How to Use Instagram Direct

Message people privately on Instagram

If you're already on Instagram, chances are you're aware of its built-in private messaging feature called Instagram Direct. Of course, if you're not familiar, here's a brief explanation of what Instagram Direct really is in a nutshell.

A man holding a smartphone and looking at Instagram.

You can send private messages via Instagram to both individuals and groups. It's a great way to get in contact with someone (or multiple people) as an alternative to leaving comments on their posts, which could potentially be missed in their notifications.

You can send direct messages to people who follow you with no restrictions, but if you send one to someone who isn't follow you, it will first appear as a request to protect their privacy and control spam. You'll only be able to keep messaging them if they decide to accept your message request.

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Tap the Instagram Direct Mail Icon At the Top of Your Feed

You should notice a small arrow-like icon in the very top right corner of the screen on the home feed.

Tapping that icon will bring you to your Instagram Direct inbox. You can access it ​anytime you want to view or reply to messages.​

The only place you can currently access your direct messages is from the main home feed. The Instagram Direct icon won't appear on any other tab.

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Create Your First Direct Message

Three screenshots of Instagram.

To send your first message, tap the plus sign icon in the top right corner and start typing names of people you follow or select them from the list of suggestions. Remember you can include multiple people (up to 32 in a group).

Then tap Chat in the top right to start a new message.

You can type text, send a voice recording, snap a photo or take a video using your camera, upload a photo/video from your device and send GIFs.

Make sure you're aware of how Instagram handles screenshots of direct messages if you plan on taking any.

You and everyone included in the private message will receive a notification through Instagram and via push notifications (if enabled) whenever anyone replies.

Active messages had will appear as a list on your main Instagram Direct tab so you can easily access them. If you ever want to delete any of them, simply swipe left on any and select Delete.

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Use Instagram Direct With Posts and Stories

Two screenshots of Instagram.

Instagram makes it easy to send posts and stories via direct message to people as well as reply to stories.

To send a photo or video post to someone, tap the mail icon at the bottom of any post, select your recipients, write an optional message with it and tap Send.

Sending stories to someone works the same way. When you view someone's story, tap the mail icon at the bottom, select your recipients, write an optional message with it and tap Send.

All stories have a Send Message field at the very bottom, which you can use to type in a response or reaction and send to the story poster. They'll receive it as a direct message.