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How Do You Know Whether Your Instagram Direct Message Has Been Read?

Posted by Robert Hayes on November 5, 2019

When Instagram rolled out in 2010 as a social-based photo-sharing app, few people imagined the explosive growth that the app would enjoy. In fact, by March of 2019 there had been more than 95 million daily posts to Instagram, and over 500 million people around the world share new Instagram Stories every day. An entire generation of young people has grown up with aspirations to become “Instagram Influencers” as a legitimate PR and marketing career. Not only is Instagram a leading photo- and video-sharing platform, but the site has expanded over the years to add new functionalities to satisfy its feature-hungry users.

One such feature was the addition of Direct Messages (DMs) in late 2013. Although it took longer for DMs to catch on than the app’s creators had expected, DMs are now a go-to method of communication for the social-media-aware set. Direct messaging features in social media apps have an interesting psychology associated with them. Users who are ordinarily very patient and laid-back can become very agitated when they become involved with direct message technology, on Instagram or any other platform. As the “direct” name might suggest, the immediate gratification of the service creates an expectation of an instant or at least very rapid response by the other party to the conversation. While people might ordinarily leave a voice-mail and then wait contentedly for someone to get back to them in the due course of a day, waiting longer than 30 seconds for a reply to a DM or social media post may be an excruciating exercise in patience.

For those of you who have experienced the agony of waiting seemingly endless minutes for a reply to a particularly poignant DM, it is possible to at least squelch some of the waiting pains. In this article, I am going to show you how to tell whether your Instagram direct message has been read. While that won’t help you receive a reply any sooner, you will at least know that the other party is aware of your message.  I’ll also teach you how to flip the coin on the people who message you, too, as we discuss how to keep people from finding out whether you’ve received their messages or not.

How to Use Instagram Direct Messaging

If you haven’t ever used Instagram DMs, let’s first review how they work. DMs are very useful and straightforward (in contrast to some other Instagram features, which require their own tutorials). Instagram DMs don’t offer anything that other chat apps don’t offer, but having the service built right into the app can allow you and your friends to have a dialog focused on picture postings without having to switch between apps.

There are a couple of different ways to send a Direct Message:

  1. Open Instagram and log in.
  2. Select the paper plane icon in the top right of the app. This opens Instagram Direct and displays a list of your Instagram connections.  If you have any DMs waiting for you, there will be a number on the tip of the paper plane’s nose.
  3. Tap the person you want to send a message to or tap the symbol of a pencil on paper in the upper right hand corner to just write in the username of someone you aren’t connected to.
  4. Write your message in the text box.  If you wish to add photos and more, choose the options from the icons next to the text box.
  5. Hit Send.

Instagram DMs work more or less the same as messaging in any other normal chat app; the message is sent internally within the app’s own platform (not sent externally as with an SMS message) and the recipient can usually see the DM instantaneously.

Another method of accessing the DM system is through viewing someone’s profile. This is quite useful when you stumble across a profile with content you like or recognize and want to reach out to that person.

  1. View someone’s profile.
  2. Select Message from buttons in the middle of the screen.
  3. Write the message as you normally would in the box at the bottom.
  4. Hit Send.

Unlike some platforms, where messages from people who aren’t connected are considered somewhat suspect, in Instagram DMs are always sent right to the recipient’s mailbox. Instagram does this to increase the level of engagement between its users.

Has your Instagram direct message has been read?

Instagram provides immediate feedback to tell you that a message has been read (or at least seen) by its recipient. If the message is private (one on one), you will see ‘Seen’ under your message when the recipient has read it.

In a group message, you will see a small eye icon next to the usernames of those who have read your Instagram direct message.

Reading Messages While Remaining Invisible

There are times when you might just be busy and not have time to engage with someone via DM, but still want to check their messages for important content and later response.  While the method to do this involves a bit of effort, it’s not too difficult. Basically, the idea is to disconnect your device from the Internet before reading the message, so that you can’t send a read receipt.

If for any reason you don’t want people to know you have read their Instagram direct message, try this:

  1. Do not immediately open the DM when you see it arrive.
  2. Turn off WiFi and/or cellular data or switch your phone to Airplane mode.
  3. Now you can open the message and read it. This will queue up a read receipt to send, but it can’t send because there’s no Internet.
  4. Return to your profile page or leave the conversation.
  5. Log out and then shut down the Instagram app.
  6. Turn on WiFi and/or cellular data or switch Airplane mode off.
  7. You can open Instagram if you need to but don’t go back into the conversation. If you do, the app will send the queued read receipt.

There are many reasons why you may not want to send a read receipt for Instagram direct messages. This method works on Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and many other social networks. Use it well!

Are there other ways to tell whether your Instagram direct message has been read? Got any other ways to avoid sending read receipts? Tell us about them below!

If you’re a regular user of Instagram, check out our resources for Insta fans!

Here’s our guide to changing the font in your Instagram story.

We’ve got a tutorial on how to download and save someone else’s Instagram video.

Here’s a walkthrough on how to view someone’s Instagram story without them knowing.

We’ve got a great tutorial on how to add a picture or video to an existing Instagram story.

Here’s our piece on how to delete a single image from an Instagram post.

9 thoughts on “How Do You Know Whether Your Instagram Direct Message Has Been Read?”

Marina says:
Is it me or is there a limit on Instagram direct messages? I am not able to send IG DMs anymore. I have tried all the solution options but nothing really changed. Ingramer and Instazood helped me out, so i can chat with my folks again (at least from PC). Although sometimes Instazood does not let me log in… fortunately, Ingramer is always ready to help me. That is great but how can i fix the problem with Instagram app?
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maci says:
my messages will say seen under them before the other person has even opened it, has this happened to anyone else?
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Travis says:
I replied to an Instagram story and was able to see that my reply was “seen”. Several hours later I replied to another story that posted and the “seen” icon from the first post disappeared. Does that mean I have been muted?
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Jade says:
I sent a message to someone I follow but doesn’t follow me back. There’s caption saying I can’t click the camera above for video call but my messages aren’t labelled seen or delivered or sent.. now I don’t know if it’s been seen or delivered or sent or what.. why is it?
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Angelica says:
I want to know how can i tell when someone is on Instagram on there i phone
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Ron says:
It’s says active by the dms list
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Matt says:
If you just look at the messages screen, and you can see the bolded unread new message, but you don’t tap to open the new message, does it still say seen?
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dude says:
yeah, it doesn’t say seen or have the eye on mine either. guess they got rid of that feature?
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Lily says:
On my phone it doesn’t say seen or show a little eye icon? The message goes up and I don’t known who’s seen it? Please help?!
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Steve says:
My insta seen receipts have been gone for months. I only know if someone read my message because there’s a gap where the “seen” label would be. It even happened on different phones and on my dog’s insta account.

Any idea what this is about? I can’t find any info anywhere.

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