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Take Control of Instagram Read Receipts: How to Turn Them Off

by Suzanne Kantra on March 19, 2024

Instagram's read receipts are those little "Seen" notifications that tell the sender you've opened their direct message (DM). While often convenient, sometimes you might want more privacy or wish to avoid the pressure to reply right away. I always feel a little guilty when I’ve left my daughter’s DMs unread for more than a day. Luckily, Instagram now gives you control over this feature.

iPhone showing Instagram chats.

Managing your DM read receipts

In the latest Instagram update, the app now lets you disable read receipts for all your chats at once or manage them on a conversation-by-conversation basis. I recommend turning read receipts off as your default so there’s no pressure to respond. You can also individually turn on read receipts for people you’re close to. This flexibility lets you find the perfect balance between convenience and privacy.

However, your default for your DM read receipts doesn’t apply in all DM situations. Keep these things in mind when adjusting your read receipt settings:

Turning off read receipts is a two-way street

Disabling read receipts is a double-edged sword. While you gain the ability to read messages without the sender's knowledge, you also lose the ability to see if someone else has read your messages. Consider this trade-off when deciding if this feature is right for you.

Encrypted chats automatically turn off read receipts

If you prioritize maximum privacy, consider using Instagram's end-to-end encrypted chats. In this mode, read receipts are automatically disabled. You’ll know you’re in an encrypted chat when you see a lock icon under the person's name in the chat list.

Vanish Mode doesn’t support read receipts

Vanish Mode is designed for temporary, disappearing messages. Even if you have read receipts turned off globally, they will still function within Vanish Mode chats to ensure both parties are aware when messages have been seen. You’ll know you’re in Vanish Mode when you see a dotted circle next to the person's name in the chat list.

Read more: How to Use Instagram’s Vanish Mode

How to turn off Instagram read receipts

Ready to take charge of your DM privacy? Here are the steps:

Turn off read receipts for all chats

  1. Open your Instagram app and go to your profile.
  2. Tap the three lines menu icon and choose "Settings".
  3. Navigate to the "Messages and story replies" section.
  4. Locate the "Show read receipts" option and toggle it to the off position.

Turn off read receipts for individual chats

  1. Open the specific DM chat where you want to disable read receipts.
  2. Tap on the person's name (or group) at the top of the chat.
  3. Select "Privacy & Safety"
  4. Toggle the "Read Receipts" setting off.

Experiment and see what feels most comfortable for you.

Looking for more ways to optimize your Instagram experience? Read more:

How to Add Highlights to Your Instagram Profile

How to use Notes on Instagram for Private Group Messaging

[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.


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