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

While Instagram started as a simple photo-sharing app, it has grown to become a very flexible platform with a number of powerful, entertaining, and fun-to-use features.

One such feature is the Direct Messages (DMs) feature, which was added in late 2013. Since then, DMs have become a go-to standard of communication for heavy social media users.

For those of you who have experienced the agony of waiting a seemingly endless amount of time for a reply to a 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 script 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.

How 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 platform (not sent externally as with an SMS message) and the recipient can usually see the DM instantly.

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 the 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, Instagram DMs are always sent right to the recipient’s mailbox. Instagram does this to increase the level of engagement between its users.


How to Tell if Someone Has Read Your Direct Message

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. This works just like read receipts on other messaging apps.

Depending on the type of message and the relationship between you and the recipient, your read receipts may be different.


Assuming you’re following someone, and they’re following you back, you’ll be able to see their Instagram handle next to the ‘Seen’ icon in the lower left-hand corner of your message (as seen in the screenshot below).


If you’re interested in your group messages, you will see the username next to ‘Seen’ in the lower left-hand corner indicating they’ve read your message

Not Following

If you’re messaging a private account and they have yet to accept your follow request you’re left in the dark until the following status changes. When you send a friend request to one of these accounts it will appear as a ‘message request’ and it’s up to the user to accept it or not. You will not receive any notification if they declined your request.

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 with plans to respond later. Since you can’t turn off read receipts on Instagram, you’ll have to use a workaround.

Of course, Instagram does show your followers and friends your ‘Active’ status [16] so that’s another thing to consider when dodging DMs.

While the method to do this involves a bit of effort, it’s not too difficult. The idea is to disconnect your device from the Internet before reading the message so that you can’t send a read receipt.

How to hide your Instagram activity:

  1. Open the Instagram App. 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’s direct messages. This method works on Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and many other social networks. Use it well!

Instagram’s Disappearing Messages

For those interested in other neat features of Instagram’s DM feature, you can send disappearing messages to your friends and followers. Maybe you’re wondering what happened to the message a friend sent you, or you’d like to send one yourself. This feature, similar to the Snapchat DM features, allows users to send an image and have it automatically deleted upon opening.

To send a disappearing message, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the airplane icon in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Scroll through your messages to the contact you’d like to send a message to and click the camera icon located on the right-hand side. (You can also use the search option at the top then click the camera icon at the lower left).
  3. Take your photo message using the circle icon in the lower center of the app.
  4. Tap ‘Add Effects’
  5. Select ‘View Once’
  6. Tap on the option to ‘Send’

When the message is open it will automatically disappear. You will not have the option to send a disappearing message to those you don’t already have permission to communicate with.

Can I turn off read receipts on Instagram?

Unfortunately, no. The only option you have to read messages without alerting the sender is to put your phone in Airplane Mode, read the message, close Instagram, and turn ‘Airplane Mode off again.

Can someone see if I read their message multiple times?

No, there is only one read receipt and that appears when you first read the message.

Why do I see a paper airplane flash when I’ve sent a message?

The paper airplane icon that appears next to your message merely means your message is sending.

Can someone see if I deleted a message?

If you hold down on a message you’ve sent on Instagram you’ll get the option to ‘Unsend’ it. Although the recipient may have already viewed and read the content, they won’t be able to see it any longer.

Can I block someone from messaging me without blocking their account?

While you can’t block someone from sending you a DM without completely blocking their profile, you can mute their conversation. Assuming someone is spamming you, or you just don’t want to read their messages.

Open the person’s DM and tap on the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of Instagram. From here, toggle the option to “Mute Conversation.”

The other user will still be able to send you messages. But you won’t get a notification for them.

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!