Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (2023)

Creative people flock to Instagram daily for its bounty of delicious eye-candy and designing the perfect stream of posts to keep your audience satisfied is an art-form in itself! At Creatively Squared we are always keen to curate the most amazing looking Instagram grid to help inspire our community and we've been reviewing the top apps to do just this for a number of years now. Each time we revisit our go-to apps we are impressed with the additions of more powerful features, better integrations and smarter ways to add media.

We've rounded up our top free apps and are discussing every detail that might help you decide which is the one for you.

Most of these apps have premium versions accessible via a paid subscription but for a level playing field we will be comparing just the free versions and functions of these apps. Professional and power-users will likely need more functionality than what the basic free versions of these apps supply but for your average user they will be more than sufficient.

In a rush to make a decision and just want to get planning? Skip straight to our summary at the end!

Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (1)


iOS | Android | Web

Later is a much more powerful social media scheduler than some of the other apps we reviewed. It has some great functionality such as the ability to cross-post content on multiple platforms. However if you just want to plan your Instagram feed these added features can bring some unnecessary complexity to the platform.

It does provide an all-in-one solution to your Instagram account from managing your one clickable bio URL with to being able to schedule your Instagram stories on top of regular posts. We also loved it's 'first comment' feature that auto-posts all your hashtags neatly into a comment underneath your post.

One of the best things about Later is it's media library which enables you to effortlessly source content from a variety of sources to have ready to drop into your feeds.

If you like to plan your posts visually you might find this app a bit cumbersome as you must first schedule a post to see how it would look it in the grid planner. There is however a drag and drop version hidden away in the mobile app under the 'quick scheduler' function.

This almost feels like a separate version of the app which enables to you to allocate your preferred posting times each day and quick drop your posts into those slots and rearrange as you see fit.

Post types: Standard ✓ Video ✓ Carousel ✓ Stories ✓

Media Integrations: Files ✓ Camera ✓ Dropbox ✓ Google Drive ✓ Instagram ✓ Websites ✓

Things we liked:

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  • Sophisticated media library that you can pre-populate with great content from various sources
  • Search and repost feature is amazing, as we feature a lot of different peoples photos on the Creatively Squared Instagram account this means we aren’t losing quality by taking screen shots of the images to share them.
  • How simple it is to regram content from other accounts and to grab images from your website or blog to share
  • Easy sync between mobile and desktop apps
  • You can add other social media accounts. Aside from Instagram, Later also let you schedule posts for Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. This is heaven-sent if you want to distribute the same content throughout your other social channels.

Things to consider:

  • Some aspects of the web app weren't super intuitive such as drafting a new post. I kept feeling like I was looking for a + or 'new post' button to create something
  • Feed preview in the web app was hard to find as was the drag drop visual planner in the mobile app
  • No options to edit or crop photos once they are added to the media library

Pricing: Free for one Instagram account and up to 30 posts per month

Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (2)


iOS | Android | Web

Planoly is definitely a hot contender for a top all-in-one content planner for Instagram.

The mobile and web app interfaces are well designed and easy to navigate. Both iterations support all the same features and are easy to use in tandem.

Many users will love the added content calendar planning function which is a clever way to mark important dates and make notes about upcoming content - you can even add a colour code to each one. This feature combined with the image placeholder function enables you to start drafting a post even if your image isn't ready yet.

The discover feature is handy for finding images to repost from Instagram or from free stock sites. Perfect for those to like to integrate aspirational or moodboard style images into their accounts. In the draft section you can play around with the design of different themed grids before integrating them into your feed.

Planoly's design feels a bit less 'tech' and more 'girlboss', which we liked but some might not! It is definitely geared towards professional users and we found that a lot of features we only available to those on Business accounts so those with personal accounts may be locked out of a number of functions (primarily due to Instagrams API).

Those in eCommerce will love the 'Shoplink' feature which adds Instagrams shopping links on to your scheduled posts.

Post types: Standard ✓ Video ✓ Carousel ✓ Stories ✓

Media Integrations: Files ✓ Camera ✓ Dropbox ✓ Google Drive ✓ Instagram ✓

Things we liked:

  • Integration with their own stories design app
  • Content calendar (this could be worth the switch in itself!)
  • Saved hashtags grouping

What could be better:

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  • No image editing on free version

Pricing: Free for one user and Instagram account for up to 30 posts per month

Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (3)


iOS | Android | Web

Plann is a visual Instagram planner with a simple drag and drop interface. Adding new content is a breeze, you can upload directly from your device or via Google Drive or Dropbox, or even import from 3 major royalty-free stock sites for instant content if you’re ever stuck for something to post.

If you like to adjust your photos once they are placed in your grid, Plann allows you to edit, crop and enhance your photos directly from the app. If you want to get even more creative you'll love their Canva Integrations where you can access your own, or build brand new designs straight from Canva, inside Plann. (Plann mobile app also integrates with Canva Stories App for stories.) This is a feature to watch and might get a lot of people over the line.

Switching between your desktop and mobile is simple and the web app has a well thought out, designer interface. You can even use Plann to cross post your best performing content across Facebook, and LinkedIn automatically.

Post types: Standard ✓ Video ✓ Carousel ✓ Stories ✓ Multi-post Stories ✓

Add media from: Files ✓ Camera ✓ Dropbox ✓ Google Drive ✓ Google Photos ✓ Canva ✓ Pexels ✓ Unsplash ✓ Pixabay ✓

Things we liked:

  • User friendly and intuitive. You don’t have to spend time watching tutorials. It’s very easy to use.
  • Drag and drop arrangement and enlarged grid view for planning.
  • Save hashtags. You can store your favourite collections of hashtags ready to copy and paste straight onto your future posts.
  • Desktop app is well designed and simple to navigate, with a new mobile app that syncs seamlessly.
  • Save to camera roll feature. This is helpful if you edit the image within the app but want to save it to your phone for further use.
  • ‘Share to Plann’ from any app on your phone. If you’re managing multiple accounts they’ll help you import directly to the right account for either posts or stories.
  • Content Calendar. With Plann you’re able to add blog posts, Instagram story takeovers and email newsletters to a calendar view so you’re on top of your entire marketing workflow.

Things to consider:

  • There is no media library in the mobile app for you to save posts that you aren’t ready to place into your grid yet
  • The mobile app supports Instagram publishing but does not yet support LinkedIn and Facebook platforms, which are managed on Plann webapp.

Pricing: Free for one Instagram account and up to 30 posts per month


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Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (4)


iOS | Android

If you are looking for a super simple app to visually plan and schedule basic posts from your phone - Preview is it. It doesn't come with all the bells and whistles of the other apps and although there is a desktop version you can not access it from the free version of the app.

It's unlikely that you'll need any help navigating your way around but if you do they have some tutorials available in the app.

The free version of the app has unlimited posts (whereas most of it's competitors are capped at 30 per month)

You can crop and edit your images in app and the supplied filters are surprisingly nice, although you are limited to just 2 packs on the free version.

There's not really much more to say about Preview aside from it's a slick looking app that delivers exactly what it came to do and nothing else!

Post types: Standard ✓ Video ✓ Carousel ✓

Media Integrations: Files ✓ Camera ✓ Free Stock Photos ✓

Things we liked:

  • Easy to log in, simple interface
  • Saved hashtags grouping
  • Easy to rearrange content in carousels

What could be better:

  • Analytics only show the last 7 days
  • Doesn't support Instagram stories
  • You have to manually delete posts once they go live to remove from your grid

Pricing: Free for one user and Instagram account for unlimited posts. Note - Can only access desktop version with Premium plan

Top 5 free apps for curating the perfect Instagram feed (5)

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iOS | Android | Web

As one of the more creative planning apps on the market we really wanted to love Unum. Unfortunately recent updates have had a detrimental effect on the user experience and due to speed and bugs in the system, the time it took to get started was far longer than with it's competitors.

Navigating the interface of both the mobile and web app wasn't very intuitive and it lacked a lot of features and integrations that are supported by other apps on the market.

Visually it has some good features and enables a lot of creative control over the look and feel of your grid. Unum has filters and tools to edit your images in app, as well as some editable templates for creating Instagram stories. You can create multiple versions of your grid and drag drop to arrange the order of your posts. Another feature we liked was the 'grid shift’ which allows you to toggle the view between your upcoming posts and how the grid will look directly after the next one goes live.

Scheduling seemed like a secondary feature to the visual grid planner and there were no options for auto post. Unum has very basic analytics and you can save drafts and captions such as a recent tags feature for remembering hashtags you use regularly.

Post types: Standard ✓ Stories ✓

Media Integrations: Camera Roll ✓ Pexels ✓ Unsplash ✓ Google Drive (web app only) ✓ Drop Box (web app only) ✓

Things we liked:

  • Instagram Story templates were a nice feature
  • Some users will like the option to design an offset grid
  • Phantom mode for temporarily hiding a post

What could be better:

  • Didn't like the big empty grid that came pre-filled with grey squares.
  • App was a bit buggy and it took ages to sign up connect to our profile which didn't work at all on the web app
  • Speed, so so so slow
  • No save to camera roll feature for photos edited in app


Choosing the right app for you is a personal choice and the different features will appeal to different people. All of these apps have the same basic functionality and promote safe posting via notifications, analytics and support multiple Instagram accounts.

Later - Use it if you want a powerful social media scheduling tool for distributing your content across multiple channels.

Planoly - Use it if you want a professional scheduling tool where you can stay organised with a content calendar and visual planner in one.

Plann - Use it if you want a visual planning tool for Instagram that gives you creative control over the visual look of your feed

Preview - Use it if you want a super simple visual planner on your smartphone that gets the job done.

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Unum - Use it if you want something that allows you to be a bit more creative and experimental and you don’t mind a bit of a learning curve

Note: This article was originally published in January, 2017 and was updated in May, 2020


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