Gateway Intents

Gateway Intents were introduced by Discord so bot developers can choose which events their bot receives based on which data it needs to function. Intents are named groups of pre-defined WebSocket events, which the discord.js client will receive. If you omit DirectMessageTyping, for example, you will no longer receive typing events from direct messages. If you do not specify intents, discord.js will throw an error.

Rather than blindly enabling all intents, consider what information you actually need. Reducing the number of unnecessary events your bot receives improves performance and reduces bandwidth and memory usage.

Privileged Intents

Discord defines some intents as "privileged" due to the data's sensitive nature. At the time of writing this article, privileged intents are GuildPresences, MessageContent and GuildMembers. If your bot is not verified and in less than 100 guilds, you can enable privileged gateway intents in the Discord Developer Portalopen in new window under "Privileged Gateway Intents" in the "Bot" section. If your bot is already verified or is about to require verificationopen in new window, you need to request privileged intents. You can do this in your verification application or by reaching out to Discord's support teamopen in new window, including why you require access to each privileged intent.

Before storming off and doing so, you should stop and carefully think about if you need these events. Discord made them opt-in so users across the platform can enjoy a higher level of privacyopen in new window. Presences can expose quite a bit of personal information, including the games being played and overall online time. You might find that it isn't necessary for your bot to have this level of information about all guild members at all times, considering you still get the command author as GuildMember from the command execution message and can fetch other targets separately.

Error: Disallowed Intents

Should you receive an error prefixed with [DISALLOWED_INTENTS], please review your developer dashboard settings for all privileged intents you use. Check on the Discord API documentationopen in new window for up to date information.

Enabling Intents

To specify which events you want your bot to receive, first think about which events your bot needs to operate. Then select the required intents and add them to your client constructor, as shown below.

All gateway intents, and the events belonging to each, are listed on the Discord API documentationopen in new window.

  • If you need your bot to receive messages (MESSAGE_CREATE - "messageCreate" in discord.js), you need the Guilds and GuildMessages intent, plus the MessageContent privileged intent to receive the content, attachments, embeds and components fields of the message.
  • If you want your bot to post welcome messages for new members (GUILD_MEMBER_ADD - "guildMemberAdd" in discord.js), you need the GuildMembers privileged intent, and so on.
const { Client, GatewayIntentBits } = require('discord.js');

const client = new Client({
	intents: [
		GatewayIntentBits.Guilds,
		GatewayIntentBits.GuildMessages,
		GatewayIntentBits.MessageContent,
		GatewayIntentBits.GuildMembers,
	],
});
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

WARNING

Note that discord.js relies heavily on caching to provide its functionality - this means an internal reliance on certain events to ensure the caches are populated and up to date.

Some methods that seem unrelated might stop working if certain events do not arrive. For example:

  • The Guilds intent populates and maintains the guilds, channels and guild.roles caches, plus thread-related events.
    If this intent is not enabled, data for interactions and messages will include only the guild and channel id, and will not resolve to the full class.
  • The GuildMembers intent keeps cached guild members up to date, including changes to their roles and permissions, nickname etc.
    Note that you still receive full member data with interactions and messages without this intent enabled.

Please make sure to provide the list of gateway intents and partials you use in your Client constructor when asking for support on our Discord serveropen in new window or GitHub repositoryopen in new window.

The Intents Bitfield

discord.js provides the utility structure IntentsBitFieldopen in new window to simplify the modification of intents bitfields.

You can use the .add() and .remove() methods to add or remove flags (Intents string literals representing a certain bit) and modify the bitfield. You can provide single flags as well as an array or bitfield. To use a set of intents as a template you can pass it to the constructor. Note that the empty constructor new IntentsBitField() creates an empty Intents instance, representing no intents or the bitfield 0:

const { Client, IntentsBitField } = require('discord.js');

const myIntents = new IntentsBitField();
myIntents.add(IntentsBitField.Flags.GuildPresences, IntentsBitField.Flags.GuildMembers);

const client = new Client({ intents: myIntents });

// other examples:
const otherIntents = new IntentsBitField([IntentsBitField.Flags.Guilds, IntentsBitField.Flags.DirectMessages]);
otherIntents.remove([IntentsBitField.Flags.DirectMessages]);
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

If you want to view the built flags you can utilize the .toArray(), .serialize() methods. The first returns an array of flags represented in this bitfield, the second an object mapping all possible flag values to a boolean, based on their representation in this bitfield.

More on Bitfields

Discord Intents and Permissions are stored in a 53-bit integer and calculated using bitwise operations. If you want to dive deeper into what's happening behind the curtains, check the Wikipediaopen in new window and MDNopen in new window articles on the topic.

In discord.js, Permissions and Intents bitfields are represented as either the decimal value of said bit field or its referenced flags. Every position in a permissions bitfield represents one of these flags and its state (either referenced 1 or not referenced 0).