What Instagram Symbols and Icons Truly Mean? (Fact Check)

cover of symbols and icons instagram

Instagram loves to switch up its symbols and icons every now and then, which can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re new to the platform. So, to make your Instagram journey a bit smoother, I’ve put together a handy list of Instagram symbols and their meanings.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that the placement of these symbols might differ depending on the device you’re using. Instagram tends to shuffle things around in its interface. But don’t worry, the meanings behind these symbols stay the same, no matter where they pop up on your screen. So whether you’re a seasoned Instagram user or just starting out, this guide will help you decode those mysterious symbols as you scroll through your feed.

What Exactly Do Symbols and Icons Instagram Mean?

1. Instagram’s Home Screen Symbols Meaning

The icons at the top of the app

Arrow Icon Next to Instagram Logo: This handy icon allows you to toggle between two feed formats: Following and Favorites. The “Favorites” option displays posts exclusively from the accounts you’ve selected.

Heart Icon: Keep an eye on this icon for your Instagram notifications. It’s your go-to spot for updates on likes, comments, and more.

Messenger Icon: Resembling the Facebook Messenger logo, this icon grants you access to your Instagram inbox. Dive in here to catch up on your messages and connect with others.

The icons at the bottom of the app

Home Icon: Tapping this icon whisks you away to your Instagram feed from any other screen. If you’re already on the feed, a tap will smoothly transport you right back to the top.

Magnifying Glass Icon: Ready for exploration? This icon leads you to the Explore and Search feed, where Instagram curates videos and photos tailored to your interests. Feel free to search for reels, posts, profiles, and more by tapping the search bar at the top.

+ Icon: Time to create! This versatile icon grants you the power to whip up new posts, stories, live broadcasts, or Reels videos with just a tap.

Reel Video Icon: Enter the world of Instagram Reels with a tap on this icon, taking you straight to the Reels feed. Swipe up to discover a wealth of fresh Reels content.

Profile Picture: Your digital identity hub awaits! Tap here to navigate to your profile. And if you’re juggling multiple Instagram accounts, simply long-press this icon to effortlessly switch between them.

2. Meaning of Symbols on Instagram Posts

Checkmark Icon: When you spot a blue checkmark icon next to a user’s name, it signifies that the profile is verified, adding an extra layer of authenticity.

Three-Dot: Hovering on the top-right side of a post, the three-dot icon unveils a menu of options like Remix, QR code, Unfollow, Hide, and more, providing a variety of choices for interacting with the content.

Person Icon: Encountering a person icon within a post indicates that someone has been tagged. Tap on the post to uncover the username of the tagged individual, offering a direct link to their profile.

Loudspeaker Icon: This icon serves as an indicator of whether the post’s audio is muted. If you notice a bar on the Loudspeaker, it implies that the video’s sound is turned off, ensuring a noise-free viewing experience.

Icons beneath the post

Heart Symbol: The heart symbol functions as the classic Like button. A single tap turns the heart red and registers a like on the photo. Alternatively, you can double-click the photo to express your appreciation. Learn how to access all your liked photos and explore options for hiding likes on your Instagram posts.

Chat Bubble: This icon directs you to view the comments section beneath a post or to contribute a new comment yourself. Discover how to access a comprehensive list of all the comments you’ve made on Instagram.

Paper Plane Icon: Tapping this icon facilitates sharing or downloading the post. Additionally, you have the option to incorporate it into your Instagram story for further engagement.

Bookmark: Use this icon to save the post to your collections for future reference. To access your saved posts, navigate to your Instagram profile screen and tap the three-bar icon at the top. From the menu, select “Saved.” Remember that saved posts are private and only visible to you.

3. Meaning Behind Instagram Message Icons

Icons on the Instagram Chat List Screen

Red Dot: A red dot adjacent to your name indicates unread messages across your other accounts.
Video Camera Icon: Tap this icon to initiate a new video call.
Pencil Icon: Utilize this icon to commence a new personal or group chat.
Camera Icon next to message thread: This icon enables you to dispatch a standard or vanishing photo directly to the user from the chat list.
Bell With a Slash: Signifies that the chat is muted.
Pin Icon: Indicates that the chat is pinned to the top of the list.

Icons Within an Instagram Chat

Phone Icon: Initiates an audio call with the individual.
Video Camera Icon: Commences a video call.
Paper Plane Icon: Forwards the image or video to another Instagram user.
Bookmark Icon: Saves the photo or video to a collection, creating a folder for preferred posts or reels within each chat.
Camera Icon: Sends a picture or video to the user.
Microphone Icon: Initiates a voice note.
Gallery Icon: Sends a picture from the phone’s gallery.
Sticker Icon: Dispatches an avatar, sticker, or GIF in a chat.

4. Instagram Profile Page Icons Meaning

Icons for Your Own Profile Page

Arrow Icon Next to the Username: Tap to view and switch between multiple accounts, if applicable. A red dot indicates unread notifications in one of the other accounts.

@ Icon: Represents Threads, Meta’s new app. Tap to navigate there or install it.

+ in a box: Tap to create a Reel, Post, Story, Highlight, or Live.

Three-bar Icon: Tap to access Instagram Settings.

Person with + Icon: Tap to explore and discover new people to follow.

Icons under the Edit Profile button

9-grid icon: Displays all your Instagram posts in a grid layout.
Reel icon: Accesses all your published Reels.
Person Icon: Navigates to your tagged posts. Tap to switch to this view.

Icons on Another Person’s Profile

Bell Icon: Tap to receive notifications for the person’s story, Reel, IGTV, etc. A checkmark appears when notification types are enabled.
Three-dot icon: Access options like Block, restrict, hide story, copy URL, etc.
Arrow Icon next to the Following Button: Mute, restrict, unfollow, or add to Close Friends list.
Down Arrow Icon: Provides additional contact options and suggests accounts.

5. Meaning Behind Instagram Story Symbols

While viewing stories

Send a message box: Tap the “Send message” button to reply to the story creator. You’ll find quick reaction smileys—tap to send one or use the GIF icon to send a GIF. Alternatively, type your reply in the message box.

Heart Icon: Tap to like the story. The like won’t be sent in the DM.

Paper Plane: Use this icon to send or share the story via Instagram or other apps.

Icons that happen while creating stories

Two Arrow Icon: This icon shifts the story tools to either side of the screen.

Lightning Icon: It toggles the flashlight between On, Auto, and Off modes.

Settings Icon: Use this to adjust camera settings for stories, reels, or live videos.

Two Curved Arrows at the bottom: Tap to switch between the front and back cameras.

Icons Show Up When Editing Stories

Two Arrow Icon: Adjust photo zoom.
Aa Icon: Insert text.
Smiley Icon: Attach stickers.
Three Stars: Apply effects.
Music: Include music.
Three-dot: Access menu.
Arrow Icon (At the bottom): Tap to share the story, add it to close friends, or send in a message.

Icons In the Text Tool

Four Lines Icon: Adjust text alignment (right, left, or center).
Color Palette Icon: Select text color.
A with two stars: Add background color to text.
A with two lines: Animate the text.

6. Instagram Reels Symbol Meanings

On Instagram Reels, you’ll encounter familiar icons with the same functions as those found on posts:

Camera Icon: Create your own Reel.
Heart Icon: Like the Reel.
Chat Bubble: Comment on the Reel.
Paper Plane Icon: Share the Reel.
Three-Dot Icon: Access the Menu for sharing, content preferences, remixing, etc.
Sound Icon: Navigate to the audio page of the sound used in the video.

7. Icons in Instagram Live Video

Number at the top: Indicates the current count of viewers watching the live video.
+ Plus Icon: Opens a menu, revealing another + icon within a video camera. Tap it to request to join the live video.
? Question Mark in a Chat Bubble:
Paper Plane Icon: Allows you to share the live video with others.
Heart Icon: Like the video by tapping this icon.

Last thoughts

In wrapping up, exploring Instagram symbols and icons is like decoding a secret language of sorts. Whether it’s the basic heart symbol or the fancy emoji combos, each one tells a unique story about online culture. When we get what these symbols mean, we can chat more clearly and connect better with others on social media. So, next time you’re on Instagram, remember: those little icons aren’t just for show—they’re keys to understanding and expressing ourselves in this digital world.

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