How to know if someone is online on Instagram – Can you tell?

On Instagram, it may well come in handy to know as and when other users are online. The most common reason why you might want to know this is if you are trying to get hold of someone and you want to know whether you can expect a response or not by contacting them via the direct messaging part of Instagram.

In this article, we are going to look at whether Instagram does provide this feature, while also looking at other ways to potentially find out if someone is online on Instagram.

How to know if someone is online on Instagram – Is it possible?

The good news is that yes, it is possible to know if someone is online on Instagram. The bad news is that it isn’t as simple as it is on Facebook. In other words, Instagram doesn’t provide you with a list of all online followers, but if you do enough digging then you can find out who is currently active.

Facebook has a section built into their platform which lists all of your friends who are currently active, and many people wonder whether Instagram follows suit. After all, Instagram is owned by Facebook so we know for a fact that their digital team is capable of creating this functionality.

The most common way of finding out if someone is online is by heading to someone’s profile and instigating a direct message conversation with them. You don’t need to actually send them a message, as you can see their last active status just by opening the DM.

Once you’ve done this, all being well you should be able to see if they are active now and if they aren’t then when they were last active. For step-by-step instructions on this process, see below:

  1. Log in to your Instagram account via the mobile phone app.
  2. Use the search bar to search for the name of the person whose online status you wish to check.
  3. If they are a follower or someone you follow, then you may be quicker finding them via your followers and/or following list on your profile.
  4. Once on their profile, select the message button.
  5. This will direct you to a direct messaging screen. On the top of this screen, you will see the person’s name along with information about their online status. It will either say they are active now or active ‘x minutes/hours/ ago.

Although this method will work the majority of the time, there are instances where you will select to direct message someone and nothing will come up about their online status.

The reason for this is all to do with Instagram’s activity status., which can be turned on and off fairly easily.

Turning your activity status on and off

By turning your activity status off, you are essentially making yourself invisible on Instagram when it comes to other users knowing when you are online.

Therefore, if you can’t see if someone is online, or when they were last online, then it is likely going to be because they have turned their activity status off.

To check whether your activity status is turned on or not, please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Instagram account via the mobile phone app.
  2. Select your account icon on the bottom right hand side of the screen.
  3. Once on your profile, select the three lined icon on the top right hand side of the screen and select ‘settings’ from the drop down menu.
  4. Select privacy and then scroll down until you see ‘activity status’.
  5. If the toggle next to ‘show activity status’ isn’t selected then it means that your online status won’t be showing to others. If it is selected then it means that other users on Instagram will be able to see your online status using the method outlined above.

Please note that if you do elect to turn your activity status off then not only does it mean other people won’t be able to see your online status, but it also means that you forego your rights to see other users’ online status.

In other words, you can’t have the best of both worlds – you need to leave your Instagram online status on if you want the ability to see others.

An alternative method to finding out if someone is online

There is one other way in which you can figure out if someone is online on Instagram or not, however this won’t give you concrete answers. Instead, it will just give you a good idea of as and when someone was last active.

This method involves basically visiting someone’s profile and seeing when they last uploaded a post or something to their story.

If they have recently posted something new then there is every chance that they are still online. If it has been a while since they posted anything, then they are more likely to be offline than online.


To conclude, finding out if someone is online or not on Instagram isn’t the most difficult of tasks. Though it can be a little bit harder to find the owner of an Instagram account, checking whether someone is online is easy.

Providing you know how to navigate the app to land on someone’s profile and to then strike up a direct message with them, then you should be able to see when they were last active on the app.

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Andy is a Professional Content Editor with expertise in a whole host of areas (or so he tells us anyway). His main interests are sports, tv/film and social media. He has reviewed over 100 apps so far for Apps UK.

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