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Can Someone Tell If You Screenshot a Story or Post in Instagram?

Posted by Robert Hayes on May 8, 2019

Back in February of 2018, Instagram announced that it was going to start alerting users when someone took a screenshot of their story. Instagram Stories are scrolling updates that people can post on their Instagram feed that auto-delete after 24 hours have passed, and were meant to be temporary. However, lots of people would take screenshots of the story image(s), which theoretically went against the whole idea of a Story. Because of that, Instagram decided to start alerting users when screenshots were taken by putting a starlike icon next to the handle of whoever had screenshotted you.

It looked like this.

Instagram apparently got a lot of pushback from its userbase on this decision. In fairness, the fact that stories disappear in 24 hours isn’t really a way to preserve anyone’s privacy – rather, it’s a way of keeping the content fresh and avoiding the creation of an enormous feed that people have to scroll through to get to the good stuff. Stories are terrific for transient updates that you don’t particularly need to archive forever, but it’s pretty rare for anyone to post something to a story that they’d be upset that someone archived. So, in June of 2018, Instagram announced that the feature was being eliminated.

So for the moment (May 2019), no, people cannot tell that you have screenshotted or screen recorded their Instagram Story. However, read on…

How Screenshots Used to Work on Instagram Stories

When the feature was in place, Instagram would use software to detect the activation of the screenshot feature on a smartphone. The notification was triggered by one of three things:

  • Taking a screenshot of an Instagram post or story
  • Recording a screen while checking out someone’s Instagram
  • Recording a screen while looking at a story that includes a video

In fairness, they warned people it was going to happen.

Instagram didn’t message users who have their posts captured won’t receive an immediate notification. Rather, the star icon would appear next to users who had taken a screenshot of a post or Story in the “Seen By” list for that posting. If this system sounds kind of familiar, that’s because it’s a straight copy of the way that Snapchat (which DOES notify users of a screenshot) handles their notification.

Because Instagram could change their mind and start recording screenshots again, we are preserving the record of how to bypass that functionality in this article.

Avoid Screenshot Detection Using Airplane Mode

One way to avoid the notification badge is to set your smartphone to airplane mode and take a screenshot while your device is offline. The downside of doing this is that you will only see one or two posts, because your phone is offline. If you take screenshots of Instagram stories often, this one may not work well for you. Follow the instructions below to set your device to airplane mode.

Android:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen using two fingers.
  2. Locate the airplane mode icon.
  3. Tap it to activate airplane mode.

iPhone:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  2. Locate the airplane mode icon.
  3. Tap it to activate airplane mode.

When you’re ready to continue browsing, follow the instructions above to deactivate airplane mode.

Avoid Screenshot Detection Using a Web Browser

Alternatively, you can check out Instagram via your browser and take a screenshot that way.  Instagram does not currently have a way to track screenshots taken from your browser window if you use a laptop or PC.

Avoid Screenshot Detection Using Chrome Browser Extension “Chrome IG Story”

This one is easy to use if you are already a Chrome user.

  1. Download Extension: First, download Chrome IG story for your browser.
  2. Download Available Stories: The default settings already enable privacy mode. What this means is that users won’t even know if you’ve seen their stories. Right-clicking on a user’s profile will reveal a download icon. Clicking the icon downloads all of their available posts and stories in a zip file. Downloads also include all of the user’s posted videos.
  3. Read Via Extension and Save: Additionally, you can also view the stories in the Chrome extension. If you see something you want to keep, just right-click to save it.

Avoid Screenshot Detection Using Another Camera

If all else fails, you can try the surefire, low-tech way of taking a screenshot of an Instagram story: grab another camera and take a picture of your screen. As long as it isn’t your phone activating the screenshot, the notification won’t be sent. It may be low quality, but if you really want to capture that screen without a notification, this option works.

Avoid Screenshot Detection Using Third Party Apps

Finally, if you are desperate to take screenshots of your latest crush’s Instagram, you can try a third-party app. These apps let you look at Instagram stories, screenshot, and save anonymously.

Some apps take the URL for the image or video and use that to save posts. From there, you can view your saved stories in overview mode, and re-post if you want. Other apps do all of that and allow you to re-post as one of the save steps. The ease of use may vary between apps, and the free ones may be peppered with ads.

It’s not illegal to use these apps, but their use may violate Instagram’s Terms of Service. If you really need that screenshot though, you should not expect any repercussions for using these apps.

If you use Instagram a lot (or want to), then you should definitely check out our library of helpful Instagram articles and tutorials.

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