For years, DM-ing on Instagram was an experience you lived through, not something you enjoyed. The social media app was so focused on photo sharing, it neglected to focus on things like standard messaging features like custom notification settings. But since boldly declaring it’s no longer a photo-sharing app, Instagram has slowly been turning things around, recently launching chat themes, a real search feature, and other tweaks designed to make messaging on Instagram better.
Here are a few features you might not be aware of, and how to use them to up your DM game. (Note: These features are rolling out slowly, so you may not have all of them just yet.)
How to send posts to your close friends with a simple gesture
This feature shows Instagram is increasingly focused on how users actually use Instagram DMs: to share cat memes with their friends. With this change, you can now share faster than ever: You can now tap and hold the Send button in a post, and see four photos at the top, representing your most frequently contacted profiles. Drag your finger over to the profile photo, and let go to send the post.
Instantly reply to Instagram DMs
It’s now possible to continue browsing your feed while you talk to people in an Instagram DM. The new in-app notification banner can be expanded, and you can reply to someone right from there.
Send a message without notifying the recipient
If you’re trying to message someone (or a group) at night or any other time you don’t want a notification to go out, type “@silent” before the message. The message will still be sent, but the user won’t get a notification about it.
Go full Snapchat using Vanish mode
Like Snapchat, Instagram DM also allows you to send disappearing photos and videos. But what if you want an entire conversation, with all the text and photos, to disappear after a while? You can now turn on Vanish mode by swiping up in any chat. Once you exit Vanish mode, all chats will be deleted. If someone takes a screenshot while in Vanish mode, you’ll get a notification.
Try a new theme
Instagram DM introduced themes a while ago, and every now and then, there’s a new addition. The latest theme, lo-fi, infuses the app with chill vibes, but you can choose from many more themes. Tap the “i” button from the header and then go to the Themes section to browse.
Search through a chat
Want to find some incriminating evidence from a six-month-old conversation? Instagram DM will now help you with that. Open the chat, tap the “i” button from the top, and go to the “Search in conversation” to get started.
Make group DMs less intense
Group chats can get rowdy quickly, but you can control this using DM-level notification settings. Open a group DM and tap the “i” button. Here, you’ll be able to mute all messages, mute mentions, or calls. You can also enable approvals for new joiners, making sure the group doesn’t become spam-central overnight.
Avatars, Polls, and other ways to make DMs more fun
See the little “Plus” button in the bottom corner of your Instagram DMs? It’s hiding quite a lot of features. First is Quick Replies, where, you can create custom shortcuts that expand to whole phrases or sentences. This feature is like Text Replacement on the iPhone, but limited to the Instagram app.
Tap the Stickers button and you’ll see options for “Avatar” and “Polls.” Avatar is Facebook’s version of Memoji Stickers, allowing you to create your own avatar and send it in a sticker instead of using an emoji. The Polls feature works similar to the one in Stories, allowing you to quickly get responses from everyone in the group chat without setting off a dozen notifications.