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iMessage For iPhone & iPad (New 2019 Guide)

iMessage on an iPhone

I have had a great many people get in touch with me with iMessage errors on their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch so I decided to put together a definitive guide.

I cover everything you might need to know about iMessage including the stuff Apple skims over.

I also wrote about how to troubleshoot and fix iMessage errors.

Hopefully, this article will help answer your question, or resolve your iMessage problem. If not, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll expand this guide to make it as useful as possible.

What is iMessage?

iMessage is a free service from Apple that enables users of iOS-powered devices to send text messages over Wi-Fi from mobile devices like the iPhone and iPod touch.

So iMessage is Apple’s version of the traditional text, SMS and MMS message system that is used on non-Apple cell phones.

iMessage offers more advanced features such as a typing indicator and delivery / read confirmations.

Unlike traditional text messages, iMessages don’t have a limited length. You can also send high-quality images and video. You should try to keep video’s under 3 and a half minutes long as sending longer ones will result in a sending error.

iMessage can also be used to send group messages to multiple people.

It can even be used to send your current location or show your location for a period of time.

How Does iMessage work?

iMessage For iPhone & iPadiMessages are sent from the Messages App on the iPhone. You don’t need to do anything different to send an iMessage than you would do to send a traditional message.

You can tell if you have sent an iMessage or a traditional text message on an iPhone by looking at the bubble colour. Traditional messages have a green bubble, and iMessages have a blue bubble.

iMessages can only be sent between Apple devices such as iPhone and iPad.

They don’t work when sending to non-Apple devices such as Android cellphones. Instead the iPhone will automatically convert the iMessage to a traditional text message and send it.

This means that you don’t need to know if the recipient has an iPhone and chose the type of message to send as your device will automatically send the message in the appropriate format.

iMessage was introduced in iOS 5 and it brought the ability to send messages to the iPad, iPod Touch and Apple laptops and desktop computers.

This means you can send and receive iMessages from almost any Apple device as long as you sign in to your iCloud account.

Is iMessage Online?

One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘can you check iMessage online?’

Imagine if your iPhone or iPad breaks then you can no longer access old iMessages or see any new iMessages sent to you.

Alternatively, you may be away from home and want to check iMessages from elsewhere so a brilliant option would be to be able to check iMessage online.

The bad news is Apple doesn’t offer this service at the moment.

I think it would be a good idea for Apple to add this feature to the online iCloud account that is automatically set up when you initially configure your iPhone or iPad. That way you could check iMessage online via www.icloud.com.

If you think this would be a great feature to add then head over to http://www.apple.com/feedback/icloud.html and let them know.

The more people that request this feature the more likely that Apple will add it in future.

Is iMessage Free?

You can send an unlimited number of messages via iMessage for free.

They are free regardless if you send the message locally, nationally, or internationally.

They are not included in calling plans under the traditional text message limit. This does not mean they have no cost as sending them will eat into your data limit.

To prevent unexpected fees then ensure you always send messages as iMessages rather than SMS text messages. You can do this in Settings -> Messages and turn “Send as SMS” off.

You also want to make sure you connect your device to WiFi rather than using the cellular phone network to prevent iMessages using up your data limit and potentially building up a large bill.

How to send an iMessage on iPhone or iPad

If you’ve ever sent an SMS message, you already know how to send an iMessage. If you’re brand new to the iPhone or iPad, here’s how it’s done:

  • Launch the Messages app on your iPhone.
  • Tap on the Compose button in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Type the name of the contact to whom you’d like to send a message
  • Tap the contact to whom you’d like to send a message.
  • Type your message in the message field.
  • Tap Send.

How to send a new photo or video using iMessage on iPhone or iPad

Sending instant selfies is increasingly the thing to do, and iMessage lets you do just that. Whether still or video, all you have to do is touch and send!

  • Launch the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap on the conversation in which you’d like to send a photo.
  • Tap on the photo button in the lower lefthand corner.
  • Tap Take Photo or Video to snap a photo or shoot a video on the spot.
  • Tap Use Photo or Use Video on the bottom right of the screen, once you have taken your photo or video. Tap Retake if you need a re-do.
  • Tap Send.

How to send an existing photo or video using iMessage on iPhone or iPad

If you’ve already taken a great photo or video that you want to share, you can do that too.

  • Launch the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap on the conversation in which you’d like to send a photo.
  • Tap on the photo button in the lower lefthand corner.
  • Tap Photo Library.
  • Choose a category from which to send a photo or video.
  • Tap the image or video you’d like to send.
  • Tap Choose.
  • Tap Send.

How to send your current location using iMessage for iPhone and iPad

If you don’t want to constantly share your location but do want to send someone your current location, it’s easy to do.

  • Launch the Messages app.
  • Tap on the conversation in which you’d like to send your location.
  • Tap on Details in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Tap on Send My Current Location.

The person on the other end can then tap on the location in order to view it and even get directions.

How to share your location for a period of time using iMessage for iPhone and iPad

Apple has tied iMessage into Find Your Friends, so if you want to share your location for an hour, the rest of the day, or the rest of time, that’s also an option.

  • Launch the Messages app.
  • Tap on the conversation in which you’d like to share your location. It can be an individual person or with a group, as long as everyone in it is using iMessage.
  • Tap on Details in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Tap on Share My Location.
  • Choose the duration for which you’d like to share your location.

How To disable iMessage on iPhone or iPad

This disables the iMessage service entirely in iOS. On an iPhone that will force the device to fall back to traditional SMS and MMS messaging services. On the iPad and iPod touch, this will turn off all messaging functions on the device entirely, since there is no traditional texting to fall back on.

  1. Open the “Settings” app in iOS
  2. Choose the “Messages” option
  3. Toggle the topmost switch for “iMessage” to the OFF position

To be perfectly clear, if you disable iMessage you will no longer receive any type of iMessages, though you will continue to receive traditional text messages (SMS and MMS).

This means that a user who is trying to text message you from an iPhone or another smartphone will still succeed in reaching you, but a user who tries to iMessage you from an iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, will not fail, since those devices do not have the cellular capability of falling back onto the SMS protocol.

Doing so will also turn off the “Read” and “Delivered” Receipts completely because SMS texting doesn’t offer the same ability.

Note that turning off the iMessaging service will not delete any current message threads, that must be done manually if it’s needed.

Once you’ve turned off the service, all future Message threads will use green text bubbles and the text input box will say ‘Text Message’ to indicate they are going through the SMS protocol.

If you continue to see blue text bubbles with the ‘iMessage’ block within the input box for new messages, you probably didn’t turn off the service.

iMessage not sending on iPhone or iPad?

Why is iMessage not working?

Diagnose Your Problem With iMessage

The first thing you need to figure out with an iMessage Error is if the problem occurs for just one contact or for everyone.

If the issue is with a single contact then the problem is more likely with the receiving iPhone rather than yours. If the issue is with everyone in your contact list then the problem is with your iPhone.

The first thing you need to do is to send a test message to another iMessage user.

If the message bubble is green then iMessage isn’t working and the message has been sent as a standard text. If the bubble is blue then iMessage is working properly.

So assuming your iPhone has a green bubble instead of a blue one then you need to follow the troubleshooting guide below.

How To Fix iMessage On Your iPhone or iPad

Try these fixes in order until your problem has been fixed.

1. Turn iMessage Off, Reboot, And Then Back On Again

  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Messages
  • Tap the button next to iMessage to turn iMessage off on your iPhone or iPad
  • Hold the power button down until you see ‘Slide to Power Off’
  • Slide your finger across the bar to turn off your iPhone or iPad
  • Turn your iPhone back on
  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Messages
  • Tap the button next to iMessage

Often this simple process resets the issue and gets iMessage working again.

2. Make Sure iMessage Is Set Up Properly

On occasion, your device may not be configured to actually use iMessage.

  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Messages
  • Scroll down to where it says ‘Send & Receive’ and tap it
  • Look under the section titled ‘Start New Conversations From’, and if there isn’t a tick next to your phone number, tap on your phone number to activate iMessage for your number

3. Check Your Internet Connection

iMessage only works with a Wi-Fi or 3G or 4G data connection so if your iPhone or iPad is not connected to the internet iMessage won’t work. Instead iMessage will fall back to sending a standard SMS text message.

  • Open up Safari
  • Go to any website and check it loads
  • If the website doesn’t load or Safari says you’re not connected to the internet then iMessages won’t work until you are connected.

If the internet isn’t working on your iPhone, you might be connected to a Wi-Fi network that has a poor internet connection. Try turning off Wi-Fi and resending your iMessage. If that works, the problem was with Wi-Fi, not with iMessage.

4. Sign Out Of iMessage and Sign Back In

You may need to reset your iMessage account on your device by signing out and back in again.

  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Messages
  • Scroll down to where it says ‘Send & Receive’ and tap it
  • Tap where it says ‘Apple ID:’ and choose ‘Sign Out’
  • Sign back in using your Apple ID
  • Try sending a test iMessage

5. Check for iOS Updates

Apple regularly creates updates to address iMessage issues with phone carriers and networks. Updating your device to the latest version of the iOS software insures you have the latest fixes.

  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap General
  • Scroll down to where it says ‘Software Update’ and tap it
  • If there is an update waiting to be installed, install it

6. Reset Network Settings

Issues with network connectivity can also cause problems with iMessage, and restoring your iPhone’s network settings back to factory defaults can resolve stubborn iMessage errors.

Before you do this, make sure you know your Wi-Fi passwords, because this process will erase all of the saved Wi-Fi networks on your iPhone. After your iPhone reboots, you’ll have to re-enter all your Wi-Fi passwords.

  • On your iPhone tap Settings
  • Scroll down and tap General
  • Scroll down to where it says ‘Reset’ and tap it
  • Tap ‘Reset Network Settings’ to reset everything

7. iMessage Still Not Working?

You need to talk to Apple. Make an appointment at the genius bar in your closest Apple Store or give them a call.

Did you find this article helpful?

If you found this article helpful please take a moment to tweet, like, or share this article by using the buttons at the top of this page. I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

Also, if you are feeling extra generous after having your issue solved please leave some encouraging feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I love getting feedback from visitors. It encourages me to find further solutions to those awkward little iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac problems that we all suffer from.

Thanks for taking the time to read my website and I hope to help you again soon!

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