How to Use Instagram Video Chat

Gab with up to four friends

You can now video chat with up to four people on Instagram
Instagram Direct lets you video chat with up to four people.

 Getty Images/praetorianphoto

Instagram's not just for taking gorgeous photos of your vacation and sharing perfectly stylized selfies anymore. With a feature called Instagram Direct, you can video chat with up to four friends on iOS and Android devices in much the same way you might join video chats in Skype, Snapchat, FaceTime, Houseparty, or Facebook Messenger.

Here's how to set up Instagram Direct so you can enjoy video chat sessions with your fellow Instagrammers on the same app you already use for sharing photos.

How to Start a Video Chat on Instagram

You'll want to make sure you have the latest version of the Instagram app installed on your iPhone or Android and that you have an account. From there, open the Instagram app.

Start a video chat in Instagram
Open Instagram Direct to start a video chat.

Tap the paper airplane in the top right corner; it should appear just to the right of the IGTV icon that looks like a miniature television. This will open your direct inbox, where your direct messages live on Instagram.

Now you can start a video chat with up to four of your Instagram friends. You can do this one of two ways:

Start a video chat in an existing conversation:

  1. Tap a username or group name to open an existing conversation.
  2. Tap the video camera icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen to initiate a video chat.
  3. The person or group you call will receive a notification indicating you're video calling them.

Start a video chat in a brand new conversation:

  1. Start a new conversation by tapping the Plus (+) in the top right corner and picking the people with whom you want to video chat.
  2. Tap the video camera icon on the top right-hand corner of your screen to initiate a video chat.
  3. The person or group you call will receive a notification indicating you're inviting them to join a video chat.
Video chat with up to four friends in Instagram
Four-way video chat in Instagram.

Enjoy your video chat! When you're done, tap the red phone button to hang up.

How to Browse Instagram During a Video Chat

You can browse Instagram while you're in a video chat with your friends.

To do this, tap the minimize button in the top-left corner, represented as a little square within a square, while on your video chat. A window with your friend's face on it will appear, which you can move around on your screen wherever you like. You can now browse your feed, send direct messages, post photos, and do anything else you normally would while continuing your video chat; your friends won't see what you're browsing, only your face.

How to Troubleshoot an Instagram Video Chat

Instagram video chats are pretty straightforward, but if you find you're having trouble receiving a video chat request, there's a chance you might need to turn your Instagram push notifications on.

  1. Go to your profile; tap the icon resembling a person in the bottom right-hand corner.
  2. Tap the three dots at the top right-hand corner.
  3. Access your settings.
    1. On iPhone, tap the gear icon to the right of your profile photo.
    2. On Android, tap the icon with the three small dots.
  4. Scroll down to the Notifications section and choose Push Notifications.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom, where you'll find the Video Chats section. Choose who you want to receive video chat notifications from, whether that's people you follow or everyone you've had a direct message conversation with on Instagram.

Privacy Considerations for Instagram Video Chats

If you're privacy-conscious, you may want to know that anyone you've accepted a direct message from in the past can initiate a video chat with you. You can prevent someone from trying to video chat with you using one of these two methods:

Block the user:

  1. Tap their username to go to their profile.
  2. Tap the three small dots in the top right-hand corner of your screen.
  3. Choose Block. The user won't be notified you've blocked them.

If you want to unblock this user later, repeat the above steps and choose Unblock.

Mute the conversation you've had with the user:

  1. Open your Instagram feed.
  2. Tap the paper airplane icon in the top right corner. This will open your direct messages within Instagram.
  3. Select the group conversation you'd like to mute.
  4. Tap the group name at the top, then tap next to Mute Video Chat.
    1. Note: If you haven't named the group, just tap the list of names. You don't have to give the group a name.
  5. Choose Done.

That's it. Now that you know how to start a video chat in Instagram, have fun touching base with your friends!