How to Turn Off Instagram Read Receipts?

Updated on: October 28, 2022

Instagram's most popular and visible features are Stories and Reels. But it also supports communication features like text messages and video calling. You can send messages to any accounts. It depends on their privacy settings where they will receive your messages. If you are following each other, or actively messaging each other, then the messages enter your inbox. When you open an unread message from your inbox, the sender gets a "Seen" label under their sent message. A lot of users are familiar with how to turn off read receipts for messages in WhatsApp. However, this feature of turning off read receipts is absent from Instagram and Facebook Messenger. So people are left to wonder if there is any way they can read the messages they have received, without the read receipt of "Seen" being displayed for their sender.

The Top 3 Workaround Solutions for "How to Turn Off Instagram Read Receipts"

1. BEST Solution: Change their account to "Restricted"

2. OK for Short Messages: Read their messages from the Notification cards

3. DELAY Read Receipts: Turn off Internet before reading their messages

Instagram is always updating its features and changing the functionality of its user interface and algorithm. It is possible that in the future versions, they will include a Privacy Setting for Messages where you can toggle ON or OFF the Read Receipts. However, for now all messages from your friends and contacts land directly in your Instagram DM inbox by default. And when you open any such unread message, it immediately updates its status as "Seen" for your sender. Thus, they know immediately that you have read their message.

Normally this works just fine as you are likely going to reply and continue chatting back and forth. However, sometimes you wish to take your time before replying. In such scenarios, you want to be able to read messages from them, without letting them know you have "Seen" their messages. A privacy setting to turn off read receipts would have been perfect for this scenario. But since it is not available, we recommend three workarounds that can let you read their message without it immediately triggering the "Seen" read receipt. Note that since these are just workarounds, they have their flaws and limitations.

1. BEST Solution: Change their Account to "Restricted"

Instagram gives you the options to Follow/Unfollow, Restrict or Block any profile. The best workaround solution for turning off read receipts for specific people on Instagram, is to "Restrict" them.

What are "Message Requests" on Instagram?

Normally, when the accounts you follow or communicate with send you messages, they enter directly in your DM inbox. But this is not so for the accounts you are not following or have never chatted with before. Their messages will enter your "Message Requests" or simply the "Requests" section of your inbox. Only if you reply to them or follow them back, your conversation will be moved to the main inbox. But if you don't reply them or "Accept" their "Message Request", their future messages will also remain in your "Requests" section. And as long as any message is in your "Requests" section, they will not get the "Seen" read receipt even after you read their messages.

How to "Restrict" someone on Instagram?

1. You can simply go to their profile, tap on the three dots (kebab menu) on the top right, and select the "Restrict" option as shown below.

Instagram How to Restrict Someone 1

2. Then confirm again that you want to "Restrict" them by tapping the "Restrict account" blue button. As the confirmation dialogue menu for "Restrict" asserts, their chat will be moved to your "Message Requests". As a result, they will not know when you've read their messages.

Instagram How to Restrict Someone 2


What happens to messages BEFORE you "Restrict" someone?

You follow each other or have exchanged messages before. As a result, their new messages enter directly your DM Inbox. When you open their message, they get the "Seen" label under their sent message.

before restrict instagram inbox

What happens to messages AFTER you "Restrict" someone?

Their messages now go to the "Requests" section of your messages inbox. You can open their messages and read them, without sending the "Seen" read receipt to them.

after restrict instagram message requests

What are the ADVANTAGES of the "Restrict" option on Instagram?

You can continue to Follow each other and see each other's posts, stories etc. You do not need to Unfollow or Block them. When you "Restrict" them, their messages go to your "Requests" inbox. And all of their comments on your posts are only visible to you.

advantages of restrict - chat moves to message requests

What are the LIMITATIONS of the "Restrict" option on Instagram?

While you can read their messages without the "Seen" read receipt updating, you cannot reply to their messages as long as you have applied "Restrict" to their profile. To reply, you will have to first "Unrestrict" them. When you "Unrestrict" them, the "Seen" read receipts will start working normally again.

limitations of restrict - cannot reply until unrestrict

2. OK for Short Messages: Read their Messages from the Notification Cards

1. Keep Notifications for Messages Turned ON.

Go to your Profile -> Hamburger Menu -> Settings -> Notifications -> Direct Messages and Calls -> Select ON for all options

2. Now, when you get a new message, the Instagram notification will appear on your phone. If you drag down the notification card, you can read the message. This is like peeking at the message without triggering the "Seen" read receipt.

Just make sure you don't tap on the notification card, or on the "Like" or "Reply" below the message! Otherwise it will take you to the Instagram app in your Direct Messages (DM). And this will mark the message as "Seen". So, to be safe, read the message on the notification card, and then swipe it right to dismiss it.

3. As you can imagine, this is also a limited solution. It can work fine for smaller messages. But if someone sent a longer message, it may not be readable on the notification card in its entirety.

3. DELAY Read Receipts: Turn off Internet before Reading their Messages

Using the "Restrict" option is the only sureshot option in Instagram to turn off read receipts for specific people. Also, reading messages from the Android or iOS notification cards is another possible trick, but only suitable for short messages.

However, there is another hack possible that can delay the sending of read receipts. You can turn off your Internet (both Wi Fi and Mobile Data), and then read new messages. This way, read receipt will not be sent immediately after you read the messages.

However, the next time you switch on your Internet, and open Instagram app, your read receipt will get updated automatically. So you can only delay the read receipts with this method, not prevent them. Also, you are unable to use the Internet, so that's a huge limitation.

In case you wish to use the Internet without letting Instagram update the read messages as "Seen", you will have to Uninstall the Instagram app first.

So as you can see, this "hack" either prevents you from using Internet entirely, or from using the Instagram app. So it is a bad solution and overkill in most situations.

social media users


In this article, we have discussed that Instagram and Facebook Messenger apps are missing the "Read Receipt" privacy controls. That feature is available in WhatsApp and users would like to have it on Instagram as well. But because it is missing, we need to use some tricks and workarounds to turn off read receipts. By using the "Restrict" feature in Instagram, we are able to selectively turn off read receipts for specific people. Their messages go to "Message Requests" inbox instead of Direct Messages. We can then read their messages but they do not get the "Seen" read receipt. When we are ready to reply or resume communication with them, we can "Unrestrict" them and chat normally. Two other possible tricks are to read messages from notification cards, and to turn off the Internet before reading messages. However these workarounds have their limitations, and so we recommend the "Restrict" option as the best fix for turning off read receipts on Instagram.

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