[Fix] Why can’t I react to messages on Instagram

Instagram makes keeping in touch easy through pictures, videos, and direct messaging.

The direct messaging feature has a provision for direct reaction, which allows users to respond to messages using emojis to express their emotions with friends or family without typing out sentences, making communication simple, quick, and enjoyable.

The direct response feature however may malfunction sometimes. You may want to respond to a message but the pop-up menu refuses to show up, making it impossible to react to messages.

In this article, we shall explore possible reasons why you may not be able to react to messages on Instagram, and how to fix the malfunction.

The Instagram direct reaction feature can be affected by a poor internet connection, an outdated app, and the use of Instagram Lite. It can also be interrupted by glitches or temporary bans on an account, among others.

First, though, let’s remind ourselves of how to react to messages on Instagram.

How to react to messages on Instagram

The messaging feature on Instagram allows you to react to messages with emojis. To react to messages;

  1. Launch the Instagram app on your device
  2. In the top right corner is the paper plane icon – this is the Direct messages icon. You can tap on this to get a list of conversations
Direct messages icon of Instagram
  1. Check through the conversations from your different contacts and select the conversation to which you want to react.
  2. Tap and hold on to the message until an emoji menu appears above the message.Emoji menu
  3. Run through the menu and tap on your choice of emoji. This will immediately send the reaction to the message sender. 

Or you can tap on reply to write a text for a response to the message.

7 reasons you are unable to react to messages on Instagram

If you are unable to react to messages on Instagram, it may be one, or a combination of the following:

1. Poor connection

Instagram, like other mobile applications, functions with an internet connection. 

A stable internet connection therefore is vital for the smooth functioning of features. 

If your wifi or mobile data connection is not stable,  then this could be the reason for the inability to react to messages on Instagram.

2. Outdated app 

Instagram may make changes in functions and features or introduce new features. 

If the app you are using is not up to date, some features may not function as intended or not function at all. 

So, if you are failing to react to messages, it may be that your app is not the latest version and needs updating. 

3. Outdated features (messaging feature) 

Sometimes you may need to update particular features separately. If you have not updated the messaging feature, it may not be fully functioning, hence this could be the reason you are not able to react to messages on Instagram. 

4. Temporary glitches 

Of Course, glitches are part of technology, Instagram may sometimes experience temporary glitches which affect the functioning of the app or some features of it. 

A glitch may be one of the reasons you are unable to react to messages on Instagram. 

5. Account restrictions by Instagram; 

Instagram reserves the right to restrict some accounts, or certain features on some accounts. These may be either flagged accounts or simply new accounts that Instagram is trying to watch. 

If this is the case, then this feature may be restricted. 

Also, certain features may be restricted for certain regions or countries. It may be that this feature is restricted for your location, or has not been introduced. 

6. Instagram version (Lite) 

The Instagram Lite version is designed for limited storage and comes with limitations on the functionality of some features. 

If you are using the Lite version, you may not be able to use the messages reaction feature. 

fix the ‘I can’t react to messages on Instagram’ problem  

To fix the ‘I can’t react to messages on Instagram’ problem, these solutions should be able to help depending on what is leading to the malfunction:

1. Check internet connection

To fix the message reaction not working, you need to start by checking your internet connection. 

As Instagram functions on an internet connection, make sure that your connection is stable and reliable. 

You may have to change your internet source or restart your device to solve the internet issues. 

2. Update the Instagram app 

Fixing the “can’t react to Instagram messages” may require you to update your Instagram application to the latest version. 

App updates always come with improvements in existing features or completely new features. 

To update the Instagram app; 

  1. You can visit your app store
  2. Search for Instagram 
  3. Tap on the update option. This should be able to start the update and installation process
  4. Now you can open the app and check messaging to see if it has been solved. 

3. Clear app cache 

Temporary data that apps accumulate over time may affect the proper function of applications and sometimes particular features. 

To clear cache data on Android; 

  1. Go to your device settings; 
  2. Go to apps from the settings menu 
  3. Navigate the list of apps and tap on Instagram to go to the App info section 
  4. Tap on storage and clear cache, then open the app and try reacting again. 
Clear app cache of Instagram

This solution can help deal with temporary glitches that may be affecting the direct reaction feature. 

4. Restart or reinstall the app 

The can’t react to messages on Instagram problem may require that you restart your application to fix it. 

To restart the application, you will need to stop it by closing it and then open it again

Or, you may reinstall the app by; 

Visit your app store and search for Instagram

Then tap on the Uninstall option. This will remove the app from your device.

Uninstall Instagram app

Next, you will need to search for the app again from your device’s app store and select the Install option, and the app will download and install again. Try out the message reaction feature again.

5. Try another version 

If you are using the mobile application, you may want to try and use the Instagram web version to see if the problem will be fixed. 

6. Contact the support center 

Instagram has an all-time support staff that can handle different issues and restore your app’s enjoyment. 

If the issue has persisted, it may be best to contact the Instagram help center. You can do this within the app itself. 

Why can you only heart-react to messages on Instagram?

With Instagram’s message reaction feature you get to use the thumbs up, the smiley, sad face, angry, and the heart among many others.

But what if yours is only giving you the heart? If you are wondering why, read on.

By default, the heart emoji is Instagram’s quick reaction to direct messages. You do a quick reaction with a double-tap. This is why you always get the heart.

But, that’s not the end of it all. You can solve this. Here is how:

  1. Tap and hold. Instead of double-tapping the DM, you can tap and hold to get an emoji menu with more reaction options than just the heart icon. You can choose from the variety to react to the message. 
  2. Change the default emoji. Instagram gives you the liberty to customize your emoji reaction. With this option, you can still do a quick double-click but customize it to put your preferred emoji before you double-click. 

To do this; 

  • Tap and hold the message to get more emoji options. 
  • Tap on the + sign at the extreme right of the options bar. 
  • Tap on Customize. This will allow you to have the bar with the quick emoji response option at the top, and a box with even more options below. 
  • Now you can tap on the heart to select it, then tap on a preferred option from the box below. The preferred option will replace the heart as your quick DM reaction.
  1. Customize the Instagram emoji list

Even better, you can customize the entire list! By default, Instagram has some emojis in the quick list that show up first when you tap and hold. These besides the heart include the smiley, sad, and thumbs up. 

Instagram allows you to customize this list through the following steps; 

  • In your Instagram app on the first page, tap on the DM icon – this is in the top right corner
  • Select a conversation 
  • Tap and hold on a message to get the emoji list
Emoji reaction menu
  • Tap on the + sign to get a broader list
  • Tap on customize
  • Now you can tap each emoji in the upper bar and tap on a preferred emoji in the lower box to replace it. Make sure to do this for each emoji you wish to change. 
Emoji reaction menu
  • Then you can hit done, or the check symbol to confirm the changes. 


If I restrict someone on Instagram, will they know? 

Well, Instagram respects the user’s privacy and upholds their safety. Because of this, the app does not notify you of any user’s activity, so, when you restrict a user, delete or report another user. 


If you have been trying to react to messages on Instagram but have been unable to do so, you can apply one or more of the remedies provided in this article. 

With these, you should be able to react to messages and enjoy the Instagram experience. 

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Gloria Is an academician in the social sciences with more than five (5) years of lecturing. She has a passion for research and writing and has written a number of articles about social media. She loves journaling and poetry.

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