Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Direct Messages

What they are, where they appear, and why and how to send one

A Twitter direct message (DM) is a private message sent to one or more specific Twitter users. Generally, you can only send DMs to people who follow you on Twitter. Like tweets, DMs can only be 280 characters long.

Why Send a DM?

You might send a DM if you want to connect with someone one-on-one but don't know their email address or any other way to reach them, or if you know they spend a lot of time on Twitter and are likely to see a message there before anywhere else. You would use a DM rather than a tweet if the communication isn't appropriate for public consumption (such as setting up a business meeting). Some Twitter users like to send a DM to every new follower, with a welcoming message.

Where Does a DM Show Up?

A Twitter DM isn't the same thing as a tweet; therefore, it doesn't appear in any public timeline that everyone can see. It only appears on the private Messages pages of the DM sender and receiver(s). In other words, DMs are analogous to the private messages that Facebook users exchange. DMs are threaded, so you can see the back-and-forth dialogue you had with someone using Twitter's DM system.

How Do I Know If I've Received a DM?

You can be notified of new DMs within Twitter, or with a text or email notification if you have your account set up that way.

Within Twitter, when you receive a DM, an alert will show up in the left rail of your home screen in the form of a bubble with a number in it next to the Messages link. The number refers to how many new DMs you have.

Who Can I DM With?

Generally, you can send a DM to anyone who follows you. But there are some exceptions. If the person doesn't follow you but has opted-in to receive DMs from anyone, you can send them a DM. Or, if you have exchanged DMs with that person in the past, you can send them a DM even if they're not following you. Also, if you initiate a DM to more than one person, anyone in the group can then respond to the entire group even if group members don't all follow each other.

If you want to send a DM to someone on Twitter, but they don't follow you, you can still catch their attention by using their handle (such as @abc123) at the beginning of a tweet. The tweet won't land in their Messages section as a DM would, but it will initiate a notification that the user is likely to see.

How Do I Send a DM?

Use the following steps to compose a DM:

  1. On the Twitter home page, in the left rail, select Messages.

    Twitter home screen
  2. On the Messages page, at the top of the screen, select the New message (envelope) icon.

    Alternatively, you can navigate to the person's profile and select the New message (envelope) icon at the top of the screen.

    Twitter Messages section
  3. A New message window appears. Type the name of the person you want to send the DM to, then select Next.

    Twitter with New Message window displayed
  4. A messaging window appears. If you've already corresponded with the person and haven't deleted the messages, you'll see them in the window. In the messaging field, type your message, then select the Send (right-facing arrow) icon. The message appears in the messaging window.

    Twitter with Messages section displayed
  5. If the recipient responds, their message will also appear in the messaging window, similar to a texting exchange.

How Do I Delete a DM?

To delete a DM, go to your Messages section, select the DM, then select Delete or Delete message.