Private profiles are a great way to safeguard your own Instagram account, but if you want to view someone else’s private profile, things can get tricky. Like any major social media app, Instagram has numerous safety/privacy features to keep your experience as welcoming as possible. Users can hide certain words, limit unwanted interactions with users, disable comments, block mentions, etc.

Another popular privacy feature on Instagram is the ability to make your account private. Switching to a private Instagram account takes just a few taps and seconds — though the impact is significant. With a private account, only approved followers can see photos/videos from that account. If you’re following the account, the posts show up like normal. If you’re not following the account, you won’t be able to see the posts at all.

Related: Privacy Checks Instagram: What The Bug Is & How To Fix It

While private accounts are undeniably useful, many users wonder how they can view someone’s Instagram profile if it’s been set to private. Upon viewing a private Instagram profile, visitors can only see the person’s profile picture, their number of posts, how many followers they have, and their bio/description if they have one. And that’s it. The user’s actual profile — including all of their photos and videos — is blocked with a message that says, ‘This account is private.’ So, how do you see what a private Instagram profile is hiding?

There’s Only One Way To View Private Profiles

Switching an Instagram account to private

The answer is quite simple. If someone has a private Instagram profile and you want to view it, the only way to do so is by submitting a follower request. Tap the blue ‘Follow’ button on the user’s profile page like you would for any other account. Instead of immediately letting you follow the account and see the user’s posts, the button changes to say ‘Requested.’ If the person with the private Instagram profile accepts the follower request, you can view their profile with free-range. If they deny your request or ignore it, the private profile remains hidden from you.

And that’s really all there is to it. There are some applications that claim to have workarounds for viewing private Instagram profiles, but those are bound to do more harm than good. They could be riddled with harmful malware, viruses, and other bugs that infect your computer. And even if those apps do somehow work, it’s an unethical breach of the person’s privacy.

Here’s what it all really boils down to: Anyone with a private Instagram account has made it private for a reason. If you want to view that profile, request to follow it and hope you’re accepted. If you are, great! If not, move on and look for other Instagram accounts to follow. It’s that simple.