How to Use Instagram Direct

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Get Started with Instagram Direct

Photo © Getty Images

If you're already on Instagram, chances are you've heard about Instagram Direct -- its new built-in private messaging feature.

Of course, if you're not familiar, here's a brief explanation of what Instagram Direct really is in a nutshell.

You no longer have to post everything publicly on Instagram, and getting in direct contact with somebody is much easier now with Instagram Direct.

The first thing you need to do to get started with Instagram Direct is download the app or make sure you have the most current app version installed on your mobile device.

Get it here for iPhone, or here for Android.

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Look for Your Instagram Direct Inbox on the Home Feed

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Screenshot of Instagram for iOS

Now that you have the latest version of Instagram ready to go, you should notice a small 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 any time you want to view or reply to messages.

Now let's look at how you can start sending messages through Instagram Direct.

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Choose a Photo or Video to Share

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Screenshot of Instagram for iOS

The first step in using Instagram Direct is to set up a photo or video in Instagram exactly the way you do it for public sharing.

So, you can simply tap the middle camera button to snap a photo or film a video, or you can upload an existing one from your cameraroll or other folder on your mobile device.

You can edit your photo however you like in Instagram, choose a filter and then click "Next."

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Select the 'Direct' Tab at the Top of the Screen

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Screenshot of Instagram for iOS

After selecting and editing a photo or video to share, you should be brought to a familiar page where you can type in your caption, tag friends, choose your location and share your post to other social networking sites.

At the very top of the screen, there are now two different page tab options: Followers and Direct.

By default, Instagram always takes you to the Followers tab after you've selected your photo or video. But if you don't want to post it publicly to Instagram and want to send it to one or more people privately through Instagram Direct, you want the Direct tab.

Tap the Direct tab to bring up Instagram Direct.

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Choose Up to 15 Instagram Direct Recipients

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Screenshot of Instagram for iOS

The Direct tab allows you to type in a caption for your photo or video at the top, followed by a list of users that you interact with the most on Instagram, and then the rest of who you are following.

You can scroll down and tap the circle to the right of each user's avatar so that a green checkmark appears, which selects them to be a recipient of your private Instagram message.

You can select just one recipient to receive your message, or a maximum of 15 recipients.

Click the send button at the bottom to send to your photo or video message.

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Watch Your Recipients Interact in Real-time

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Screenshot of Instagram for iOS

Once your message has been sent, Instagram will take you to your inbox where you can view a list of all your most recent sent and received messages.

You can actually tap your recently sent message and watch as your recipients open it to view it, like it or add a comment on it.

As your recipients interact, their avatars appearing below the photo or video will show a green checkmark to tell you that they opened it, a red heart meaning they liked it or a blue comment bubble letting you know that they wrote something in the comment section.

Bear in mind that when you select more than one person as a recipient for your message, everybody who receives it will be able to see all the interactions on it, including who has viewed it, liked it and commented on it.

Anyone can simply add a comment below the photo or video to interact with one another, or they may choose to tap the Reply button to send an entirely new photo or video message as a response.

Remember that you can access all of your Instagram Direct messages any time you want by navigating to the home feed and tapping that little mailbox icon in the top right corner.

That's all there is to it. It's a great new option for group messaging, and adds a nice touch to a growing mobile social network for when we need to get more personal with our followers.