How to find someone on Instagram by username, name, phone number, mutual friends, and so much more. This post shows ways to find someone on Instagram.

The main point of social media is to connect with others. Your best friends, your colleagues, aunts, and uncles, that girl who left your school back in fifth grade. Whoever you choose to connect with is up to you.

But before you can connect with someone, you have to find their profile. Instagram usernames, or handles, don’t always match a person’s name as you know it. Plus, there are over 1 billion users on Instagram in 2023, so finding someone isn’t always so simple.

Here’s how to find someone on Instagram in 2023. We’ll explore various methods for finding the person you’re trying to connect with.

First thing first: a bit about the Instagram search bar

Before you jump into finding people, you should understand IG’s search bar. Look for the icon of a magnifying glass at the bottom of the app. Clicking this opens the search and discover page.

At the very top, you see the search bar and beneath that the content that Instagram recommends based on your search. The default content appears based on your habits using the app, but let’s ignore that for now.

I want to draw your attention to the five tabs that appear when you enter a search query. If you type in a name or word and hit Search, you’ll see five tabs appear:

  1. Top - This shows a mix of accounts, hashtags, and places. IG shows you things you’ve recently searched or interacted with, plus what it thinks you might like to find.  
  2. Accounts - Only accounts. People you follow or interact with regularly, celebrities, or popular influencers and brands towards the top.
  3. Audio - Audio clips that match your query in some way. These are often used to create IG reels, and aren’t really helpful for finding people.
  4. Tags - Popular hashtags related to your search query.
  5. Places - Geotags, or locations that are taggable on Instagram. The locations that appear will contain the word(s) contained in your query.
instagram search bar

Instagram’s algorithm uses your past behavior to predict what or who you’re looking for and displays what it thinks is most relevant first. Keep that in mind when learning how to find someone on Instagram.

12 ways for how to find someone on Instagram

Let's look at 12 ways that show you how to find someone on Instagram.

Search for their username

If you know the username/handle of the person you want to find, you don’t need to do too much work. Simply type their handle into the Instagram search bar and look for their profile:

  1. Click the magnifying glass icon to go to Search.
  2. Enter their username into the search bar.
  3. Find their account. If their account is private you’ll have to request to follow them before you can see their profile.

Remember that usernames on Instagram sometimes include funny spellings or characters. So for example, instead of @kate, I could be @kateee or @_kate. Keep this in mind when typing in the username of the person you want to find.

Search for their real name

If you don’t know someone’s handle, try searching for their actual name. They may have included it in their name or bio section on Instagram.

  1. Go to Search.
  2. Type the person’s first and/or last name into the box.
  3. See if any of the profiles that come up match the person you’re looking for.
Phoebe Bridgers search on instagram

Me searching for songstress Phoebe Bridgers. The blue check lets me know which account is the real her.

Check friends of friends

Maybe you can’t find the person you’re looking for, but you follow someone who knows them (or who might know them). You could see if your target person is either following or followed by the person you already know.

  1. Navigate to the profile of the person who you’re already connected with.
  2. Click on their followers, and/or following (you can try both here).
  3. Search for the name of the person you ultimately want to find.

You can also just DM the person you do know to see if they know the handle of the person you want to find.

friends of friends checking on instagram

What I’d do if I wanted to find someone who was a friend of @maple_the_mini_.

Search by places

If you don’t have any luck with the above methods, you could try to find someone via Places. Be warned, this will be a bit more difficult. But you can try to find someone based on the places that they might have tagged.

Do you know where the person is from? Maybe what their favorite hang-out place is? Where they go to the gym, or where they’ve just been on vacation?

search by location on instagram

Searching in Heepsy’s hometown, Bilbao.

If so, try searching those locations on the Instagram search page.

  1. Click the magnifying glass to go to Search.
  2. Enter the name of the place where you think you might find the person.
  3. Click the Places tab.
  4. Look through the content and see if you spot them.

Remember you can only find people this way if they have recently posted on IG and tagged the location you’re searching. Now, this might work for small towns or specific restaurants.

But if you’re trying to find someone in a huge city like New York or London, you’ll have a tough time. With so many people posting and tagging those places, finding your target will be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Blue banner with link to Heepsy

Search by hashtags

Hashtags work like keywords that people use to categorize their content for Instagram. If you post a picture of your new kitten and want other people who don’t follow you to be able to find that picture, you might use hashtags like #kitten, #catpics, or #kittensofinstagram.

If the person you’re trying to find is dedicated to some specific niche, you could potentially find them by searching for the right hashtags.

  1. Go to Search.
  2. Type the tag into the search bar.
  3. Click the Tags tab.
  4. Take a look at the content that’s been tagged with that tag to see if you find the person you’re looking for.

This strategy will only really work if the target person belongs to some specific niche that doesn’t have a ridiculously high number of uses. But if you’re trying to find someone with the hashtag #dogs, which has 160M posts associated with it, good luck. You might also simply be out of luck if the person you want to find never uses hashtags.

Use Discover People

Another way to find people is by using Instagram’s Discover people feature. This will suggest people who are in your network, usually because you share mutual contacts.

This is a good way to find someone on Instagram if you think that they’re connected to someone in your network but you’re not sure exactly who.

If you don’t have any connections whatsoever with the person you’re trying to find, they won’t show up here. But it only takes a minute to check, so it’s worth trying.

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Click the person icon next to Edit Profile.
  3. Click See all.
  4. You can now see all the people Instagram suggests you connect with.
discover people tool on instagram

This works similarly to how you see recommended friends on Facebook, which is of course because Meta owns both platforms. Instagram will show you accounts who your friends already follow, accounts that follow your friends, and accounts that follow you but whom you haven’t followed back.

Look up their phone number

If you have the person’s phone number but not their Instagram handle, you can find them by syncing your phone’s contacts to Instagram.

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Click the three lines icon at the top right.
  3. Go to Settings.
  4. Go to Account.
  5. Open Contact syncing.
  6. Make sure this is toggled on.

If you have the person’s number stored in your phone, they should now show up in Discover people. If not, add their phone number to your phone’s contacts and try again.

look up people you have on your contacts on instagram by their phone number

Sync your Facebook contacts

How to find someone on Instagram if you’re already friends on Facebook? Good news: you can also sync Facebook contacts.

  1. Follow the steps above to go to Discover People.
  2. At the top, look for the Facebook icon.
  3. Click Connect. Or, if your accounts are already linked, Sync.

If your IG and FB accounts are already connected but your contacts aren’t updated, you’ll see the Sync options instead of Connect.

Once that’s all set up, your Discover People will show you people you’re friends with on Facebook but not on Instagram.

Use an influencer discovery tool

If the person you want to find is an influencer (meaning they have a few thousand followers), you might be able to find them using an influencer discovery tool. These tools are mostly designed for brands, though some social media users also use them to find influencers to collaborate with.

These tools offer search filters to find users according to location, category, followers, etc. So if you know some data about the person you’re looking for, it could be a viable method.

Heepsy discovery tool

Reverse search their photo

Another way to find someone is by reverse searching their picture. Reverse image search is when you input an image to find someone’s information, instead of running a search query to find images of the person.

  1. Go to Google Images.
  2. Click the camera icon to access Search by image.
  3. Upload the photo you want to search.
  4. Check out the photos that match and the websites where they’re hosted.
reverse search photo example of Nicolas Cage

Do a Google search

When in doubt, turn to Google. If you can’t find someone on Instagram, search for them on Google. Try searching for their name, nickname, location, profession, hobby, and combinations of these.

Nicolas Cage and his hobby search on Google

An example of how you could try to find someone on Instagram using Google.

With the whole power of Google behind you, you’ll get much more thorough results than just on Instagram. And one of those results might be an Instagram page! Or, you might get the clues you need to piece together where to find that person on Instagram.

Bonus tip—just ask them!

If you’re learning how to find someone on Instagram, it’s probably because you don’t want to ask that person for their handle. In some cases, maybe you don’t want the person to know you’re looking for them.

Whatever, I won’t judge. That’s your business, and we’ve all social media stalked someone at some point.


But if you really want to find this person, why not just ask them for their IG? Nowadays it’s so common for people to trade Instagrams, LinkedIns, TikToks, Facebooks, Discords, Twitches, and so on. So why not just ask them if they have an Instagram account and spend the time you’d use searching on something else?

Why you might not be able to find someone on Instagram

If all your searches fail, consider why you can’t find this person on Instagram. It could be for a variety of reasons, and some of them don’t have anything to do with your skills as an Instagram detective.

  • They don’t have an account. 1 billion people use Instagram, but there are still another 7 billion people on the planet.
  • You spelled their name or username wrong. Remember some names have various spellings. Are they Amy or Aimee? John or Jon?
  • Their account did exist, but it was deleted, suspended, or blocked. Maybe they chose to get rid of their IG account, or maybe the network banned them for some reason.
  • They might be shadowbanned. Maybe you KNOW that the person you want to find was posting on Instagram recently, but you can’t find them for the life of you. It could be that while their account still exists, they’ve been shadowbanned. This means their profile and content won’t appear in searches.
  • There’s a bug affecting search. Instagram is a massive company, but even huge companies sometimes have problems with their tech. If anything else seems off while you’re searching, Instagram might coincidentally be suffering from a bug while you’re searching.

Let’s recap

We’ve covered 12 methods for how to find someone on Instagram. Even if it’s not easy to find the person you’re looking for, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Try out these 12 ways to find them, and good luck with your hunt!

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