Instagram Direct is a private messaging feature found on Instagram’s popular mobile photo sharing app. This allows users to share the following with a group of one or more users:

  • Plain text messages
  • Photos or videos from your device’s library
  • Disappearing photos or videos you take through the Instagram app
  • Instagram profiles
  • Instagram photo or video posts
  • Instagram hashtags
  • Instagram locations

While Instagram has been around since 2010, there was no private messaging available on the site until it eventually launched Instagram Direct in December 2013. If you decided to message another person, you can only do so by commenting on one of their photos or tagging them on another picture in a comment.

Why You Should Use Instagram Direct

If you have lots of followers and need to share specific details with specific people, Instagram Direct is useful. Sometimes it doesn’t really take anything to be shared with everyone— especially if you have such a broad audience. It’s also useful if you want to more personally link to someone you’ve met (or met) on Instagram.

Instagram Direct helps you to become more selective and intimate with different people or groups so you don’t end up spamming the feed of anyone else with images or videos that are not necessarily important to them.

How Instagram Direct Works

You can send out an Instagram Direct message to someone you are watching. You may also give them to any user you don’t follow but they will appear in their inbox as a notification request that they must first accept.

Remember they may ignore the appeal. It helps protect the privacy of the users from future spam and harassment. However, if they accept your applications, all of your potential messages will be sent to your inbox even if you don’t obey them.

Like you would on every other private messaging device, you can respond to an Instagram Direct message again. All message replies appear as bubbles so you can easily follow along with the conversation.

Where to Find Your Instagram Direct Inbox

When someone sends you a new message, if you have them activated, you will be alerted by using the app, and probably via push notifications. A mail icon is shown on the home tab at the top of the page, to the right of the Instagram logo, which will take you to your Instagram Direct messages.

The app also shows alerts when you receive new messages or interactions which, if you have them activated for Instagram, that pop up as instant alerts on your smartphone.

To enter your inbox, you can tap the mail icon at the top right and start composing a new message by taping the plus sign (+) icon at the top right corner of the screen. Only type the usernames in the To: field for the users you want to include.

Existing conversations should appear feed into your key messages. Tap any conversation to see and respond to your messages, or swipe left on any conversation and tap Delete to erase it.

Sharing Posts via Instagram Direct

There are multiple buttons that you can press to connect with wit the post directly underneath each Instagram message. The Instagram Direct paper airplane icon marks one of those buttons, which you can tap to share the post that private message.

People previously exchanged Instagram posts with friends by marking the comments with their usernames. Because these show up as updates, if marked users get a lot of them, they might easily be skipped, making Instagram Direct a better choice for making sure shared posts are seen.

Reporting, Restricting and Blocking Users in Instagram Direct

If someone is sending you abusive photo, video or text messages through Instagram Direct, you can report them by opening the conversation and tapping the circled “i” in the top right.

You have three options to choose to limit their communication with you:

Restrict: Limit unwanted interactions with the user without unfollowing or blocking them, control whether others can see their comments on your posts and move their chat your Message Requests so they won’t see when you’ve read their messages.

Report: Inform Instagram whether a user is spending spam or inappropriate content.

Block: Block a user to remove them from your followers and completely prevent them from messaging you, seeing your profile or re-following you.