Everything You Need To Know About Instagram Direct

By David Cohen 

InstagramDirect650If you took our poll about what Instagram would announce at its press event in New York Thursday, and you guessed, “private messaging and/or group messaging features,” you were absolutely correct, as Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom announced the launch of Instagram Direct, which allows users of the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network to send photo and video messages directly to friends.

Systrom said while introducing Instagram Direct:

Today, I’d like to introduce Instagram Direct — a simple way to send photos and videos to your friends. We’ve been using it internally, and we’re all very addicted to it.

He added later:

Send to a group of up to 15 people at once, this can be for small groups, classes, your college buddies, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your husband, your wife. Real-time likes viewed in chat brings this feature alive.

Instagram for iOS version 5.0 and Instagram for Android version 5.0 will be available later Thursday in the iTunes App Store and Google Play, respectively, and when users open the application, a new inbox icon will appear in the top-right-hand corner.

In order to send photos or videos to specific people, Instagram users will now see a “direct” button on their share screens, where they can select who to share their content with.

Instagram Direct users can also follow who is interacting with the content they shared. The profile pictures of users that were sent content remain gray until they open the messages, after which their full-color profile pictures appear. And if recipients like the content, a heart appears along with their profile pictures.

Systrom addressed potential concerns that Instagram users may find their inboxes clogged, saying:

If Instagram has added this ability to send photos and videos to someone, does that mean my inbox is going to be flooded with people? On Instagram, what’s going to happen is, the only people who can send photos and videos to you are people who you follow.

If you don’t follow those people, it doesn’t mean you can’t get photos and videos from them: They go into your pending requests.

Screenshots and a video from Instagram are included below, but here are more details from a post on the Instagram Blog:

Over the past three years, the Instagram community has grown to more than 150 million people capturing and sharing moments all around the globe. As we’ve grown, Instagram has evolved not only into a community of photographers, but also into a means of visual communication. From a photo of your daily coffee to a sunrise shared from the top of a mountain hike, every Instagram moment contains something you find special — something you broadcast to your followers when you tap “share.”

There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people — an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment, or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments.

From how you capture photos and videos to the way you start conversations through likes and comments, we built Instagram Direct to feel natural to the Instagram experience you already know. When you open Instagram, you’ll now see a new icon in the top-right corner of your home feed. Tap it to open your inbox, where you’ll see photos and videos that people have sent to you. To send a photo or video to specific people, tap the camera button to enter the same simple photo or video capture and editing screens. At the top of the share screen, you’ll see the option to share with your followers (“followers”) or to send to specific people (“direct”). To send using Direct, tap the names of the people you want to send your photo or video to, write your caption, tap “send,” and you’re done.

After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it, and watch your recipients commenting in real time as the conversation unfolds.

Readers: What are your first impressions of Instagram Direct?

Instagram’s video introducing Instagram Direct appears below, followed by screenshots from its press event.

“Share to” screen.


Creating an Instagram Direct message.


Selecting which users to send an Instagram Direct message to.


An Instagram Direct message that has not yet been seen by the recipient.


An Instagram Direct message that has been seen by the recipient (note the color profile picture and the check mark).


An Instagram Direct message that has been liked by the recipient (note the heart).


The new inbox icon in the top-right-hand corner.


Instagram Direct messages from users the recipient does not follow appear in the direct requests folder.