What Does No Filter Mean on Instagram?

By Andy Warycka

Unfiltered Instagram images are uncommon enough to warrant their own hashtag.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Instagram allows you to mark uploaded images with hashtags -- those little one-word descriptions with the number symbol in front of them -- so other users can find photos containing those terms in a search. One of the most popular hashtags on Instagram is "#nofilter," which may seem confusing at first to the new Instagram user.

Forgo the Filter

Instagram offers an amazing array of effects, or filters, that you can apply to your images to give them a vintage look, add or subtract color saturation, turn them sepia or black and white, and much more. Since it’s so common for Instagram users to add a filter to enhance their photos, some people have taken to using the "#nofilter" hashtag when posting unaltered images to indicate that what you’re seeing is exactly what they were seeing. It’s particularly common on sunsets, blue skies and other nature scenes to indicate that the image is unretouched.

Filter Fakers

The Instagram software doesn’t match hashtags to the content, so it’s entirely possible to use a filter and tag it with the "#nofilter" hashtag, so you may run across some photos that seem too good to be true. If you’re curious whether an image is the real deal or not, you can plug the URL into Filter Fakers (link in Resources) and it will check the image data to see if it truly is filter-free.