Unlike Facebook, which created a separate app in Facebook Messenger to support user messaging services, Instagram has a built-in feature that allows users to send each other direct messages in the Instagram app. If you are a popular Instagram user, you might get swamped by direct messages from fans, friends, or business opportunities.
That’s great news at the end of the day, but having a ton of messages means that you have a lot to keep track of, and sometimes you make a mistake. You never realize how important an Instagram message can be until you have deleted it, either by accident or on purpose. If you’ve found yourself needing to recover messages from your Instagram DMs, don’t worry.
Deleted Instagram messages are not as permanently gone as you might expect them to be. In fact, there are a few reliable ways to get back your lost Insta messages. What makes it better is that almost all of the best methods work just as well for iPhones as well as they do for Android phones.
Method 1: Asking the Person to Resend the Messages You Deleted
Much like with text messages, if you delete a conversation or specific messages from your phone or account will only be deleted from your account. This means that after you delete something, the other person you were having the conversation with will still be able to see the messages.
Almost every person-to-person messaging service operates this way, especially those associated with social media. So you might have been subconsciously aware of this possibility, just not thinking about it in a frantic state.
There isn’t much to this method besides asking someone to resend messages, and though it might be a bit embarrassing, it should be completely free. If more than just their messages are important for you to recover, you can also ask if they can screenshot all the deleted messages and send them to you.
Of course, this is only possible if you are still in contact with the person, or they are willing to help you out and resend the messages or provide screenshots. If you, say, deleted messages because you got in a fight with someone and still aren’t on speaking terms, then you probably won’t be able to just ask them nicely to send back a bunch of old messages.
In a similar vein, if you are conducting a business exchange through Instagram DMs, and you accidentally delete them, it can be a bad look for you and make some people reconsider having business deals with you.
If you aren’t in a position to ask the other Insta user to send the messages again, then you will need one of the more tech-related solutions below.
Method 2: Recovering Your Deleted DMs With a Connected Facebook Account
You might not be aware of this, but Instagram was purchased by Facebook a few years back, so the two services have a ton of features that overlap and interact with each other. Among these features is the ability to link you direct messages you get from both accounts, and with that, you can recover the messages you’ve lost from your Instagram account using your Facebook account.
Note, this method can only be done from a desktop, so if all you have on hand is an iPhone, maybe wait until you can get access to a computer. Also, if you didn’t already have a Facebook account, then this won’t be of any help, so maybe skip ahead to one of the other methods.
First, open up the Facebook mobile site. If you haven’t by this point, you’ll need to connect your Instagram and Facebook accounts. Otherwise, you won’t be able to recover your Instagram data.
From Facebook’s homepage, there is a pop-up menu on the left side of the screen, past where your profile information would be.
When you open this menu, there is an icon for Instagram direct. Here, you’ll be able to view all the Instagram Direct messages from inside Facebook, even ones that you have previously deleted from Instagram. If even that doesn’t seem to work, don’t worry. There are plenty of other reliable options that you can try.
Method 3: Recover Deleted Instagram Direct Messages with A Backup Data Download
It might have become apparent by now, but just because you deleted Instagram DMs from your phone, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist somewhere else. This includes Instagram’s main servers.
This wouldn’t matter for most other social media sites, but Instagram allows users to download a copy of all their account data. This includes all your direct message data.
You may have already been aware of this feature, so you might have already downloaded your Instagram data just to have a backup in case something weird happens. If that is the case, depending on when you downloaded the data copy and when you deleted the direct messages you are trying to recover, you might be able to go back into that save already and find the messages you are after.
If you’ve never done this before, or if the saved data didn’t line up correctly, then here is a quick guide on how to get a data-copy of your Instagram account:
Go to the Instagram website on a desktop. You can do a similar overall process on a Mac, but the file types and such will be different. Either way, this is another method that can only be accomplished by way of a proper computer.
Open up your profile by clicking the account settings icon in the top right corner of the screen -- it looks like a person’s silhouette.
Once you get to your profile, click on the gear icon at the top right, next to the “Edit Profile” button. This will bring up a pop-up window menu, and from it, you will want to select “Privacy and Security.”
You’ll get taken to a menu -- scroll through it and find the “Data Download” header. Just underneath the header should be the “Request Download” button. Click on that option.
You will be asked to verify your identity before you can start the download of your account information. Luckily, this is as simple as selecting “Log In Again” and entering your Instagram account credentials again.
After verification, you will need to enter a valid email address. An email will be sent to this email account that will contain a link to a data copy of your Instagram account, including posts, photos, messages, and so on. Once you have your preferred email entered, click “Next.”
You’ll need to enter your Instagram account password one more time before clicking “Request Download” again. Within 48 hours, you should receive an email in your inbox with the subject line “Your Instagram Data.”
Go to your email inbox, open the email from Instagram, and select “Download Data.” This will cause your device to download all the information about your Instagram account as a ZIP file.
Conveniently, this software is programmed to name all of the files with the kind of data they contain after the ZIP file has been extracted and unpacked. You will find a file called “messages.json” either in the downloads of your computer or under the “This PC” tab. Right-click on this file, and open it with your choice of text-editor software to see all of your messages.
Also, while it isn’t an official step in the process, you’ll probably want the extra tip. Since you are opening these messages with a text editor on a computer, you’ll be able to use the (Ctrl+f) command to search for keywords. This will save you a bunch of time and scrolling to find the exact messages you were looking for.
But let’s say, hypothetically, you still aren’t able to get your Instagram DMs retrieved from being deleted. Or perhaps you don’t have up to 48 hours to wait for your data download. For whatever reason, when the official avenues fail you, then there are always some third-party tools. It works for Instagram repost apps and it will work for getting Instagram messages back too.
Method 4: Recover-Instagram-Messages Using Third-Party Data Recovery Software
As they say, nothing on the internet is ever truly lost. Maybe you, your friends, and even Instagram’s servers don’t have your deleted DMs anymore, but they are out there somewhere, and using a recovery tool is one of the best ways to find them. Depending on the type of devices you use, you’ll need a different recovery tool to get your messages back.
There is a wide range of data recovery tools that you can use for iPhones, the main difference being paid or free software. As you can expect, the paid software will often work much better, but having to pay for this service can turn some people off from wanting to use the more robust software.
You can have the best of both worlds by taking advantage of the fact that many of these paid services offer free trials. You rarely have to do an Instagram message recovery more than a couple of times, so you can often get all the use you’ll ever need out of a free trial.
iPhone Data Recovery
Note, this way also works for most iOS devices that aren’t outdated. That includes iPads and iPods that are capable of running at least iOS 13 or 14. You’ll also need both a desktop or Mac and the device where you deleted the Instagram message from. Also worth noting that some of this software requires your computer to have iTunes installed, so make sure to do that.
The first step will be to find a data recovery tool that you are happy with. There isn’t a hard and fast guide on that kind of thing, just whichever one you find that suits your needs. Once you have that figured out, download that software onto your PC or Mac and run it. Then, connect your iOS device to your computer via a USB cable.
If required by your software, allow the devices to sync together. Most of the software will allow you to differentiate what kind of data you want to recover. Check all the boxes for anything you are interested in, but in this case, you’ll want to make sure you have messages checked off. Then click the button to begin scanning your device for deleted data.
You’ll get a preview screen that contains all deleted data that was found on your device. You can recover that data by hovering over it and selecting to recover the data to your PC/Mac. If you have a ton of things to recover, then you’ll instead want to check off the messages in the client and restore all of them at once.
Bonus Recovery Method
This is not an official recovery method, but it can save some people a lot of unnecessary hassle, so it feels like it is worth mentioning. iOS devices in particular have access to Apple’s iCloud service. Depending on the level of your iCloud storage and the various options you have selected, your Instagram data can get saved to your iCloud -- this includes messages you may have deleted from your phone.
This won’t be a useful avenue for most people because iCloud space is usually reserved for more important things. However, it doesn’t hurt to check. You could end up saving yourself from having to figure out one of these other methods when it could have been just as easy as looking at your iCloud account.
Android Data Recovery
This process looks just about the same as the iOS data recovery route. The main differences will be the software interface, a few small steps needed specifically when dealing with Android devices, and that you can only use a desktop for these kinds of devices. Also, since Android devices run off a system that is more open-source than iOS devices, you can sometimes use this software to recover WhatsApp data and things like your call history.
Firstly, decide on a recovery software, download it, and run it. Before plugging in your device to your PC, enable USB debugging on your Android device. Figure out the software interface to scan for deleted messages and run that on your device once it is connected to the software.
Much like with the iOS devices, you’ll get a preview screen of everything the data recovery software could find, and the option to save specific things that were found or just recover them all to your PC.
Recovering Instagram Messages with the Online Recovery Tool
It would be a bit of a miss to discuss this topic without covering this service. No doubt, if you’ve searched for answers to the issue of recovering deleted Instagram DMs, then you have come across this service offering an easy way to take care of the problem online and with no special equipment.
Instagram Message Recovery is a website-based service that was allegedly developed by a former Instagram employee. It allows you to recover deleted Instagram data by just logging into your Instagram account through their service. It sounds a bit sketchy, and most things that sound sketchy turn out to be sketchy, but the service does work as best we can tell. Here is a quick run-through of the process of using the website.
First, open up the website, or use the link provided above. Whatever way you get to it, the main page should look like a login platform. Use your Instagram account credentials -- your username and password -- to log into the website. You will be asked to complete some short human verification tasks to make sure you aren’t a bot trying to mess with other people’s accounts.
After you complete the verification, you should be able to click on a button and be shown all of the messages you have deleted from your Instagram account. If you read that and think it is too good to be true, you are a little right. Instagram Message Recovery is not affiliated with the official Instagram team in any way, so they are not obligated to uphold any of Instagram’s privacy policies. And they are asking you for your account information as part of helping you out.
So, it looks an awful lot like a scam. But it’s a scam that works, sort of. Based on what we have found, you can use this website to recover the Instagram messages you have deleted. However, as soon as you can, change your Instagram account credentials to prevent the website from using them for any nefarious purposes.
For the most part, though, you should not have to resort to using this fifth method of recovering deleted Instagram messages. The first four work just as well, more reliably, and are significantly less likely to compromise any of your personal data. Of course, if you are in desperate need of getting your lost DMs back, then you can certainly give this method a try. Just remember our advice about changing your account credentials as quickly as you can after using Instagram Message Recovery.