separate files for everything from your profile information to your comments. Instagram puts these into a JSON file, which stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It uses text to show data making it easy to read by humans.

The only way I found these files was by dragging them into a Firefox browser window. It's kind of ugly, but you can read captions, comments, even your profile information if you want. If you are having trouble viewing the files in Firefox, here's a Mozilla webpage with some settings to check.

If you use Google Chrome's browser you'll need to download an extension to view the JSON files. On Apple's Safari, an extension is also needed to view JSON files.

Instagram made deleting your account easy

The quickest way to delete your account is to visit this Delete Your Account page via a web browser

You can't actually delete your account directly from the Instagram app, but you can navigate your way to the Delete Your Account page starting in the app if you prefer.

Delete Instagram by starting in the app

1. Go to your profile.

2. Tap on the hamburger menu icon on the top right (the three horizontal lines).

3. Tap on Settings at the bottom right of the screen.

4. Tap Help.

5. Tap Help Center, then a browser window will pop-up.

6. Tap Managing Your Account.

7. Tap Delete Your Account.

8. Tap How do I delete my account?

9. Scroll down to the first step and tap on the link to the Delete Your Account page.

Once you're on the Delete your account page, select a reason why you're deleting your account from the drop down menu. And yes, you really have to do this or you can't move on. Then, scroll down and enter your password when prompted.

Instagram has a special web page for deleting your account. Getting to the page from the app involves a ridiculous number of steps.


Finally, tap the red Permanently delete my account button. A window will pop-up asking if you're sure that you want to delete your account. Tap OK.

Take a break by disabling your account

If you'd just like to take a break away from the IG or are on the fence about permanently deleting your account I recommend disabling it instead. The fastest way to do this is to use a web browser and visit the Temporarily Disable Your Account page.

To get to the disable page via a web browser

1. Go to Instagram's website.

2. Log in to your account.

3. Click on your profile.

4. Click on the Edit Profile button.

5. Scroll down, then click Temporarily disable my account in the bottom right.

You can also navigate to the same page through the app but it is extremely tedious. Follow the directions above for getting to the Delete Your Account page from the Instagram app. Once that page has loaded, click on the link to the Temporarily Disable Your Account page.

If you just need a break from Instagram, try disabling your account temporarily.


Once you're on the page, select a reason why you're disabling your account from the drop down menu. Then, click the blue Temporarily Disable Account button. A window will pop-up asking if you're sure that you want to delete your account. Tap OK.

There! You're done and Insta-free. But if you do ever want to get back into the world of influencers and whatever IGTV is you can fire up your dormant account. To reactivate your account, simply log back into your app or online.