Can You Screenshot Someone's Instagram DMs Without Notifying Them?


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A woman accidentally screenshots her crush's Instagram DMs and sends a notification.
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You know when you have a juicy conversation between you and your crush — it goes down in the DMs, as they say — and you just can’t wait to show your friends? Well, wouldn’t it be nice to screenshot the Instagram conversation and send it in the group chat? We all know that feeling when you screengrab the content and then pause for a second because you’re overcome with the fear that your crush may get a notification. On Snapchat, for example, if you screenshot any photo, video, or conversation, the other user will get a notification. So can you screenshot your Instagram DMs without notifying the sender?

“If I’m talking to a guy I like on Instagram and want to share the convo, I am constantly worried that he’s going to get a notification that I screenshotted it,” Marissa, 22, tells Bustle.

In most cases, Instagram won’t notify the sender if you screenshot a DM, so whoever you’re talking to won’t be alerted to the fact that you’re saving parts of your conversation for posterity. However, the exception to this rule is if you screenshot a photo, video, or message sent with Vanish Mode on Instagram. Similar to Snapchat, a “vanishing DM,” like the name suggests, is a message sent in the Instagram DMs that is no longer visible after the other user has seen it. If you screenshot the Vanishing DM, the other user will get a notification.

Instagram rolled out Vanish Mode in September 2020 to allow users to have a conversation that disappears entirely after each message is seen. Messages where either you or your DM-recipient have toggled Vanish Mode on will say so at the bottom of the conversation thread. In order to turn on this feature, you have to go to your Instagram DMs and choose the chat you want to enable Vanish Mode on. Click on the chat and tap the info circle in the top right. Toggle on Vanish Mode; the background of the chat will turn black. (If you keep your phone in Dark Mode, the chat will look the same, but you won’t see a message history and the area where you type your message will have a dotted line around it.) The person on the other end of the DMs will see that Vanish Mode has been turned on in the same way — and so, will see if anything gets screengrabbed.

Siena Gagliano/Bustle

But is the idea of avoiding the DM screenshot for fear of notifying the screenshotted really so horrible? “The idea that anything and everything you do online could be— and let’s face it, probably is — captured by someone, somewhere, and then stored for future use, has imbued our lives online with a latent sense of paranoia,” wrote Kaitlyn Tiffany for the Atlantic. “I feel that screenshotting DMs can feel like an invasion of privacy,” Katelin, 21, tells Bustle. “I think especially in apps where photos can be shared, it’s important to get those notifications,” she says.

You can certainly screenshot any and all Instagram DMs, but the question is if the sender will be notified. The answer is pretty simple: it all comes down to Vanish Mode. So, next time you’re DMing your crush, keep an eye out for Vanish Mode, because if you screenshot that conversation, chances are, your cover will be blown.

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