Despite how many notifications you might have enabled on your phone, there could be more hiding in Instagram's secret inboxes. Not familiar with Instagram's Message Request inbox? The feature is not dissimilar to the "other" inbox on Facebook — you know, the place where you find long lost messages from distant relatives and people you have no mutual friends with and maybe met at a bar in Before Times.
Instagram's special filters are for messages coming from accounts you don't interact with, i.e. people who are likely strangers or potentially bots or scammers. Since Message Requests don't trigger notifications, they may go unnoticed for quite some time. But since you probably want to know who's sliding into your DMS, here's how to get acquainted with your inboxes so that you don't miss the messages you do want to see, and can easily delete the messages you don't. Keep in mind that to ensure that messages that you do want to be notified about are not hidden, you'll want to check your inboxes regularly.
Your Instagram DM inbox will show up a little differently depending on if you have a regular or professional account. With regular accounts, you'll see if you have any message requests by toggling to your messages, and clicking on any "message request" fine print at the top of the page. (If you don't have any message requests, this notification won't show up.)
If you have a professional account, you'll see three options: Primary, General, and Requests. The primary inbox is the only inbox that you will automatically receive notifications for. Think of this inbox as your main DM hub. If you prefer to minimize your notifications, you can turn them off in Settings, which will make it so that you only see you have new Primary messages when you're on the app — the message icon on the upper right hand corner will have a pink number with the amount of unread messages you have. Messages will automatically live in your Primary inbox if they're from people you follow.
The General tab like a holding cell for messages you don't want to deal with right now. They might be messages that you want to keep unread until you have the time to address them, or messages from people that you don't know, but plan on looking into at a later date. You can move messages or threads from Primary to General by tapping the information icon on the upper right corner of the message thread, and then tapping "Move to Primary." You will not automatically be notified about messages in this folder, but if you want to be, you can turn notifications on in Settings.
When someone who you don't follow messages you, it will go into your All Requests folder — the most secret folder of them all. You can find this to the right of the Primary and General tabs. You can either accept or deny these requests, and they won't be marked as “seen” until you accept them, meaning, if you see a preview of a message from someone you don't want to engage with, they won't know that you've seen it. While this folder can hold spammy messages you'll decide not to accept, it's also the place a message from a potential new friend you don't have mutuals with will go.
If you find someone in your Request folder who belongs in your Primary folder, you can move it into your Primary or General tabs so they don't get lost in the shuffle again. To sort your requests, you can tap the filter button in All Requests and then tap Top Requests. If you have any requests from verified accounts, or accounts that Instagram thinks you might know, they will show up here and be organized by importance, not date. To clear this tab, you can accept, delete, or block.
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