Why Can‘t I See Instagram Reels? (And How to Enable This Exciting New Feature)

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Wondering why you don‘t have access to Instagram‘s hot new short-form video feature called Reels? You‘re not alone. Many Instagram users around the world have been puzzled why Reels hasn‘t shown up on their accounts yet.

As a social media expert and tech specialist, let me explain exactly what‘s going on with the rollout of Reels, why some folks can‘t see it yet, and how to make sure you get Reels enabled on your Instagram app ASAP.

The Rise of Short-Form Mobile Video

First, let‘s take a quick look at the explosive growth of short-form vertical videos created and shared on mobile devices.

You‘re likely familiar with TikTok, the app that‘s risen to global dominance by letting users create and share 15 to 60 second videos set to music and augmented with creative effects. Well, TikTok has utterly transformed the social media landscape.

Just look at this data:

  • TikTok hit 1 billion monthly active users in 2021 and continues to grow rapidly
  • Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on TikTok
  • In 2020, TikTok became the #1 most downloaded app worldwide
  • As of 2022, experts estimate TikTok has over 1.5 billion downloads to date

It‘s clear that mobile users – especially millennials and Gen Z – are now craving short-form, entertaining video content. And this trend is driving every social media platform to incorporate short video features.

Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and others now offer TikTok-style short video formats. Instagram, with over 1 billion monthly users, is the latest to hop aboard the short-form video train.

Enter Instagram Reels.

Introducing Instagram Reels

In August 2020, Instagram launched Reels – a TikTok clone that let users create 15-second videos set to audio, with AR effects and editing tools.

After initial tests in Brazil in 2019, Reels was first released in France and Germany. In early August 2020, it expanded to 50 countries including:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • France

This list covers many of Instagram‘s top user bases, but Reels still has not reached all countries.

For context, here are some key stats on Reels so far:

  • Reels videos can be 15 seconds long (60 seconds in India)
  • There are AR effects, editing tools, and audio options
  • Reels can be shared to your Story or Profile Grid
  • The Explore page features trending Reels
  • Profiles have a dedicated Reels tab
  • There is a Reels-only viewing page for endless scrolling

So why can‘t some Instagrammers access Reels yet? Let‘s break down the key reasons.

Why You Can‘t See Instagram Reels

If Reels hasn‘t popped up on your Instagram feed or in your Stories camera yet, there are a few likely reasons:

Limited Rollout

The number one reason is Instagram has done a staged rollout for Reels, gradually enabling it for certain countries and users. They have not yet launched Reels globally.

Even in countries where it‘s available, only a portion of users can access it. Instagram said this is to test performance and work out any issues before full release.

So if Reels hasn‘t reached your Instagram account yet, you simply need to wait for the staged rollout to include your country and user profile. Expanding to 1 billion+ users takes time!

Outdated App Version

Another common reason is needing to update your Instagram app. Even if Reels is active in your country, you must have the latest app version for it to appear.

So if you‘re stuck on an old Instagram update, head to your app store and download the newest release. Just this one step could unlock Reels for you!

Device Compatibility Issues

Instagram has stated Reels will only work on iPhone 6S models and newer iPhones. For Android, you need Android 8.0 or newer.

If your current device is older than this, its hardware and software may not be compatible with the Reels feature.

While frustrating, the only fix is to either upgrade your mobile device or access Instagram from a newer iPhone or Android phone.

Account Restrictions

It‘s rare, but possible your individual Instagram account is prohibited from accessing new features like Reels.

This could happen if your account has been banned from certain activities. Only accounts in good standing can use Reels during the rollout period.

Check your account status under Settings > Account to see if restrictions are preventing Reels from appearing for you.

How to Enable Reels on Instagram

If Reels is available in your country but you still don‘t see it, use these troubleshooting tips to get Reels working on your Instagram:

Update the Instagram App

This critical first step ensures you‘re running the latest version of Instagram with Reels enabled.

On iPhone:

  1. Go to the App Store
  2. Tap your profile in the top right corner
  3. Check the Updates tab for the Instagram app
  4. If an update is available, tap ‘Update‘ to install it

On Android:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Tap the menu icon in the top left
  3. Tap ‘My Apps & Games‘
  4. Look for Instagram under ‘Updates‘
  5. Tap ‘Update‘ if available

Once updated, you should gain access to Reels.

Restart the Instagram App

Force quit and fully restart the Instagram app after updating to refresh the code.

On iPhone:

  • Double tap the Home button
  • Swipe up on Instagram to close it
  • Tap the Instagram icon again to relaunch it

On Android:

  • Open Recent Apps and find Instagram
  • Swipe the Instagram preview upward to close it
  • Tap the Instagram icon again to restart

This resets the app and loads the Reels feature.

Log Out and Log Back In

If Reels still isn‘t showing up, log out of Instagram completely and log back in.

To log out:

  • Go to your profile
  • Tap the menu icon in the top right
  • Select ‘Log Out‘

Close the app fully, reopen it, and sign back in with your username and password. Reels should now work after logging in again.

Check Account Restrictions

Go to your account settings and look under Account Status for any restrictions placed on your profile. If your account is in good standing, Reels should become available after following the tips above.

Update Your Mobile Device

If your iPhone or Android phone is too outdated, upgrading to a newer model may be the only fix. Or, try borrowing a friend‘s newer device to access Instagram and Reels.

If it works on a newer phone, yours likely needs an update to support Reels due to aging hardware or software. Time to go phone shopping!

How to Use Instagram Reels

Once you have Reels up and running, how do you access it and start creating your first Reels videos? Follow these steps:

Access the Reels Camera

To open the Reels camera:

  • Tap the camera icon in the top left of feed, or swipe right from anywhere
  • At the bottom, swipe right until you see the ‘Reels‘ option (next to ‘Live‘)
  • Tap ‘Reels‘ and the Reels video recorder will open

Record Clips and Edit

Now you‘re ready to start recording clips for your Reel:

  • Tap and hold the round capture button to record videos up to 15 seconds
  • You can record multiple clips to stitch together
  • Use the slider to adjust speed or timer
  • Browse audio tracks and sound effects to add music
  • Access AR effects like filters, backgrounds, and stickers

After capturing clips, tap the checkmark and you can start editing your Reel:

  • Rearrange clips
  • Trim clip lengths
  • Add text captions, stickers, drawings, and more
  • Adjust speed/duration of captions
  • Preview before sharing

Share Your Reel

When finished, tap Next and choose how you want to share your new Reel:

  • Post to your profile grid feed
  • Share as a story that disappears after 24 hours
  • Save as a draft to post later

Add a cover image, caption, and hashtags before posting your Reel for the first time!

Where to Find Reels on Instagram

Wondering where to watch and discover new Reels after the feature is enabled? Here are the key places to access Reels content:

Explore Page

The top Reel on Explore is highlighted in a large preview window. Tap it to enter the Reels viewer and start scrolling.

Reels Tab

The Reels tab at the bottom of the app lets you dive right into the Reels feed and discover new content.

User Profiles

Tap any user‘s profile, then select ‘Reels‘ at the top to view just that user‘s published Reels.

Shared to Feed

Reels also show up in regular Instagram feeds. Look for a "Reels" tag to identify them.


Some Reels may only be shared as disappearing 24-hour Stories. Watch for Reels in your Story tray.

Reels Notifications

You may get notifications when accounts you follow post new Reels. Tap to view them.

Reels Inbox

A new section called the Reels Inbox lets you easily see all Reels you‘ve been @mentioned in.

Explore all these access points as you watch, like, and comment on Reels!

Advanced Reels Strategies and Hacks

Once you get more comfortable creating Reels, use these pro tips and tricks to level up your Reels game:

Using currently viral songs or audio clips will help your Reels get viewed by more people. The Reels browse page highlights trending sounds.

Tap the Remix icon on any Reel to create your own spin by recording alongside it. Piggybacking on viral Reels expands your reach.

Post Frequently

Accounts that post Reels consistently appear more in the Reels recommendation tabs. Aim to publish new Reels 2-3 times per week minimum.

Engage With Your Audience

Comment back when people comment on your Reels. Reply to DMs about your Reels. Building engagement helps the algorithm recommend your Reels.

Use Relevant Effects

Browse recommended effects or get creative making your own using Spark AR Studio. Effects tailored to your niche help capture attention.

Collaborate with Co-Stars

Use the new Co-Star feature to invite friends or creators to collaborate on a Reel with you. Cross-pollinate audiences!

Share Reels Widely

Post your Reel to your Story, re-share it in a Story a few hours later, and cross-post it to other platforms too. Widespread sharing equals higher views.

Find Your Niche

Focus your Reels on a specific genre or topic you‘re passionate about. This cultivates a loyal, engaged audience.

Join Viral Challenges

Keep tabs on current viral Reels challenges. Create your own take by participating in trending memes or hashtag campaigns.

Monitor Your Analytics

Use the Insights page to see which Reels are your top performers. Study the data to sharpen your Reels strategy.

By sticking to these expert Reels tips, your content and viewer count is sure to grow rapidly. But most importantly, have fun and show off your unique style!

Troubleshooting Further Reels Problems

Hopefully the steps outlined above resolved any issues you had accessing Reels. But if you‘re still struggling, try these additional troubleshooting tips:

  • Contact Instagram support to report the problem
  • Try deleting and reinstalling the Instagram app
  • Clear the app cache and app data in your device settings
  • Ensure your device has the latest OS and app updates
  • Check your internet connection and try again on a stronger network
  • See if Reels works when logged into a different Instagram account
  • Remove any installed VPN service that could interfere with the Instagram API

My best advice is to reach out directly to the Instagram support team by email or through the in-app support options.

Detail when Reels became available in your country, what steps you‘ve taken, and any error messages you‘ve received. The more info you provide, the better they can diagnose the issue and get Reels enabled for your account.

Most access problems are simply fixed by updating the app. But for any ongoing Reels difficulties, Instagram‘s support team is equipped to help.

The Future of Instagram Reels

Now that you know all about troubleshooting access to Reels, let‘s dive into what the future looks like for this emerging Instagram feature.

Expanding Global Availability

Obviously priority #1 is launching Reels for 100% of Instagram users worldwide. Based on their staged rollout strategy so far, I predict expansion to over 100 countries by end of 2020, and full global access by mid-2021.

They need to rapidly grow Reels, so check for it regularly as new countries are introduced over the coming months.

Deeper TikTok Integration

Early steps like 10-minute time limits and adding TikTok-esque editing tools show Instagram plans to lean further into what makes TikTok so addictive.

Expect them to embed short-form video deeper into Stories, feed posts, ads, and more. The TikTok format will become ubiquitous across the app.

New Discovery and Sharing Options

Instagram is still experimenting with optimal ways users can find and share engaging Reels.

We‘ll see more tabs and surfaces specifically for watching Reels, and more options for remixing and circulating viral Reels – similar to duets and stitches on TikTok.

Shopping and Ecommerce

They already allow linking products. Soon, buying featured items directly within Reels will provide a new social commerce revenue stream – especially potent for influencer marketing.

Cross-Platform Portability

Reels will eventually work fluidly across Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger. The ability to cross-post and share Reels widely will be key.

Monetization Opportunities

I‘d expect Instagram to soon offer special bonuses and perks for top Reels creators, similar to the TikTok Creator Fund. More in-app monetization like gifting, tipping, and subscriptions will arise too.

Power users who master Reels early will be poised for major financial success as Instagram incentivizes the format.

The Instagram-TikTok Rivalry

Mark my words: the battle for short-form video supremacy will only intensify between Instagram and TikTok.

As they fight for a bigger piece of this lucrative mobile content category over the next few years, we‘ll see rapid new innovations that improve the experience and virality for users on both platforms.

The result? Everyone wins! We have lots of exciting advances in short-form mobile video content creation and consumption to look forward to thanks to this heated competition.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully you now have a comprehensive understanding of how and why Instagram Reels works the way it does.

To recap:

  • Reels is Instagram‘s version of short-form, 15-second vertical videos with music, effects, and more
  • They are gradually launching it for certain countries and user accounts through a staged rollout
  • Fully updating your app, restarting Instagram, and checking your account status can help troubleshoot access issues
  • Have patience while the Reels expansion continues over the coming months
  • Once you have it, tap into viral songs, effects, and editing tools to create captivating Reels
  • With practice and the right strategy, you can build a loyal audience and be discovered by new fans

At the end of the day, have fun expressing yourself creatively! Don‘t get discouraged if you can‘t see Reels yet.

Stay tuned for when Instagram flips the switch for your country and account in their rollout process. With Instagram Reels bringing an engaging new spin to social video, the future is certainly bright.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.