Periodic downloads

instaLooter may be used to update a local mirror of an instagram account, and as such it may be desired to run it periodically, without needing to update manually.


To support the UNIX philosophy, the program do not implement this feature itself but should integrate well with established alternatives. The following examples make use of either Cron or SystemD timers.


First of all, make sure Cron is installed, and if not, refer to the package manager of your distribution (if you’re on MacOS, give a try to homebrew if not using it already !).

Then, edit Cron to add a scheduled task:

$ crontab -e

This will open a file using the $EDITOR system variable to find a text editor, such as nano, pico, vi, etc. Then, add one line as one of the examples below to run instaLooter periodically (you can add more than one line if you have more than one goal in mind):

  • Download maximum 3 new #funny videos to ~/Videos every hour:

    @hourly /usr/bin/env python -m instaLooter hashtag funny ~/Videos -N -n 3 -V
  • Download new pictures w/ metadata from the instagram account at every reboot:

    @reboot /usr/bin/env python -m instaLooter instagram ~/Pictures/instagram -Nm
  • Use a configuration file to download in Batch mode every week on Sunday, 00:00

    @weekly /usr/bin/env python -m instaLooter batch ~/myLooter.ini

To disable a scheduled task, simply remove the line associated to that task within crontab.

See also

  • The CronHowTo hosted on for a complete understanding of the crontab line format.


You’ll probably use this alternative if your system is already running on top of SystemD. If not, you should probably turn to Cron. Simply check for the existence of a systemctl executable (e.g. running systemctl --help) to see if you’re using SystemD.

Create a new service file, either in /etc/systemd/system/ for system-wide jobs, or in ~/.config/systemd/user/ for user-only jobs, named for instance looter.service (you can use any name as long as the file has a .service extension), with the following content:

Description=my custom periodic instagram looter

ExecStart=/usr/bin/env python -m instaLooter <the parameters I want>

Make sure the instaLooter module is accessible to the systemd manager, i.e. if you’re using system-wide jobs that the module was installed in /usr (not with pip insta --user instaLooter but with pip install instaLooter).

To test your service, run systemctl start looter.service (using the name of your file), or systemctl --user start looter.service if you want to use user-only jobs. There should be no output if everything works fine.

If a bug occurs check the logs with journalctl:

# journalctl looter.service
$ journalctl --user --user-unit looter.service

Once your service works fine, create a timer for your new service, named like and located next to your service file, but with a .timer extension, and the following content:

Description=run my custom periodic instagram looter hourly

# Time to wait after booting before we run first time
# Time between running each consecutive time

Finally, enable and start your timer with one of the following commands:

# systemctl start looter.timer && systemctl enable looter.timer
$ systemctl --user start looter.timer && systemctl --user enable looter.timer

To disable the timer, use the same command as above, replacing start with stop and enable by disable, and remove the service and timer files if you want to completely uninstall the timer.

See also