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iOS: Using Messages

Learn how to use Messages. 

Messages lets you exchange text messages with other SMS/MMS devices using your cellular connection, and with other iOS devices using iMessage.

iMessage is an Apple service that lets you send unlimited messages over an active Wi-Fi (or cellular data*) connection to other iOS devices using iOS 5 or later or Macs using OS X Mountain Lion or later. With iMessage you can see when other people are typing and let them know when you've read their messages. iMessages are displayed on all your iOS devices logged in to the same account, so you can start a conversation on one of your devices, and continue it on another device. For security, iMessages are encrypted before they're sent

Which Apple products support Messages using SMS and MMS?

To use Messages with SMS and MMS, you need an iPhone.

Which Apple products support Messages using iMessage?

To use Messages with iMessage, you need one of the following Apple products:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPad Mini
  • iPod touch
  • Mac with Mac OS X v10.8.x

You need a valid Apple ID to use iMessage on iPad, iPod touch, and Messages for Mac. You need a valid phone number or Apple ID to use iMessage on iPhone.

How do I enable SMS/MMS for use with Messages?

SMS and MMS messaging requires an appropriate plan from your carrier for use on iPhone. Contact your carrier for more information.

How do I enable iMessage for use with Messages?

You can enable iMessage in multiple ways, depending on your device:

iPhone: Turn Messages on in Settings > Messages. Messages will begin registration with your carrier-assigned cellular telephone number. Sign in with your Apple ID to also use your e-mail with Messages.

iPad and iPod touch: Navigate to Settings > Messages. Sign in with your Apple ID.

Follow these steps if you are experiencing difficulty activating your telephone number or Apple ID with iMessage.

What information do I need to message someone using SMS/MMS?

With your iPhone, the Messages app can send SMS/MMS to other iPhone devices and non-Apple devices that support SMS/MMS using a carrier-assigned telephone number.

What information do I need to message someone using iMessage?

To message someone using iMessage, you need to know the phone number or email address that your contact registered with iMessage on their device.

How do I send an SMS, MMS, or iMessage?

You can send an SMS or MMS—from your iPhone only—or an iMessage from your iOS device in multiple ways.

  • Messages: Tap the New Message icon, in the top right corner, to create a new message. Choose the contact you wish to send to by entering their telephone number or tapping the plus symbol.
  • Contacts: Tap the contact you wish to send a message to and scroll to the bottom. Tap Send Message.
  • Contacts: Tap the chat bubble next to the telephone number or email you wish to iMessage. Emails with a chat bubble next to them are iMessage capable.

If you experience an issue with iMessage, SMS, or MMS messaging (either sending or receiving), follow these steps.

How do I know if I am sending an SMS, MMS, or iMessage?

The type of message you are sending is noted by the color of the send button and text bubble.

  • A text message sent as SMS or MMS will show the word "Send" in green when typing and have a green text bubble.
  • A text message sent as iMessage will show the word "Send" in blue when typing and have a blue text bubble.

Some carriers may automatically convert long SMS messages (ones that would require multiple SMS messages to send) into MMS format.

On iPhone, if iMessage is unavailable, the message may be sent as SMS or MMS, depending on the content. Carrier messaging rates may apply. You can adjust this behavior on your iPhone at Settings > Messages > Send As SMS.

Can I send a message to more than one person at a time?

Yes, you can send group messages.

How do I insert a photo or video into my message?

You can send a photo or video from your iOS device from these apps.

  • Messages: Tap the camera icon next to the Text Message field of your current Messaging thread.
  • Photos: Choose a photo and tap the Sharing icon in the bottom left hand corner. Choose the Messages app from the sharing window.

How do I forward a message?

You can forward a message by choosing More… after tapping and holding a message bubble in your current Messages conversation. Selected messages that will be forwarded show a checkmark to the left. Tap the forward button, in the bottom right corner, and enter the desired contact.

How do I delete a Message?

You can delete a message by choosing More… after tapping and holding a message bubble in your current Messages conversation. Selected messages that will be deleted show a checkmark to the left. Tap the trash, in the bottom left corner, and choose Delete Message.

How do I delete an entire Message conversation?

You can delete a Messages conversation by sliding from right to left when viewing your list of current conversations or by tapping Edit and choosing the delete button to the left of the conversation.

How do I block messages I do not wish to receive?

With iOS 7, you can block messages.

How do I report messages spam that I'm getting?

How can I use my iPhone telephone number with iMessage on my iPad, iPod touch, or Messages for Mac?

You can link your iPhone telephone number to your Apple ID for use on your iPad, iPod touch, or Messages for Mac by signing into iMessage with your Apple ID in Settings > Messages. Then sign in to the other device with the same Apple ID in these locations:

  • iPad and iPod touch: sign in to iMessage in Settings > Messages.
  • Messages for Mac: sign in to iMessage in Messages > Preferences > Accounts.

Linking your iPhone telephone number with iMessage is not available for the iPad (1st generation) and iPod touch (3rd generation).

Follow these steps for more information or if you are experiencing difficulties linking your iPhone telephone number to your Apple ID.

If an unknown device registers with your Apple ID and you did not initiate that registration, you can reset your Apple ID password to remove it. You will then need to enter this new password on all devices using iMessage or FaceTime.

How do I deactivate iMessage with my Apple ID?

Sign out of iMessage to deactivate your Apple ID with iMessage on your respective devices in these locations.

  • iPhone, iPad, iPod touch: Settings > Messages.
  • Messages for Mac: Sign in to iMessage in Messages > Preferences > Accounts.

Additional Information

You can change the address that new iMessage conversations are started with in Settings > Messages > Send & Receive > Start new conversations from. Note that this setting applies only to new conversations. If you would like to change the address from which messages are sent, first change this setting, and then delete the existing conversation and start a new one.

iMessage responses will be sent from the address the recipient most recently messaged. For example, a friend sends you a message to your Apple ID. Responses in this conversation will be sent from your Apple ID, even if you've selected new conversations to start from your phone number.

* Cellular data connectivity requires iPhone or iPad (Cellular Models).

Last Modified: Dec 10, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Dec 10, 2013
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