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iOS: Troubleshooting Messages

Symptoms

Learn how to resolve issues with the Messages app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. You'll learn what you need to send messages using SMS, MMS, and iMessage as well as how to resolve issues with each method.

Resolution

Before you start troubleshooting, learn the difference between SMS, MMS, and iMessage. The first step to resolving an issue with iMessage is to update your iOS software and your carrier settings to the latest versions. If iMessage still has an issue, follow the steps below for your issue.

If you can't activate iMessage with your phone number or Apple ID

See how to troubleshoot iMessage activation. If you're using a China Telecom or au (KDDI) iPhone, you can activate iMessage only on your home network. While traveling internationally, you can't activate iMessage.

If you can't send and receive iMessages

You will need these to send and receive iMessages:

  • An iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  • iOS 5.0 or later
  • A cellular data connection or a Wi-Fi connection
  • A phone number or Apple ID registered with iMessage in Settings > Messages

To resolve issues with sending and receiving iMessages, follow these steps

  1. Check iMessage system status for current service issues.
  2. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and make sure that you registered iMessage with your phone number or Apple ID and that you selected iMessage for use. If the phone number or Apple ID isn't available for use, troubleshoot iMessage registration.
  3. Open Safari and navigate to www.apple.com to verify data connectivity. If a data connection isn't available, troubleshoot cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection.
  4. iMessage over cellular data might not be available while you're on a call. Only 3G and faster GSM networks support simultaneous data and voice calls. Learn which network your phone supports. If your network doesn't support simultaneous data and voice calls, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and turn Wi-Fi on to use iMessage while you're on a call.
  5. Restart your device.
  6. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings on your iPhone.

If you still can't send or receive an iMessage, follow these steps

  1. Make sure that the contact trying to message you isn't blocked in Settings > Messages > Blocked.
  2. Make sure that the contact you're trying to send a message to is registered with iMessage.
  3. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, back up or forward important messages and delete your current messaging threads with the contact. Create a new message to the contact and try again.
  4. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, delete and recreate the contact in the Contacts app. Create a new message to the newly created contact and try again.
  5. Back up and restore your device as new.

If you aren't receiving iMessages across all iOS devices

  1. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive on each iOS device and make sure that you signed in with your Apple ID. You must use the same Apple ID on each device.
  2. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive > You Can Be Reached By iMessage At and make sure that you selected each phone number and email address you want to use with iMessage.
  3. If you linked a phone number to your Apple ID with iMessage and the phone number hasn't appeared, follow these steps.
  4. Sign out of your Apple ID in Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and Settings > FaceTime on all devices.
  5. If you're linking a phone number to an Apple ID, sign in to iMessage on your iPhone first. Then sign in to the rest of your device one by one with iMessage and FaceTime.

If your iMessages didn't transmit as SMS when iMessage was unavailable for use

  1. Go to Settings > Messages > Send as SMS and turn on Send as SMS.
  2. Select your phone number when Sending iMessages in Settings > Messages > Send & Receive > Start New Conversations From.
  3. Make sure that you can send SMS with Settings > iMessage turned off.

If you want to transfer your SIM card or phone number to a device that doesn't support iMessage

Go to Settings > Messages and turn off iMessage if you plan to transfer your SIM card or phone number from an iPhone to a device that doesn't support iMessage. If you don't, other iOS devices might continue to try to send you messages using iMessage, instead of using SMS or MMS, for up to 45 days.

If you can't send and receive SMS

You will need these to send and receive SMS:

  • An iPhone
  • A strong cellular network connection through a cellular network provider
  • A domestic SMS plan from your cellular provider (You might need an international messaging plan to send SMS to an international contact. Contact your carrier for more information)
  • A roaming SMS plan when you use a cellular provider's network that is different from your billing cellular provider's network (Learn more about roaming and contact your carrier for more information.)

To resolve issues sending and receiving SMS, follow these steps

  1. Go to Settings and turn airplane mode off.
  2. Make sure that you have a cellular network signal in the status bar of your iPhone. If there's no signal, learn more about troubleshooting no service.
  3. Restart your iPhone.
  4. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings on your iPhone.
  5. Remove your SIM card and insert it again.

If you still can't send or receive SMS, follow these steps

  1. Make sure that the contact who's trying to message you isn't blocked in Settings > Messages > Blocked.
  2. Make sure that you're using the area code with the contact's phone number. When sending messages internationally, you also need to use the contact's international code.
  3. If you're using a "Pay as you go" SMS plan, make sure it has enough available balance. Contact your carrier if you're unsure of your SMS plan or the available balance.
  4. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, back up or forward important messages and delete your current messaging threads with the contact. Create a new message to the contact and try again.
  5. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, delete and recreate the contact from the Contacts app. Send a new message to the contact.
  6. Back up and restore your iPhone as new.
  7. If your carrier has recently ported your phone number, the porting process might not be complete. Contact your carrier to confirm that the porting process is complete.
  8. Contact your carrier to confirm that you're provisioned for sending SMS and are in an area with cellular coverage.
  9. Contact your carrier to verify there are no blocks or filters placed on your wireless account preventing you from sending SMS.

If you can't send and receive MMS

You will need these to send and receive MMS:

  • An iPhone 3G or later
  • iOS 3.1 or later
  • A cellular data connection (MMS isn't available if you're using only Wi-Fi)
  • A domestic MMS plan from your cellular provider. You might need an international messaging plan to send MMS to an international contact (Contact your carrier for more information.)
  • A roaming MMS when using a cellular provider's network that is different from your billing cellular provider's network (Learn more about roaming and contact your carrier for more information.)

To resolve issues with sending and receiving MMS, follow these steps

  1. Go to Settings and turn airplane mode off.
  2. Go to Settings > Messages and turn MMS Messaging on.
  3. Go to Settings > Cellular and turn Cellular Data on.
  4. Go to Settings > Cellular and turn Data Roaming on if you're roaming on a cellular provider network that is different from your billing provider's network.
  5. Make sure that you have a cellular data connection in the status bar of your iPhone.
  6. Go to Settings and turn Wi-Fi off. Open Safari and navigate to www.apple.com to verify that you have a data connection. Turn Wi-Fi back on to continue using Wi-Fi for other features. If your cellular data connection isn't available, follow these steps.
  7. Make sure that you can send and receive SMS. If you can't send and receive SMS, see the "Issues with sending and receiving SMS" section, above. MMS might not be available while you're on a call. Only 3G and faster GSM networks support simultaneous data and voice calls. Learn more about which network your phone supports.
  8. Restart your iPhone.
  9. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings on your iPhone.
  10. Remove your SIM card and insert it again.

If you still can't send or receive MMS, follow these steps

  1. Make sure that the contact trying to message you isn't blocked in Settings > Messages > Blocked.
  2. Go to Settings > Messages and turn on group messaging if you're sending a group message.
  3. Make sure that you're using the area code with the contact's phone number. When you send messages internationally, you also need the contact's international code.
  4. If you're using a "Pay as you go" MMS plan, make sure it has enough available balance. If you're unsure of your MMS plan or available balance, contact your carrier.
  5. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, back up or forward important messages and delete your current messaging threads with the contact. Create a new message to the contact and try again.
  6. If the issue occurs with a specific contact or contacts, delete and recreate the contact from the Contacts app. Send a new message to the new contact.
  7. Back up and restore your iPhone as new.
  8. If your carrier has recently ported your phone number, the porting process might not be complete. Contact your carrier to confirm that the porting process is complete.
  9. Contact your carrier to verify that you're provisioned to send SMS and are in an area with cellular coverage.
  10. Contact your carrier to verify that there aren't blocks or filters on your wireless account preventing you from sending SMS.
  11. Your carrier might require modified APN settings to use MMS.

Further troubleshooting and information

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Last Modified: Mar 10, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Mar 10, 2014
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