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How to Add Good Bokeh Effects in Instagram Stories

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Mar 27, 2024• Proven solutions

Instagram never ceases to come out with the latest and greatest features to help users create and publish professional-level photos and videos, among which is the Bokeh effect. The app has revolutionized the way we digest content and the standards for creativity are always on the rise. With Instagram now offering a Bokeh effect feature, users can get this professional photography effect from their phones (or desktops).

This article will teach you what the Bokeh effect is, how to add this effect when taking photos and videos from your phone, bokeh effect apps and how to apply this feature on a desktop computer.

Part 1: What is Bokeh Effect?

The word “Bokeh” or “boke” refers to the Japanese concept of “blur.” We’ve all seen images where one subject is in clear focus, and the rest of the image or video is blurred. This is the Bokeh effect in its most basic description. The reason this style of photography is so appealing is that it forces viewers to focus on a very specific part of the image, the part that is in focus.

A somewhat more complicated, but descriptive way to explain Bokeh is that it is not the actual blur of the background. The background blur is related to the depth of field in photography. Bokeh is the quality and feel of the reflected light points and surrounding “blur.” Complicated yet beautiful, and now accessible to people on mobile and desktop platforms.

Part 2: How to Apply the Bokeh Effect to Blur the Background of Instagram Stories

Adding the Bokeh Effect to your Instagram Story is easy, although not all mobile devices have this feature available. Worry not, there are a variety of apps you can download that can get you this effect, and you can upload your final image from the camera roll.

Steps for Adding the Bokeh Effect from the Instagram App

  1. Open Instagram and create a new story (click the + in the top left-hand corner of your home page or profile, or swipe right on the home page to access your Instagram camera).
  2. At the bottom of your screen, you will find Focus. If you do not see this function skip to the instructions on how to access this effect using alternative methods.
  3. Once Focus has been selected, you can take a photo or video that will feature the Bokeh effect. It is best achieved by photographing a person or a single object.
  4. You can still edit the image as desired using Instagram’s filter options after taking the image with the focus effect.
  5. Lastly, add to the story and you’re done!

Again, not all mobile devices are able to perform this function. I’ve compiled a list of third-party applications you can download to generate the same effect.

Part 3: Best Bokeh Effect Apps for iOS and Android

If you fall into the category of individuals whose Instagram does not include the Focus feature, there are a handful of apps you can use to create the Bokeh effect. Below I will share 2 apps that are perfect for adding bokeh effects to photos and videos.

1. Auto Blur Background - iOS & Android - FREE

bokeh effects app - Auto Blur Background

The Auto Blur Background app for iOS and Android is free to users and allows you to import images from your camera roll or take a photo right on the app for it to blur. Once you’ve set the desired amount of background blur you are provided with a variety of bokeh effects you can add.

To create an Instagram Story with the bokeh effect from this app:

  1. Import or take your photo on the Auto Blur Background application
  2. Edit as desired using a variety of tools offered at the bottom of your screen.
  3. To export, select the icon in the bottom right-hand corner
  4. From this step, you can either import directly to Instagram, or export to camera roll. If exported to camera roll, open the Instagram app and add a new story, select photo from camera roll and hit add to the story!


  • Variety of editing tools
  • Saving and sharing options are available
  • Editing tools are customizable
  • Easy to read interface


  • Ad placements appear multiple times while using the app
  • Blur function not always accurate for the image

2. AfterFocus - iOS & Android - $0.99

bokeh effects app - AfterFocus

AfterFocus is another Bokeh effect editing app you can use to import photos to your Instagram story with this feature. This app allows you to define the focus area and then the app does the rest of the work! This app has an extremely natural and professional appearance.

To add photos from AfterFocus to your phone:

  1. Select your image for editing using the variety of features provided.
  2. Select the export function and save to camera roll
  3. Open the Instagram app and add a new story by selecting the photo from your camera roll and hit add to the story!


  • Basic and advanced editing tools
  • Easily downloadable
  • Double photo feature


  • Ad placements appear multiple times while using the app

Part 4: How to Add the Bokeh Effect for Instagram Videos Using Wondershare Filmora

Now that you’ve learned a few different ways to create the Bokeh effect for Instagram on mobile, it’s time to learn how to add the bokeh effect to a video using your desktop. Here I recommend you try Wondershare Filmora, an easy-to-use yet powerful enough video editing software for Windows and Mac.

Download Filmora  Win Version Download Filmora   Mac Version

With Filmora, you can apply the tilt-shift circle or linear effects to give your content to create the bokeh effect easily. Follow the steps below to create the bokeh effects with Filmora for the Instagram Story video.

Upon downloading this software here are the steps to creating the tilt-shift effect:

  1. Launch Filmora and set up the aspect ratio to 1:1 accordingly for Instagram video, and then import your video media from your desktop, phone, or tablet to the editing software.
  2. Bring the clip you’re looking to edit from the upper box to your “timeline” (the lower box of your screen).
  3. Go to the Effects panel and find the utility category, you will see options for Tilt-shift Circle and Tilt-Shift Linear. Or you can use the search bar at the top and search tilt, and you will see the tilt-shift circle and tilt-shift linear.

add bokeh effect in Filmora

  1. Drag the effect over the portion of the clip you are editing. These effects can be adjusted to change the intensity, size and rotation of the effect.

add bokeh effect in Filmora

  1. Exporting media from Filmora is easy. Your content can be shared from this platform directly to YouTube and Vimeo, or save to your computer. Click the Export button in the main interface features, select the format with which you’d like your content to be saved as, and name your file accordingly. Select the location with which you will be exporting the content to and then hit Export.

Note: Besides using the tilt-shift circle and linear effects to make a bokeh result, you can also try some bokeh effects directly. Directly type “bokeh” in the search bar, and then try the bokeh overlays and effects.

add bokeh effect in Filmora


All in all, Instagram is a multifaceted platform that allows users to create and share their own unique content. The app is constantly including new features and options to help people maximize their creativity. Among these features is the Focus tool, or the Bokeh effect. Instagram Bokeh is possible on some, but not all, devices. If your Instagram account does not give you the option for the Focus feature, there are apps and platforms designed specifically to help you achieve this effect.

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Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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