How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread: An Easy Guide to Changing Your Message Status

Profile photo of Heidi Lang, author

Heidi Lang

Instagram 101 | Dec 05, 2022

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Instagram messages have quickly evolved into an everyday way of communicating. From chatting with friends to sending story replies, it seems like everyone is using the social media app to stay in touch. Direct messages make it easy to stay in touch with your followers and reach out to potential new ones. But picture this. You open and read a direct message on Instagram only to accidentally forget to respond right away. Or perhaps you regret letting the sender know you’ve read the message so quickly. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there. Have you ever wished you could learn how to mark Instagram messages as unread? Lucky for you, there is a way. But it comes with a catch – and isn’t available for everyone. Keep reading below as we explain just what we mean. We’ll cover it all, from the best in-app methods on all devices to alternate work-around options.

Person holding smartphone, opened to Instagram log-in screen.

What are Instagram Messages?

Before we get into how to mark Instagram messages as unread, let’s take a minute to review the basics. If you are new to the social media app, you might not know much about this feature. Allow us to explain the highlights of Instagram messages, often referred to as direct messages or, simply, an Instagram dm. This is an in-app way for users to communicate with each other. Through Instagram, you are able to send messages to one (or multiple) people with text, photos or videos. Instagram also allows you to send posts and account profiles through direct messages. Many people use this feature to quickly communicate with their friends, families and followers. You can also send direct messages to your favorite influencers and celebrities. However, keep in mind that if you send a message to someone who doesn’t follow you, it will appear as a request in their inbox.

You may be wondering why you would want to learn how to mark Instagram messages as unread. There are a few reasons, actually. First, as we mentioned before, it’s common to quickly open a direct message once you receive the notification. However, you may not have time to respond at the moment and want to come back to it. Marking them as unread messages is a great way to remind yourself that your response is still needed. Another reason? When you open and read a message, it will show a read status underneath, something commonly referred to as a read receipt. This appears both on your end and on the sender’s end. It lets them know that you have, in fact, opened, read and received the message. Some Instagram users may be hoping they can undo this and not let the sender know they’ve read it until a later time.

Women looking at her smartphone, wondering how to mark Instagram messages as unread.

Can You Mark Instagram Messages as Unread?

Now that you are all caught up on the ins and outs of Instagram direct messages, let’s get right to the subject at hand. Can you mark Instagram messages as unread? As we mentioned before the answer is sort of. It all depends on what type of Instagram account you have. Before we confuse you any further, let’s give you some answers. Currently, only those using Instagram business accounts are able to mark messages as unread. This type of account is for both large and small businesses and gives them access to marketing, analytical and management tools. With a business account, you are able to grow your reach and engagement. You can also promote posts, create Instagram ads and track campaigns.

However, there’s also another catch when it comes to how to mark Instagram messages as unread. Even with a business account, you can only mark Instagram messages as unread from your side. This will not mark the message as unread to the sender. Many people hope this may change in the future with major updates to the Instagram app. However, at this time, a message will only show as unread to you, the receiver. So, essentially, you are doing it for your own convenience. There are still many bonuses to learn how to do this. It can be extremely helpful if you want a reminder that you need to go back and answer certain messages.

Person holding phone and scrolling through Instagram.

How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread With a Business Account on Different Types of Devices

Of course, everyone has their own personal preference of a device to access Instagram. Some people prefer Apple electronics while others are devoted to their Android devices. There are also people who typically access Instagram through a computer or laptop, using a web browser. Since there are often different operating systems depending on your device, it’s common that apps have a different way of working. Don’t worry, we’re here to break it all down – by device. If you have a business account and are ready to learn how to mark Instagram messages as unread, keep reading below. Got a general account but still eager to find a way? Don’t worry, we’ve got a few tips and tricks for you later on below.

How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread on iPhone

If you currently have an Instagram business account and an iPhone, listen up. This section is tailor made just for you. Make sure your phone is handy so you can easily follow along. Below, we’ll outline the steps needed to learn how to mark Instagram messages as unread on iPhone.

  1. Open the Instagram app on your phone.
  2. Access your Instagram direct messages by tapping on the messenger icon on the upper righthand corner on the screen. You can also get there by simply swiping to the left from anywhere on your home page.
  3. Next, find the direct message you wish to mark as unread. Tap and hold it for a few seconds and a pop-out window will appear on your screen.
  4. On this menu, select mark as unread.
  5. Now, the blue dot will reappear next to the message, letting you know that it has been marked as unread.

There you go. If you have a business account, it is easy to figure out how to mark Instagram messages as unread. Remember, doing this will only mark the message as unread on your end. The sender will still be able to see the read receipt that you have opened and viewed the message.

Man looking at his smartphone, trying to learn how to mark Instagram messages as unread.

How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread on Android

Next up is a focus on Instagram business account owners who use an Android device. As you surely know, there are some differences when it comes to using apps on iPhone and Android phones.  After all, they operate on completely different systems. Even popular apps typically have different ways of working depending on the device. However, as it turns out, the steps for learning how to mark Instagram messages as unread on Android are the same as on iPhone. That’s right, Android lovers can also use the steps we outlined above. But while we have you here, let’s quickly introduce you to another option. With this method, you are able to mark multiple messages as unread – all at once and on any device.

  1. Open the Instagram app on your phone.
  2. Access your Instagram direct messages inbox.
  3. From here, tap on the three dots icon in the upper righthand corner of the screen and hit select chats.
  4. Now, simply tap on each conversation to make a custom list of the ones that you wish to make as unread.
  5. Select more from the bottom of the screen then tap mark unread.

If you have an Instagram business account, this is an efficient way to mark bulk messages as unread. Now, keep reading as we talk about a few options available to those who have Instagram personal accounts.

Women looking up from her phone and smiling because she’s figured out how to mark Instagram messages as unread.

How To Mark Instagram Messages as Unread With a Personal Account

Now, we know that not everyone has an Instagram business account. In fact, most Instagram user’s don’t have access to these upgraded features. But don’t feel discouraged if you’re still hoping for a way to unread your messages. As it turns out, there are a couple of work-arounds when it comes to how to make Instagram messages as unread. Yes, even for those of us who don’t have a business account. However, these options are primarily for not wanting someone to know you’ve read their messages. By that, we mean they are less for your personal use of wanting to remind yourself to respond later on. Ready to explore them? Make sure you have your phone handy to give these options a try.

Alternatives to How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread: Use Airplane Mode

One easy way to view Instagram messages without being seen when using a personal Instagram account? Utilizing airplane mode. It makes sense – after all, placing your phone in airplane mode disconnects the internet connection and cellular network. Therefore, you are unable to send or receive calls, texts and app functions, including Instagram. This lets you read new Instagram messages without being seen. It’s a secretive, invisible way to go about it. Of course, this will only last until your internet or cellular connection is back on. Interested in giving this alternative to how to mark Instagram messages as unread a try? Simply follow the below steps for iPhone users.

  1. From your home screen, swipe down from the upper righthand corner. This will access your phone’s control center.
  2. Next, turn on airplane mode by tapping on the plane icon. Both your wifi and cellular data icons will disappear, indicating they are off.
  3. Open your Instagram app and access your direct messages. Now you can open any message and read the contents – all without the sender getting a read receipt.

Of course, keep in mind that your invisibility will only last as long as your phone is in airplane mode. Once cellular data or wifi is back on, a read receipt will automatically attach to the message.

Closeup of a smartphone showing the Instagram app.

Alternatives to How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread: Restrict Sender

Another alternative option to how to mark Instagram messages as unread? Placing the sender in restrict mode, which turns their message into a message request. While this option is a bit more cumbersome, it can have the desired effect of not letting someone know you’ve read their message. This is because Instagram message requests are always marked as unread – even if you’ve read them. It will stay this way until you accept the message request. To accomplish this workaround, we’ve outlined the steps for you below.

  1. First, open your Instagram account and go to the profile of the message sender in question.
  2. Next, tap the three dots icon from the upper righthand corner and select restrict. You’ll need to confirm your desire to resist this Instagram user.
  3. Now, this user has been placed on your restricted list. This will make all their messages show up as message requests, letting you view them before accepting them. This way, the sender will not know you have read the message when, in fact, you have.

Man looking at his phone, trying to figure out how to mark Instagram messages as unread.

Alternatives to How to Mark Instagram Messages as Unread: Use Third-Party Apps

These days, it seems like there is a third-party app for everything Instagram-related. And we mean everything – from seeing who views your Instagram to learning how to add music to your Instagram content. And, yes, that even includes figuring out how to mark Instagram messages as unread. If this idea is something that interests you, take to the internet or your phone’s app store for a quick search on the topic. You’ll be able to find a variety of options to choose from, some that are free and some that cost money. Keep in mind that these costs can be both upfront and through in-app purchases after download. Some popular third-party apps offer even more alternatives to opening Instagram messages. These include receiving your direct messages through emails, meaning you never even open the message in the app.

We strongly recommend taking the time to do thorough research and read user reviews as well as privacy policies. These third-party apps may require you to log into Instagram through their app, which can give them access to your account. By knowing all the detailed facts beforehand, you will get the best possible experience without jeopardizing your content or privacy. You’ll also want to make sure you follow the outlined directions and instructions. This will ensure you are properly learning how to mark Instagram messages as unread with the help of a third-party app.

At Path Social we’ve built up an in-house platform of Instagram influencers and a proprietary AI targeting algorithm over the past decade. That’s how we reach organic users who are targeted, interested, and engaged. And that’s why no one can replicate our results, which means you’ll build an Instagram community that lasts! Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today.