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What do Symbols and Icons on Instagram Mean?

Instagram Icons Explained

by Jayant

Ever wondered what those symbols and icons on Instagram mean? To provide the best user interface and user experience, Instagram has intelligently designed and placed those symbols and icons, but many users are not aware of those icons and what those icons do. If you are looking to find the meaning of different icons and symbols on Instagram, here is complete information about that.

Here you will find the proper meaning of different Instagram symbols and what those symbols actually do when you tap on them. Don’t get confused with Instagram symbol placement on your phone because Instagram keeps on pushing a new update to its UI and it gets changed over time. The meaning of Instagram symbols will remain the same irrespective of their position with the updated design.

Also See: What does NFS mean on Instagram?

Meaning of Instagram Symbols

We will sort this list by the different Instagram screens. For a better understanding and to know what Instagram icons mean, open Instagram on your device and test each Instagram icon on your own.

1. Instagram Home Screen Symbols Meaning

This is the first screen you see when you open Instagram on your phone. Let’s see what each symbol means on the Instagram home screen.

Heart Symbol


That is basically a notification center. It shows a notification whenever someone like a photo, reel, story and comments or follows you. It also shows notifications related to your Instagram account. If your Instagram account is private, you will also see the ‘Follow Requests’ under this heart icon.

Messenger Symbol


As the name suggests, this symbol will open the Chat section. This is an Instagram inbox that includes all the direct messages you received or send. Here you can also see who is active now on Instagram. Learn more about Active Today & Active Now meaning on Instagram.

This Instagram chat symbol is similar to the Facebook messenger because both are from the same parent company called Meta. Moreover, you can even sync Facebook Messenger and Instagram Chat.

If you don’t want to show yourself online, here is how to turn off your activity status on IG.

Home Symbol


If you are on another screen on Instagram and quickly wanted to go to the home screen, this home symbol will take you directly to the home screen. This home symbol also takes you to the top of the Instagram feed if you have scrolled a little deeper. By any chance, if Instagram is not updating the feed, you can clear the Instagram cache to make it work.

Lens Symbol


This search symbol helps you in exploring Instagram. When you tap on Search Symbol, you will find random posts, reels from other Instagram users. You can like, comment on posts and even follow people from Explore. You can also use this symbol to search for people on Instagram. Simply tap on the search bar at the top and enter the keyword and search for Accounts, Audio, hashtags, and Places on Instagram. So, Search Symbol means Explore & Search on Instagram.

Plus (+) Symbol


This symbol is used to post anything on Instagram. Whether it is a photo, video, Reel or if you want to go LIVE on Instagram. Whenever you want to post something on Instagram, tap on this + symbol and choose a photo, video, or Reel to post. See this guide if Instagram not letting you post anything.

Clapperboard with Play Icon


This clapperboard with a play icon means the Instagram Reels section which is super addictive. Tap on this icon and start watching endless reels. Simply scroll up to see the next reel. Instagram Reels are super addictive and make sure you manage your time accordingly. You can disable Youtube shorts but there is no way to remove reels. Instagram Reels icons are also explained in this same article.

Profile Symbol


This symbol will take you to your profile screen where you can see everything related to your profile. If you are seeing a Red dot at the bottom of your profile picture, that means there are unread notifications and messages in other profiles that you are managing. Tap and hold on to your profile picture to quickly see your other Instagram accounts.

2. Instagram Profile Screen Icons Meaning

When you tap on your profile at the right bottom corner, it will open your profile where you will see a couple of options. Let’s talk about them one by one.

Arrow Symbol Near Username


You will only see this arrow symbol if you are managing more than one Instagram account. Tap on the Arrow to switch to another account. You can also double-tap or tap & hold on your profile symbol to switch between accounts. If you are seeing a red dot near this arrow, that means there are unread notifications and messages in your other account.

Plus Symbol

At the top, you will see a plus symbol which has the same usage as we talked about earlier. But along with posting photos, reels, and stories and going LIVE, you can also add Story Highlights (explained below) and Guide for your followers. Using Guide, you can recommend Places, Products and Posts to your followers.

Accordion Menu


Just beside the plus symbol, you will see 3 horizontal lines which open up more options to manage your Instagram profile. You can open settings, see activity, see archived posts, and stories, get QR code to share your Instagram profile, see saved posts, add close friends and much more. See this to copy & share your own Instagram profile link.

Profile Tabs Icons


From left to right, these 3 tabs are Post grid, Reels and tagged posts. In the post grid, you will see all the photos, videos, and reels. In the Reels tab, you will see the reels posted by you only. If someone tags you in their posts, you can tap on the ‘Tag’ symbol and see the tagged posts. Above this grid, there is story highlights as you can see in the screenshot of my own profile.

Bell Icon


You will only see this bell icon when you are on someone’s profile. Tapping on Bell Icon will turn on the notifications. Whenever they post something or go live, you will get a notification. You can also turn on or off the notifications for stories, videos, and reels so that you never miss whatever they are posting on Instagram.

3-Dots Icon


Like the Bell icon, the 3-dots menu is also visible when you are stalking someone’s Instagram profile. Tapping on the 3-dot menu will open other options to report the profile, block them, copy their profile link, or restrict them. You can also choose to hide your story from them or to share the profile with others. Here is how to unfollow everyone on Instagram.

Plus Person Icon


You will see a little icon having + and person as icons. Tapping on this icon will open the Suggested profile for you. You can simply follow them or get more recommendations from Instagram.

4. Instagram Post Icons Meaning

On the home screen when you are scrolling through posts, you will see some icons around Instagram posts If you don’t know what that icon does on Instagram, here is everything.

If you are taking screenshot of someone’s post, you should see this to know if Instagram notify when you screenshot post.

Heart Icon


This Heart icon made Instagram so popular. If you want to like someone’s post, tap on the Heart icon and it will turn red. You can also double-tap on the photo to like the post. Once you like the post and the heart icon turns red, the other person will get the notification with your name.

Conversational bubble Icon


This comment icon is used to write or see the comments on the post. You can also mention someone in the comments by using @ followed by their Instagram username. With the latest Instagram update, you can even add GIFs to comments. If you don’t want comments on your Instagram post, you can turn off comments on Instagram.

Paper Plane Symbol


The paper Plane symbol on Instagram is used to send posts, videos, reels to your friends. Using this same icon, you can also share posts directly to your own Story. This is the icon that is used to send memes, funny videos to your friends.

Bookmark Icon


Suppose you saw a post or reel and now you want to save it to watch later or to get a reference. Simply tap on this bookmark icon and it will save on your profile. From the Accordion Menu icon in your profile section, you can access those saved posts. You can only see these saved posts within the Instagram app. For downloading, here is how to download Instagram reels, videos.

Strike off Volume Icon


Just above the bookmark icon to save the photo or video, there is another little icon that is only available on reels or videos. Tapping on that little icon will remove the strike-off mark icon and turn on the audio of the video. Tapping it again will turn off the audio.

Rounded Person Icon on Photo/Videos


On some posts, you will find a small person icon at the bottom left corner. That icon means that person who has posted the photo or video has tagged someone on their post. Tap on that icon and you will see the tagged person or brand page.

3-Dots Icon


It is an extended menu that contains a lot of options like sharing, getting post links, remixing the reel, getting a QR code of the post, adding to favorites, unfollowing the person, hiding the post and even reporting the post.

5. Instagram Reel Icons Meaning

The basic icons like Heart, Comment & paper plane icon & 3 dot menu are the same as the Instagram post screen, there are some other icons that are new on the Reel screen. Let’s talk about that.

Camera Icon


On the Instagram Reel screen, at the top right corner, you will see a camera icon. You can use that Camera icon to post a reel on Instagram. Tapping on the Camera icon will open a new screen with all the tools and effects you can use to create an engaging Instagram reel.

Music Cover Icon


This music icon is only visible on Instagram Reels. It shows the music/audio cover and tapping on that will open the next screen having all the Reels that are using that particular audio. On that same screen, you can save the audio and even share the music or audio in a direct message with friends.

Music Note Icon


There is another little icon on the Instagram Reel screen which means you can use that same audio to create a new reel. Tapping on that icon will open the camera with tools and effects.

6. Instagram Story Icon Meaning

On the Instagram story screen, there are a few icons that can improve your Instagram experience. Some icons are only visible in your own IG story and icons like hearts, paper plane icons & send messages are visible on other users’ stories.

Create Icon

When you post a video or photo in your story having any audio, you will see a ‘Create’ icon which basically means you can use that same audio in your Reel. Simply tap on Create icon and that audio in the story will be added to your Reel.

Share Icon

This icon lets you share your Instagram story outside Instagram like on Whatsapp, Facebook Feed, Reddit, Facebook Messenger, Twitter etc.


Loading Heart icon

This Instagram icon lets you add a story to your profile highlights. That story will remain forever and anyone visiting your profile can see these stories’ highlights.

3-Dots Menu

This Instagram icon will open another menu with a couple of options like deleting the story, adding a partnership label to your IG story, add mentions to IG story, copying the link of IG story and much more.

Send Message Icon

The following 3 options are only available on others’ Instagram stories. Using this message icon you can reply to someone’s story. This message will be delivered to their Instagram chat section. You can even react to their story with different emojis.


Heart Icon

Heart Icon on other users’ stories means you can like their stories if you want. It is similar to how you like photos and videos. The other person who has posted the story can see who liked their story.

3-Dot Icon on Someone’s IG Story

Using the 3 dots menu on someone’s Instagram story you can mute their stories, report the story, copy the Instagram story link, and share their story link outside Instagram.

Instagram Icons Explained: Conclusion

These are all the Instagram icons and symbols that are designed and placed to provide the best user interface. Initially, it might get confusing but once you start using Instagram, you will get used to all these Instagram icons and will know what Instagram symbols mean.

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