It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Instagram is the king of mobile photo-sharing apps. After all, for an app that has a staggering 1 billion active users per month — and over 500 million active users every single day — that’s certainly a well-deserved title!
Sharing photos isn’t the only thing that Instagram is useful for, though. Much like other social media platforms, Instagram has a private messaging feature called, appropriately enough, Direct Message (or DM, for short).
By the end of this article, you’ll know pretty much everything you need to know about sending and receiving Instagram messages (plus a few special tricks as well).
The Basics of Sending Instagram Messages
In a nutshell, the DM feature allows you to send photos, videos, and (of course) text-only messages to other Instagram users, regardless of whether they’re following you or not. (Now, as to how they’ll see your messages is a different story. Don’t worry — we’ll go into further detail on thatonn a little later).
This feature is great for when you want to share pictures or videos to just a select group of people, send a private reaction to a friend’s post, or even just catch up with an Instagram contact you haven’t spoken to in a long time. You can also send links via an Instagram Direct Message, which is useful for sharing (since the platform still doesn’t allow links to be posted alongside your actual updates).
You can access the DM feature by tapping on the small icon at the top right of your Instagram app. (Hint: It’s the one that looks like a folded paper airplane!). Alternatively, you can just swipe left when you’re browsing your Instagram Feed.
When you’re in your DM inbox, you can send messages to individual users, start a group conversation with multiple users, or check the messages you’ve received or group chats you’re part of. Additionally, there’s a Search bar where you can look for past conversations with other Instagram users. You can also access your camera by tapping on the bar at the bottom of your DM inbox.
Now, there are two ways to send Instagram messages, and both of them are quite simple.
Method 1: Sending Instagram messages via the DM inbox
- Tap the DM icon, or swipe left on your Feed.
- Tap the cross-shaped icon located at the top-right corner of your DM inbox.
- Choose the user (or users) you would like to start a conversation with.
- Start writing your message in the field at the bottom of the screen.
- You may tap the camera icon to send a disappearing photo or video (meaning it can only be viewed for a limited period of time). You can also select the picture icon to send a photo or video saved in your phone’s library.
- Once you’re done, tap Send.
Method 2: Sending Instagram messages via the user’s profile
- Go to the Instagram page of the user you wish to send a message to.
- Tap on the Message button located next to the user’s profile photo.
Take note that this button will only appear if you’re following the account.
- Follow steps 4 to 6 above.
The DM feature also lets you know whether the user or group has already read your message or not. (There are ways to get around this, however — keep reading to find out!)
How to Check Your Instagram Direct Messages
You can check your Instagram Direct Messages any time, regardless of whether you got a new message or not. (Just make sure you’re logged in to the right account on your iOS or Android device before you go to the DM inbox!)
If there’s a new message waiting for you, a numeral (which indicates the number of new messages you’ve received) should appear right on top of the DM icon.
To check your messages, simply tap on the DM icon. From there, you can tap on any message or group chat to view the message, and reply by writing in the message field.
Tapping the arrow at the top-left corner of the app will take you back to the previous screen.
Tips and reminders on sending and receiving Instagram messages
- If you want to respond to a message quickly with a photo or video, but don’t want to open the message itself, just tap on the camera icon on the right side of the message notification to access your smartphone’s camera immediately.
- If you’re looking for an important piece of information in your messages and you can’t remember who sent it to you, don’t worry. The Search function allows you to look for a particular keyword or term, and will show you all the conversations where the term appears.
- When people you don’t follow send you Instagram messages, they don’t go straight to your DM inbox. Instead, they’ll show up as message requests. Much like in Facebook Messenger, you’ll have the option to accept or decline the message (and this doesn’t notify the user of your choice). Accepting the message allows you to respond, and the sender to continue your conversation, even without any mutual following. If you decline, however, the sender will no longer be able to contact you via DM. (He or she will still be able to check your profile, though.)
Checking Instagram Messages on PC? It’s Possible!
If you’re using your home desktop or laptop, you can still access instagram by visiting the website via your preferred browser. From there, you can check your feed and your own profile… but not much else.
That’s because the website doesn’t allow you to send or read DMs. This was initially an intentional design choice on the part of the developers. More likely, it reflects their desire to keep things as simple and unique for the platform as possible (and likely to encourage people to download and use the app instead of just going to the website).
But what if there’s something so important, so exciting, so Instagram-worthy that you absolutely have to share with your friends right at that instant, and you can’t use your phone?
Fortunately, there’s a workaround for that which PC users with Windows 10 can take advantage of. Even better, it lets you take videos and photos via your PC’s hardware.
Here’s the simple workaround, for Windows 10 users:
- Visit the Microsoft App Store website.
- Search for the Instagram app.
- On the app page, click the Get button.
- Once the download is complete, click Launch, and wait for the app to start.
- Permit the Instagram app to access your existing contacts.
- Go to the bottom of the app and look for the Sign In field.
- Enter your credentials to sign in.
That’s it, really. Through the app, you can check AND send messages. Just follow the steps we discussed in the previous sections. Pretty neat, isn’t it? It’s almost as convenient as sending messages via your phone.
Sending videos and photos on Instagram messages via PC
What’s more, the app also allows you to send photos and videos on the fly! You can even edit your freshly taken photos before sending them to your friends. This requires two things, though: your PC’s camera and microphone.
- While you’re in the DM inbox or looking at your feed, click on the camera icon (bottom of the DM inbox or top of the Feed, whichever applies).
- Afterwards, simply click on Enable Camera Access and Enable Microphone Access, clicking Yes after each time.
- You can now take a photo of your room or your selfie. After you’ve done so, you can add stickers, captions, and other decorative elements before sending.
- After you’re done with the edits, click Send To. You’ll then be able to select the recipient (or recipients) of your photo from the list of people who follow you.
- Click Send.
Note: Using the microphone usually requires enabling microphone permissions manually. Here’s how to do it.
- Press the Windows key and the letter I on your keyboard simultaneously.
- Once you reach the settings window, navigate to Privacy > Microphone.
- Look for Instagram in the list, and verify if the Microphone permissions are turned on or off.
- Afterwards, go back to step 2 in the previous list and confirm the Enable Microphone Access option.
What You Can’t Send in Instagram Messages on PC
Naturally, the Instagram app for the PC only has limited functionality — and the DM feature is no exception. While you can send photos and videos you recorded on the fly, you cannot send images and videos already saved on your computer. Furthermore, the Instagram Stories feature cannot be used in conjunction with the DM feature on the PC.
Replying to Instagram Messages via Your Facebook Page
As you probably already know, you can sync your Instagram account with your Facebook account. That means that, among other things, you have the option to post whatever content you have on Instagram easily and simultaneously for your Facebook followers to see. However, having to switch between apps can be quite tedious, especially when you are professionally managing a Facebook page and frequently find yourself having to reply to a dozen inquiries at any given point in time.
Thus, it may come as a relief to quite a few of us that as of this year, Facebook allows Page admins to look at Instagram messages via the Facebook Page inbox and send replies through the Page as well. This makes sense, since Instagram falls the Facebook group of apps.
(Worried (or excited) that this signals the merging of the various instant messaging platforms under Facebook? Hold your horses! Mark Zuckerberg himself has confirmed that this won’t be happening anytime soon. Still, it would be interesting to see that happen, as it would connect users across different platforms and make cross-platform communication even easier.)
Beware: The Seenzone of Instagram Messages
As mentioned earlier, Instagram lets you know if the recipient of your message has already opened and read your DM. This is helpful for you as a sender… but as a recipient, it might be kind of annoying. After all, in this age of instant communication, not being able to send a reply immediately can easily send the wrong message (figuratively) to the person who contacted you. That becomes a problem when the subject matter of the message is something you simply can’t discuss or provide an answer for at the moment. Plus, it feels a bit awkward, knowing that the person who sent you a message may silently be waiting for you to respond, just because they already know that you’ve read their message.
Now, you might be wondering if there’s an option to disable this feature. Unfortunately, much like other instant messaging apps, you can’t prevent Instagram from revealing that you’ve already seen the message.
However, there IS a way for you to read the message without alerting Instagram that you’ve already done so. It’s all a matter of being a bit crafty with the way you open it in the first place.
How to Read Instagram Messages Stealthily
- When you see that notification on your phone indicating that you received a new message, do NOT tap on it. Otherwise, you’ll go directly to the new message and trigger the “Seen” status.
- Go to your Instagram App.
- Tap on the DM icon to go to your inbox.
- Before you open the new message, disconnect from the internet. Depending on how you’re connected to the internet, you may either turn off your WiFi connection, disable your mobile data, or simply set your phone to Airplane Mode.
- Open the new message and read its contents.
- Don’t reconnect yet! Log out of you Instagram account by going to your profile page, tapping on the menu (the three lines near the top-right corner of your screen), tapping on Settings, and then tapping on the “Log out” option.
- After you’ve successfully logged out, reconnect to the internet.
- Log in to your Instagram account and voila! The message won’t register as “Seen.”
Now that you’re well-acquainted with the different ways you can use the Instagram Direct Message feature, you’ll be able to communicate with your friends (or keep people you don’t know personally at bay without “seenzoning” them).