Mastering Instagram Reels: Learn to Pause and Control Playback

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are short-form, entertaining video clips that can be up to 90 seconds long. They are Instagram’s answer to the rising popularity of TikTok and allow users to create and share fun, creative videos with filters, music, and other creative tools.

The Reels feature was launched in 2020 and has quickly gained traction on Instagram, with the platform prioritizing Reels in its algorithm and feed. Reels offer several advantages over regular video posts:

  1. Discoverability: Reels have their own dedicated space on Instagram, making it easier for users to discover new content and creators based on their interests.
  2. Creative Tools: Instagram provides a wide range of creative tools for Reels, including augmented reality filters, music integration, speed controls, and more, allowing users to create engaging and visually appealing videos.
  3. Shareability: Reels can be easily shared not only on Instagram but also on other platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, increasing their potential reach and virality.
  4. Monetization: Instagram has introduced various monetization options for Reels, including badges, branded content partnerships, and the ability to sell products directly from Reels.

With their emphasis on creativity, entertainment, and discoverability, Instagram Reels have quickly become a popular way for individuals, influencers, and businesses to connect with their audience and showcase their personalities or products in a fun and engaging manner.

Why Pause Instagram Reels?

There are several reasons why users may want to pause Instagram Reels. One common reason is to read comments or captions more carefully. The fast-paced nature of Reels can make it challenging to fully absorb all the information presented, especially if there are lengthy captions or comments worth reading.

Another reason to pause Reels is to take a closer look at specific frames or details within the video. Whether it’s an interesting background, a product being showcased, or a reaction from the creator, pausing allows viewers to examine these elements more thoroughly.

Additionally, users may want to pause Reels to share a specific moment or frame with others. By pausing at the perfect time, they can capture a screenshot or recording to send to friends or share on other platforms.

In some cases, pausing Reels can also be useful for educational or instructional purposes. If a Reel is demonstrating a technique, recipe, or tutorial, viewers may want to pause at certain steps to ensure they understand the process before continuing.

Overall, the ability to pause Instagram Reels provides users with more control over their viewing experience, allowing them to fully engage with the content at their own pace and according to their specific needs.

How to Pause Reels on Mobile

Pausing Instagram Reels on your mobile device is easy once you know the trick. Since Instagram removed the tap-to-pause feature, the only way to pause is by using the tap-and-hold method.

Here’s how to pause an Instagram Reel on your smartphone or tablet:

  1. Open the Instagram app and find the Reel you want to pause.
  2. Once the Reel starts playing, tap and hold your finger down on the screen.
  3. The Reel will pause as long as you keep your finger held down.
  4. To resume playback, simply remove your finger from the screen.

The tap-and-hold method allows you to pause a Reel temporarily. As soon as you release your finger, the Reel will start playing again from where you paused it. This works for both photo and video Instagram Reels.

So in summary – hold your finger down to pause, and release to resume playback. It takes a bit of getting used to compared to the old tap method, but it’s currently the only way to pause Reels on your mobile device.

How to Pause Instagram Reels on Desktop

Pausing Instagram Reels on a desktop or laptop is a straightforward process. To pause a Reel while viewing it on a desktop, simply click the center of the video viewing area. This will cause the Reel to pause immediately.

To resume playback after pausing, click the center of the viewing area again. The Reel will start playing from where you paused it.

Here’s a quick visual guide:

  1. Open Instagram on your desktop browser and navigate to the Reel you want to pause.
  2. As the Reel plays, click the center of the video viewing area with your mouse cursor.
  3. The Reel will pause, and you can view it as a still image.
  4. To resume playback, click the center of the viewing area again.

It’s as simple as that! No need to hunt for a separate pause button or icon. Just click the viewing area itself to pause and unpause Instagram Reels on your desktop or laptop computer.

The Removed Tap-to-Pause Feature

Instagram has removed the ability to pause Reels simply by tapping the screen. In a recent update, the company eliminated this convenient feature, forcing Reels into an autoplay mode similar to TikTok videos.

This change aligns Instagram Reels more closely with the TikTok experience, where videos play continuously without the option to pause by tapping. The forced autoplay is likely an effort to keep users engaged and watching more content, as pausing requires an extra step.

While some users may appreciate the uninterrupted viewing experience, others miss the ability to quickly pause a Reel with a simple tap. The new method of pausing by holding down on the screen can feel less intuitive and may disrupt the viewing flow.

Instagram’s decision to remove tap-to-pause highlights the company’s focus on creating a more immersive and addictive video experience, even if it means sacrificing certain user conveniences. As the battle for short-form video dominance continues, Instagram appears to be taking cues from TikTok’s successful formula.

Workarounds for Pausing Without Holding

While holding your finger on the screen is the primary way to pause Instagram Reels, there are a couple workarounds that allow you to pause without having to hold the display.

Picture-in-Picture Mode on iOS/iPadOS

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you can take advantage of the picture-in-picture mode to watch Instagram Reels in a floating window. This allows you to pause the video simply by tapping outside the floating window. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Instagram app and start watching a Reel.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go to the home screen. The Reel will now be playing in a small floating window.
  3. Tap outside the floating window to pause the Reel.
  4. Tap the floating window again to resume playback.

Third-Party Instagram Clients

There are some third-party Instagram client apps that provide additional features like the ability to pause Reels without holding the screen. These apps essentially act as an alternative front-end for accessing Instagram.

One popular option is Rhino for Instagram, which includes a dedicated pause button when viewing Reels. Other apps like OGInsta and InstaPlus may also have similar pause functionality.

Why Can’t I Mute Reels?

One common question people ask is “Why can’t I mute Instagram Reels?” The answer is that you actually can mute Reels, but the process is now separate from pausing the video.

Previously, tapping the screen on a Reel would both pause and mute the audio. However, Instagram has since split these functions into two separate controls. Now, there is a dedicated mute button that appears when you tap on a Reel.

The mute button is a small speaker icon displayed in the bottom left corner of the Reel. Tapping it will toggle the audio on and off without affecting the video playback. This allows you to keep watching the Reel in motion while silencing the sound if desired.

So while the old tap-to-pause shortcut no longer mutes audio, Instagram has made it more intuitive by adding a distinct mute control right on the viewing screen. Just look for the speaker icon and tap it to shut off or restore the Reel’s sound separately from pausing the video itself.

Will Instagram Bring Back Tap-to-Pause?

It’s unclear if Instagram will revert the change that removed the ability to pause Reels by tapping the screen. The forced autoplay behavior was implemented to make Reels more similar to TikTok’s seamless endless feed experience. However, many users have complained about losing the convenient tap-to-pause functionality.

Instagram may be monitoring user feedback closely. If there is significant backlash against the removal of pause-on-tap, they could choose to reintroduce it as an option. Having the ability to temporarily pause a Reel without holding down can be helpful for reading text, closely examining visuals, or pausing when interrupted.

On the other hand, Instagram is likely aiming for maximum watch-time and engagement with the Reels product to compete with TikTok. Autoplay and avoiding interruptions could be a deliberate strategy to keep users immersed. Reinstating pause-on-tap may go against their goals of driving longer Reels viewings.

Ultimately, whether tap-to-pause returns may depend on how heavily user complaints about its removal weigh against Instagram’s objectives with the Reels format. Users who desperately want the old functionality back can try submitting feedback directly to Instagram or using workarounds like third-party Instagram clients in the meantime.


Instagram’s decision to remove the tap-to-pause feature for Reels has left many users frustrated, as it’s no longer as easy to pause and examine a moment. However, there are still methods to pause Reels, both on mobile and desktop.

On mobile devices, you can pause a Reel by tapping and holding on the screen. As long as you keep your finger pressed down, the Reel will remain paused. Release your finger, and playback will resume.

For desktop users, the process is even simpler – just click on the center of the Reel’s viewing area to pause it, and click again to unpause.

If these default pause methods don’t appeal to you, there are also some workarounds to explore. iOS and iPadOS users can take advantage of picture-in-picture mode, which allows you to pause Reels more easily. Alternatively, third-party Instagram clients may offer more robust pause and playback controls.

While the removed tap-to-pause feature is certainly an annoyance for many, Instagram’s focus on a more TikTok-like autoplay experience means users will have to adapt to new pause methods or explore alternative solutions. With some practice, pausing Reels can still be achieved, even if it requires an extra tap or hold.

More Tips for Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels have quickly become a popular way to create and share short, engaging video content. Here are some additional tips to help you make the most of this feature:

Creating Reels

  • Use Instagram’s built-in video editing tools to trim, add filters, and adjust the speed of your clips.
  • Experiment with different transitions and effects to make your Reels more dynamic and visually appealing.
  • Take advantage of Instagram’s music library or use your own audio to add a soundtrack to your Reels.
  • Incorporate text overlays, stickers, and other creative elements to enhance your storytelling.

Editing Reels

  • Once you’ve recorded or uploaded your video, you can make further edits before publishing.
  • Adjust the cover image to make your Reel more enticing in the feed.
  • Add captions or subtitles to make your content more accessible.
  • Trim or rearrange clips to fine-tune the pacing and flow of your Reel.

Insights and Analytics

  • Check your Reels insights to see how many views, likes, comments, and shares your content is receiving.
  • Analyze which Reels perform best and look for patterns in terms of content, length, or posting times.
  • Use this data to inform your future Reels strategy and create more engaging content for your audience.

Promoting Reels

  • Share your Reels on your Instagram feed and Stories to increase visibility.
  • Collaborate with other creators or brands to reach new audiences.
  • Use relevant hashtags and location tags to make your Reels more discoverable.
  • Encourage your followers to engage with your Reels by liking, commenting, and sharing.

By incorporating these tips into your Instagram Reels strategy, you can create more compelling content, connect with your audience, and potentially gain more followers and engagement on the platform.

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