How to Check Messages on Instagram

Check messages from your phone, tablet, or possibly your computer

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram
Introduction

If you want to send a message to someone on Instagram, you don't have to comment on one of their posts. It's easy to send and receive private, direct messages to one or more people. If you're wondering how to access Instagram Direct, where your messages reside, here's how to go to your inbox, read, and reply to DMs.

Facebook is in the process of merging messaging between Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This article looks at how to read traditional direct messages on Instagram, as well as what to expect when the new messaging system rollout is complete.

Smiling person using smartphone outside to read Instagram direct messages
Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Traditional Way to Check Messages on the Instagram App

Access your direct-message inbox from the Instagram main screen, where you see your current feed with posts from people and businesses you follow.

If Facebook hasn't rolled out its new messaging app integration in your area, here's how to find and read your messages.

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

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

    A number count appears on the mail icon in the upper-right corner when you open the app. The number represents how many unread messages you have.

  3. Your inbox messages are listed from most to least recent. Unread messages have a blue dot.

    Use the search field at the top to search for a message from a certain user or to search for a keyword or phrase.

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

    To send a quick photo or video reply without opening the conversation, tap the camera to the right of every message listed in your inbox.

  5. Tap the arrow icon in the upper-left corner to exit the inbox and return to your feed.

    Checking messages on Instagram

    If you receive an Instagram message from someone you don't follow, it appears as a request in your inbox rather than a conversation. If you accept the request, you can reply without following the other user. If you decline the request, the other user can't contact you again unless you follow them.

How to Check Instagram Messages on the Desktop

You can also check your direct messages using Instagram on a web browser.

  1. Go to the official Instagram website and log in.

  2. Select the messages icon, which looks like a paper airplane.

    The Messages icon on Instagram for web
  3. Your current conversations appear in the left pane. Click a conversation to open it.

    The conversations pane
  4. The message opens in the right pane. Enter your message in the text box to reply.

    Along with text, you can include emojis by clicking the smiley face icon. Include photos from your computer with the photo icon on the right side of the text box. Click the heart icon to send a heart emoji instantly.

    The text box and other icons

    If you have a Windows PC, download the official Instagram app for Windows and send and receive direct messages through it, including photos, videos, and posts from your feed.

What to Know About the New Messaging Integration

According to a report in The Verge, in August of 2020, Facebook began rolling out a new messaging system, merging the messaging functionality of Instagram and Facebook, which both are owned by Facebook.

While Facebook is testing this feature, your Instagram home page may greet you with a screen that says, "There's a New Way to Message on Instagram," along with an Update button. When you update, your paper-airplane-style Direct Messages icon changes to the Facebook Messenger logo. In theory, you can message Facebook friends who aren't on Instagram.

News of this type of messaging merger was first reported in 2019, with sources like Mobile Monkey reporting that messaging will be merged between Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. There's speculation that Facebook is making this cross-communication move as a convenience to users and businesses.

Stay on the lookout for these cross-messaging features to appear in your area.