Those of us familiar with popular app, Snapchat, are well aware of its function to notify users of screenshotted content.
Similarly to Instagram, Snapchat is a free-to-use social media platform for exchanging photos, videos, and direct messages. And like Instagram’s Stories feature, the content is temporary; users can set how long they want their content visible for (once opened) – with 10 seconds as the maximum timeframe.
Due to its temporary nature, users have a common habit of screenshotting these messages. The catch is, the original sender is notified of your activity – so sneaky screenshots are a no-go.
This could either be a good or bad thing: good if it’s flattering to have someone save a well-crafted snap; bad if the user plans to use your content in a deceitful or inflammatory manner.
So what’s the point of this? Well, with Instagram just as prominent of a social media platform as Snapchat (if not far more); and with the two sharing plenty of similarities, it’s fair to assume the ‘Gram has the same notifications installed for screenshot-happy users.
But does Instagram really notify users of when you screenshot their content? Yes… and no (but mainly no).
Below, we break down the main types of Instagram content, and whether their screenshot-notification rules apply.
Does Instagram Notify When You Screenshot Posts?
There are plenty of reasons why one might screenshot or screen-record a photo or video. It may be an incredibly funny meme you’d like to keep for future use, a recipe to an interesting meal, or photo you’d like to save as your phone wallpaper.
Whatever the reason may be, keep doing what you’re doing. As of now, the platform doesn’t have notifications in place for screenshotting traditional posts. This applies to content displayed on your home feed, on the Explore page, and on individual user profiles.
The same applies for screen recordings; whether on your phone or on a desktop, users have no way of knowing whether their video content is screen-captured by a third party .
Does Instagram Notify When You Screenshot Stories?
Answer: No… but they used to.
In early 2018, Instagram sparked heavy discussion on their Stories feature – when users suddenly received notifications of having their Stories screenshotted.
It turned out the platform had been conducting notification tests, though it varied among users, with some completely unaffected. This caused social media buzz among those paranoid of having their screenshot-privacy “rights” breached, with others concerned of their content getting screenshotted without their knowing.
To the relief of many, the “tests” eventually stopped a few months later. That’s not to say they’re gone forever, as a spokesperson stated they were simply put on pause.
However, Story screenshots are safe for now – perfect for those wishing to preserve some temporary, yet quality, user content.
Does Instagram Notify When You Screenshot Profiles?
Whether it’s to save information from their bio, or to snap an overview of their feed as inspiration – Instagram does not notify users of profile screenshots.
Does Instagram Notify When You Screenshot Direct Messages?
Answer: Yes – but only for disappearing photos or videos.
Finally, we have direct messages. Unlike the other content types listed, certain DMs are the sole exception for screenshot notifications.
The rule exclusively applies to “disappearing” photos or videos. These shared posts, much like Snapchat’s content, are temporary photos or videos that disappear after a single viewing.
Users can easily send disappearing DM content by tapping on their Instagram Direct camera, taking a photo or video and tapping the “One View” option. (Instagram Direct offers both this option and the choice to keep a post in the thread permanently.)
Once sent, the image or video is removed after its one-view lifespan.
With these types of DMs, original senders are notified if the recipient screenshots their content. This appears as the status of the disappearing message (displayed in the thread as delivered, opened, replayed, or screenshot).
However, this function exempts all other types of direct message content. This means that screenshotting a text message or a shared user post will not result in a notification.
How to Avoid Screenshot Detection
Instagram is pretty relaxed on screenshot activity, at least for now. Save for disappearing DMs, users have the freedom of screenshotting any content they please, without fear of repercussions.
However, in case the platform does get heavy on their screenshot regulations; or if you’re really itching to screenshot that disappearing photo, below are a few easy ways of getting around that dreaded notification.
Go to Airplane Mode
A common tactic of evading detection is to simply turn on your phone’s “airplane mode” (do this after receiving a disappearing message).
Then, open or view your desired content, and screenshot as usual.
Once that’s done, close Instagram completely, and turn off airplane mode.
Should Instagram bring back notifications for screenshotted Stories, this can get a bit tricky. Users may only get access one or two photos or videos from a user’s Story while offline. Still, it’s a good enough hack for desperate times.
Use a Web Browser
Instagram apparently has no method of detecting screenshots via PC. Use this method with caution, however – as the platform may make future security changes to make this possible.
However, PC screenshots should be a safe workaround for now. All it takes is logging into Instagram’s desktop site and pressing “Prt Src” on your chosen Stories or posts.
Sadly, with the inability to access Instagram Direct on the desktop version, users are currently unable to use this tactic for disappearing messages.
Chrome Browser Extension: IG Stories for Instagram
If you want to go an extra step, you can also download the Chrome extension, “IG Stories for Instagram”.The application works in conjuction with Instagram’s desktop website, displaying an interface that displays your queued Stories.
The extension offers the additional options of viewing Live Stories, or downloading Stories as you view them.
Use Another Camera
If all else fails, you can also go the primitive route: using a separate camera.
Probably the safest tactic on this list, this method ensures that Instagram has no way of notifying others when you screenshot their content. You would need to borrow or have another device on hand, however.
Alternatives to Taking A Screenshot of Content
If sneaky tactics aren’t your thing, there are always other ways of “saving” content off Instagram.
Of course, the following won’t apply to disappearing messages, but they’re convenient, built-in methods for easily content to other users or people outside the platform.
1. Saving/Bookmarking Content
Each Instagram post has four main options underneath: the “like” button, the “comment” button, the “share” button – and on the far right – the “bookmark” button.
Bookmarking posts lets you save them to your personal collection of favourite Instagram photos or videos. These are accessed in your profile menu under “Saved”.
By default, any bookmarked post is saved to your “All Posts” folder. You also have the option, however, of creating specific folders (also known as “collections“) for categorizing your saved posts.
To do this, tap on the plus sign on the upper right-hand corner of your “Saved” page.
Type in an appropriate name for your new collection.
You can then add any existing posts from your “All Posts” folder, or keep it empty for now.
To delete a collection, tap on the three vertical dots on its right-hand corner, and tap on “Edit Collection”.
At the bottom of the page, tap on “Delete Collection”, and then “Delete”.
To add to your collections as you browse through Instagram, simply tap on the bookmark icon under posts, and select the “Add to Collection” option that pops up.
Then, select the collection you’d like to add your post to.
Sadly, this option is currently unavailable for Stories
2. Copying the URL
Another easy option for sharing Instagram posts is to simply copy their URL. You can then paste this the link to other platforms or messaging apps, instantly directing users to the post.
To copy an Instagram post URL, tap on the three vertical dots above the post.
Then, select “Copy Link”.
And that’s it! The URL is now saved to your clipboard, free to share among friends or other netizens. Once again, the feature is limited to traditional feed posts; the app currently lacks the option of sharing Story links.
3. Sharing The Post or Story
If you’re looking to share quality content among other users on Instagram, then your easiest method is through the app’s “share” function.
Among the “like” and “comment” options under a user’s post, you also have the option of “sharing” the image (or video) as a direct message.
To share a post as a message, tap the paper airplane icon below a post.
This pulls up a list of users you follow, each with a corresponding “Send” button. Just tap on this option to send the post as a DM.
Alternatively, you can search for other users who aren’t on your “Following” or “Followers” lists. There’s also the option of adding an additional message with your shared post.
Or, you can always share it on your Story for others to see.
Sharing Stories follows a similar process – when viewing a user’s story, tap the paper airplane icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. This pulls up the same list of users to share the Story with (though sadly, the option to share to your Story is currently unavailable).
Are There Apps That Help Notify You if Someone Screenshots Your Content?
You may stumble upon an app or two claiming to notify you of any content screenshots – though these services are best avoided.
As of now, there are no credible, Instagram-approved apps that serve this purpose; and those marketing themselves as so are likely outdated or scamming you of your online credentials.
It’s best to steer clear of these to keep your information secure. If you’ve already installed one, delete it immediately, and change your Instagram password just in case.
Even if they were authentic, using these apps violate Instagram community guidelines – specifically one term 24:
24. Respect the limits we’ve placed on Instagram functionality and the way Instagram looks and functions. Don’t offer experiences that change it.
If you’re truly worried of others screenshotting your content, we recommend the following best practices:
Go Private, If You Have To
While not ideal for businesses, casual users of the platform can keep their personal information secure by simply privatizing their account.
This ensures your feed is accessible to only those you trust – outsiders who wish to follow you will have to send a request for your approval.
To privatize your account, simply go to Settings > Privacy > Account Privacy, and select the toggle for a Private account.
Block Problematic Users
If going private isn’t an option, you can always block specific users from seeing your content.
This function is useful for those exhibiting harassment or problematic behaviour – whether on your public posts or in your direct messages.
To block a user, visit their profile and select the three vertical dots on the upper right-hand corner. Select “Block”, and confirm your action.
To restrict their interactions on your profile without blocking them completely, you can always choose the “Restrict” option. This blocks them from performing unwanted interactions without them knowing; only you and the other person will see their new comments on their posts, and they won’t be notified of when you’re online or when you’ve read their messages.
Of course, in more severe situations, it may help to report the user and escalate the situation to Instagram.
Keep Personal Stories Exclusive to Close Friends!
Since late 2018, users were granted the option of restricting certain Stories for only their “closest” friends to view. This allows you to exclusively publicize some on-the-go updates of your daily life, only to those who matter most.
To keep your Stories among “close friends”, select the star icon under your Story before publishing it.
If you haven’t created your it already, select the few you’d like to add to your “Close Friends” list. This won’t be publicized, and no one can request to be added, either.
Once you’ve published your story, a green ring will encircle your Story update (in place of the typical rainbow) when delivered to those in your “Close Friends” list.
Be wary of what you post online!
Of course, if you aren’t truly comfortable with the minuscule chance of having something publicized, it may be best to avoid posting it altogether. With sophisticated hacking tactics and cybercrimes about, no piece of information is truly foolproof-secure. We can only do our part in sharing safely and responsibly online – even on well-regulated platforms like Instagram.
Whether you’re relieved of the app’s lack of screenshot notifications; or paranoid of others screenshotting your content without consent, it’s important to follow best security practices and keep activity clean. At the end of the day – as long as you’re engaging in safe, respectful interactions, you should be just fine.