Why Can’t I React to Messages on Instagram? [8 Simple Fixes]

October 13, 2023
why can't i react to messages on instagram

Wondering why can’t you react to messages on Instagram? Normally, Instagram allows you to quickly reply to direct messages with various emojis. But sometimes, the little pop-up menu just won’t show up.

I’ve been using the app for 8 years now, and I’ve come across this issue myself. Read on to find out why it happens and how to fix it with ease. I’ve also provided step-by-step instructions for your convenience. So, let’s get down to business!

What Is Instagram’s Direct Reactions Feature?

Instagram Direct Reactions is a feature that lets users react to direct messages using emojis. It simplifies communication and expressing emotions with friends on the platform without typing out a response.

To use it, tap and hold a message you want to react to, then select your desired emoji from the pop-up list. The recipient will receive a notification about your reaction. However, if you don’t see the pop-up, something’s wrong with the feature. Find out why below!

Why Can’t I React to Messages on Instagram?

Here are the most common reasons for this issue:

Outdated App

In my experience, you’re usually unable to react to messages due to an outdated Instagram app. Ensure you’re using the latest version.

Instagram Messaging Not Updated

If you haven’t updated the messaging option on Instagram, you might face this issue. The new update introduces several functionalities, including emoji reactions.

Poor Internet Connection

A stable internet connection is crucial. If you’re using an unstable Wi-Fi or mobile data connection, you might face difficulties reacting to messages.

Privacy Settings

If the privacy settings of the person you’re trying to react to are restricted or blocked, you won’t be able to react.

Using Instagram Lite

Instagram Lite, designed for limited storage capacity, has restricted functionalities. If you’re using this version, you won’t be able to react to messages.

Account Restrictions

Instagram might restrict certain features for new or flagged accounts.

Temporary Glitches

Sometimes, Instagram might face temporary glitches affecting specific features. Usually, these resolve on their own after a while.

Settings or Permissions

Ensure that emoji reactions haven’t been accidentally disabled in your settings. Also, check whether Instagram has the necessary permissions on your phone.

How To Fix Message Reactions Not Working on Instagram

Try these fixes to resolve the issue and chat with your friends without any restraints:

1. Update the App

Always ensure you have the latest version of Instagram. Check the App Store or Google Play Store for updates.

2. Update Instagram Messaging

Instagram frequently updates its messaging system to introduce new features, improve user experience, and fix bugs. If you’re using an older version, you might not have access to some of the newer features, including the ability to react to messages.

Here’s what you should do:

1. Open the Instagram app and navigate to your profile by tapping on the profile icon at the bottom right.

2. Tap on the three horizontal lines (often referred to as the “hamburger” menu) located at the top right corner.

hamburger menu on instagram

3. Scroll down until you find “Update messaging” and tap on it.

update messaging on instagram

4. A prompt will appear, asking if you’d like to update. Tap “Update.”

Wait for the update process to complete. Once done, you’ll have the latest messaging features enabled.

3. Check Your Internet Connection

A poor internet connection can hinder the app’s functionalities. So, you should:

  • Check your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.
  • Restart your router or switch to a different network.

4. Check Privacy Settings

Instagram’s privacy settings allow users to control who can interact with them, view their content, and send them messages. If you or the person you’re trying to react to has certain privacy settings enabled, it might prevent reactions to messages.

So, you should ensure the user you’re trying to react to hasn’t been blocked or restricted. Follow these instructions:

1. Tap on the Instagram icon on your device to launch the app.

2. Hit the profile icon located at the bottom right corner of your screen.

3. Tap on the three horizontal lines located at the top right corner of your profile page. From the dropdown menu, select “Settings.”

4. In the Settings menu, tap on “Privacy.”

privacy settings on instagram

5. Select “Messages.”

messages privacy settings on instagram

6. In “Message controls,” check whether you’ve enabled message requests from the appropriate users.

message controls on instagram

5. Clear Cache (Android Only)

Over time, apps store temporary data known as cache. This data can sometimes cause the app to malfunction or slow down. Clearing the cache can help in resolving issues and improving the app’s performance.

Here’s how:

1. Navigate to your device’s main “Settings.”

2. Scroll down and select “Apps.”

3. Search for “Instagram” and tap on it.

4. Once inside the app’s info page, tap on “Storage.”

instagram app storage on android

5. You’ll see two options: “Clear Storage” and “Clear Cache.” Tap on “Clear Cache.

instagram clear cache on android

6. A prompt might appear, asking for confirmation. Confirm the action.

Once the cache is cleared, restart the Instagram app and check if the issue is resolved.

6. Restart or Reinstall the App

Sometimes, simply restarting the app can solve the issue. If not, consider reinstalling it.

7. Use Desktop Version

If you’re having no luck with the mobile app, you can use the desktop version instead. It offers the same features, including emoji reactions.

8. Contact Instagram Support

If you’ve tried all the above solutions and still can’t react, it might be a unique issue related to your account. Contacting Instagram Support can help get personalized assistance. Follow these steps:

1. Open the Instagram app on your device.

2. Navigate to your profile by tapping on the profile icon at the bottom right.

3. Tap on the three horizontal lines located at the top right corner.

4. From the dropdown menu, select “Settings.”

5. Scroll down and tap on “Help.”

instagram help

6. Choose “Report a Problem” from the list of options.

report a problem on instagram

7. Select the relevant issue you’re facing, in this case: “Something isn’t working.

8. Describe the problem in detail, mentioning that you can’t react to messages on Instagram.

9. Tap “Submit” or “Send” to send your report.

Wait for a response. Instagram Support might reach out to you via email or within the app with potential solutions or further questions.

Additional Resources To Fix the Issue

Furthermore, you can consult these useful channels for assistance:

  1. Instagram Help Center: This is the official help center provided by Instagram. It covers a wide range of topics and frequently asked questions. You can search for specific issues and find step-by-step solutions.
  2. Reddit Instagram Community: On this platform, users discuss issues and share fixes based on their experiences. It’s a great place to find solutions from other users who might have faced similar problems.

You may also be interested in:

How To React to Messages on Instagram?

After applying the fixes mentioned above, here’s how to react to messages on Instagram:

1. Tap on the Instagram icon on your device to launch the app.

2. Navigate to Direct Messages (the paper plane icon at the top right corner).

3. Tap on the conversation where you want to react to a message and select a message.

4. Tap and hold on the message until a set of emojis appears above it.

emoji reaction pop-up on instagram

5. Slide your finger to the desired emoji and release it to send the reaction. The recipient will see your reaction below the message.

instagram direct reactions emoji


So, why can’t you react to messages on Instagram? According to my research, it’s most often due to the app being outdated, restrictive privacy settings, and temporary glitches.

Once you understand the reasons, it’s fairly easy to address them. Remember to keep your app updated, follow the platform’s guidelines, and ensure a stable internet connection. If all else fails, reaching out to Instagram’s support can be a viable option.

Feel free to share your experiences with this issue in the comments below!

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