How to Check Messages on Instagram

Check messages from your phone, tablet or possibly your computer

An image of the Instagram app icon on a smartphone screen.

 Carl Court/Getty Images

You can send private, direct messages to individuals or groups on Instagram. If somebody sends you a direct message, you're going to want to know how to check your messages so you can send a reply.

How to Check Messages on the Instagram App

  1. Open the Instagram app on your iOS or Android device and sign into your account or switch to the appropriate account, if necessary.

  2. Tap the mail icon in the top right corner of the screen to go to your Instagram Direct inbox.

    A screenshot of the Instagram app for iOS.

    When you receive a new message, you should see a number count appear with the mail icon in the top right corner whenever you open the app. This represents the number of new messages you've received since you last checked your inbox.

  3. Take a look at the list of messages in your inbox, which are listed from most recent to least recent. Messages that you haven't checked yet will display a blue dot beside it.

    A screenshot of the Instagram app for iOS.

    If you have a lot of messages in your inbox, you can use the Search field at the top to search for a message for a specific user or that contains a specific keyword or phrase.

  4. Tap any message to open the message or conversation thread and use the message field plus media buttons at the bottom to send a reply.

    You can send a quick photo or video reply without even opening the message simply by tapping the camera icon that appears to the right of ever message listed in your inbox.

  5. Tap the arrow icon in the top left corner to exit your inbox and go back to your feed.

You might receive Instagram messages from people you don't follow. If you do, it will appear as a message request in your inbox rather than a regular message, which you can choose to accept or decline. If you accept it, you'll be able to open the message and allow the user to continue to message you even without reciprocal following. If you decline it, the user will not be able to send you any additional messages.

How to Check Messages on the Web

Unfortunately, there's no official direct messaging feature built into the web version of Instagram. It's one of the many features that Instagram currently restricts from its web version.

To make matters even more frustrating, Instagram doesn't even offer direct message access on the web to official business partners that run powerful third-party Instagram management platforms, like Iconosquare. Any third-party platform that claims to give you access to your direct messages on the web is not legitimate and you could end up compromising your Instagram account if you decide to hand over your login details to them.

Instagram App on Windows

The only exception is the official Instagram app for Windows. If you have a Windows PC, you can download this app and enjoy sending and receiving direct messages through it — including photos, videos and posts directly from your feed.