How to Use iMessage on the iPhone

How to Use iMessage on the iPhone 38

Learn how to use  iMessage on the iPhone, one of the great new features added by iOS 5.  For anyone unfamiliar with iMessage, it is essentially a free version of texting and is very similar to the Blackberry Messenger service.  Using iMessage is identical to texting and does not cost anything (beyond the minimal amount of data used).

Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about people being able to see your iMessages (including photos!) while in public places, consider checking out 2-way privacy screen protectors as a way to make it more difficult to see what you’re doing on your iPhone.

You Will Need:

  • iPhone with iOS 5.0 or later
  • Internet connection (WiFi or carrier data connection)


1. Turn on iMessage for the iPhone by entering the Settings app.

2. Next select “Messages” (scroll down to locate) and turn the iMessage switch to “On” in order to enable iMessage. If you wish to enable read receipts, you can also do that in this screen.

3. To send a message with iMessage, simply text any friend with an enabled iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and the iPhone will automatically use iMessage to deliver your text. If the recipient is not using an iMessage enabled device, a standard SMS/MMS message will be sent.

Remember that you can send pictures and video using iMessage, just as you would a normal text message. 

38 thoughts on “How to Use iMessage on the iPhone

  1. Reply Carole Feb 18,2015 2:55 pm

    So I’m assuming you can only send an imessage to and iphone/ipad that sort, you
    cannot send an imessage with pics to a (ex) yahoo email address?

    • Reply Dan Feb 26,2015 8:37 am

      Hi Carole,

      You are correct. iMessages are only sent between Apple devices (including Macs now). Of course iPhones can send SMS texts to non-Apple phones (Android, etc.) but not to just someone’s email. Email would be your best bet in that scenario.


  2. Reply Caitie Jan 3,2015 9:30 pm

    I recently got an I pad and wanted to set up an I message and when I did I could not text some friends and some had I message accounts and some didn’t but it didn’t let me then I asked my friend and she told me to turn off I message and I did and I did not fix anything so then I put every back normal and tried to text that same friend and it was not capable to deliver but I was capable of texting my other friends and her earlier that day so I am wondering why I can’t text my friends

    • Reply Dan Jan 26,2015 9:15 am

      Hi Caitie,

      The most likely answer is that some of the friends you are trying to message from your iPad do not have an Apples device (iPhone, iPad, etc.). iPads can not send text (SMS) messages and can only send iMessages to other Apple devices. Check to see if the ones who can not receive are using Androids, Windows Phones, etc.


  3. Reply Tracina Nov 22,2014 4:37 pm

    Some how my iMessage switched to regular text messaging how do I switch it back its just on one contact they have 6 plus

    • Reply Dan Feb 26,2015 8:49 am

      Make sure iMessages are turned on (Settings/Messages…top setting). Also, make sure you are trying to send iMessages to an Apple device as these are the only types that can receive them.


  4. Reply Blanch Nov 15,2014 10:44 am

    my imessage is using my email to be “reached”. tried to delete this email but it could not be remove. How will and what will I do to use my own number for imessage?

    • Reply Dan Feb 26,2015 8:50 am

      Hi Blanch,

      Under Settings/Messages/Send & Receive…you can configure where you receive iMessages at (sounds like you may already know this). I think you need to make sure that the phone number you want to use is associated with your Apple account. If you’re on an iPhone, it automatically should be.


  5. Reply Chandler Jul 29,2014 11:42 am

    Hi Dan,
    Every time I turn on my iMessage, pop-up comes up and says to turn on cellular data or connect with wifi. No wifi but my cellular data is ON. What to do?


    • Reply Dan Aug 25,2014 4:09 pm

      Hi Chandler,

      Double check in Settings/Cellular/Cellular Data to make sure Cellular Data is definitely on. Assuming it is and you’re still having this issue, try the old restart and see if that helps.


  6. Reply Diane Jan 25,2013 11:23 am

    I tried turning on my imessage, all it does is wait for activation

    • Reply Dan Jan 31,2013 3:01 pm

      Hi Diane,

      Try going into Settings then go to “General” and scroll down to “Reset”. Now select “Reset Network Settings”. Let me know if this works!


  7. Reply Trever Oct 30,2012 9:13 pm

    Hello. I recently turned off iMessage for two people because the message I was sending to them both wasn’t going through. But now I don’t know how to change it back. My iMessage and theirs are both on, and I tried turning mine on/off but it still sends as a text message. Help?

    • Reply Dan Nov 5,2012 8:15 am

      Hi Trever,

      What do you mean by “turned off iMessage for two people”? Under Settings/Messages…you can either turn iMessage completely on or off but can’t adjust per conversation. As long as that is on and they have an iPhone/iPad with iMessage on, you should be good to go.

      Are you able to send iMessages to other people?


  8. Reply Wellesley Oct 28,2012 8:34 am

    Hey Dan, I was at home using my wifi I didnt see the Text Message change to iMessage. Can u tell me why? And another problem is my iPhone doesnt let me send pictures or videos even through the MMS is on.

    • Reply Dan Nov 5,2012 8:14 am

      Hey Wellesley,

      There’s a few things that can cause a message not to go through as an iMessage. The most common is messaging someone who doesn’t have an iPhone/iPad…iMessage only works with Apple devices. If it is a sporadic thing, there are other causes behind it such as their device is off when you try to send or depending on reception.

      What kind of message do you get when trying to send pics/vids?

  9. Reply Dylan Sep 24,2012 4:57 pm

    so i just bought the iphone 5 and my imessage says im sending messages through my email.. please help.

    • Reply Dan Oct 2,2012 8:33 am

      Hi Dylan,

      Go to into Settings/Messages/Send & Receive and you will see the emails that your iMessage is currently using. Touch the blue arrow next to the one that you want to remove and select “remove this email”.


  10. Reply Gemma Sep 22,2012 6:39 am

    Hi dan, my iMessage has been working fine until the day before yesterday, I have tried all the steps you give above and it is still displaying the same message, I go Into messages in the settings turn iMessage on and it says underneath it waiting for activation, I go to use my apple id screen type in my password and a box comes up saying ‘could not sign in please check your network connection and try again’ I have tried deleted my wifi ad signing back into that I have tried resetting network settings I have tried creating a new apple id nothing works. Also on one of my games it is saying connect to iTunes about push notifications don’t no if the two are connected the game is also not working. I updated my phone on iTunes yesterday in the hope that would fix the problem but still no luck!

    Please help! X

    • Reply Dan Oct 8,2012 7:28 pm

      Hi Gemma,

      Can you confirm that you have a good internet connection through your wireless? It sounds like you may have a connectivity issue.

      Resetting network settings is a good bet…make sure you restart after doing that also. If no luck, you may need to take it to the Apple Store or contact their support.

      Let me know!


  11. Reply Jackie Sep 16,2012 3:56 pm

    Hi Dan

    I am iPhone user , and I have Business aboard, I’m not in my country .

    I want to ask , if I use IMessage , I can contact with my friends and my family who live in my country and no charge for that ?because if I want to send SMS , it costs money . Let me know

    Thank you

  12. Reply Nevada Aug 25,2012 2:35 pm

    I had an iPhone and my I messaging was working fine . But yesterday I got a new one and now my iMessages are sending through my email . Why is that ?

    • Reply Dan Aug 25,2012 7:46 pm

      Hey Nevada,

      Go into Settings/Messages and click Receive At. This is where you can specify which email address(es) you can be contacted at with iMessage. Hope this helps!


  13. Reply Nya Aug 15,2012 1:54 pm

    When i turn on imessage it says waiting for activation. When i go to yahoo to activate it theres no email for me to activate it ! How do i turn on imessage??

    • Reply Dan Aug 15,2012 4:46 pm

      Hi Nya,

      Try this:

      First deactivate WiFi on your device under Settings -> WiFi. Then turn off FaceTime and iMessage under Settings -> Facetime and Settings -> iMessage. Then go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings. Turn iMessage back on (you may have to log in) and it should be working. You’ll also have to turn on FaceTime in order to use that again as well.

      Let me know if this works!

  14. Reply Ishu Jul 31,2012 10:08 am

    How do I know if the person I am texting has iMessage.

    • Reply Dan Jul 31,2012 9:06 pm

      Hi Ishu,

      If they the Messages app on their iPad or iPhone, they will have iMessage. They need to make sure it is turned on as described above in Settings -> Messages.


  15. Reply Mj Jul 27,2012 3:08 am

    I’ve tested iMessage with my friendsand it works. My question is, how do we know if our friend who is an apple user has os5 with iMessage or not ??? Kindly advise…..

    • Reply Dan Jul 27,2012 8:40 am

      Hi MJ,

      Your friend can check the version of iOS they have under Settings -> General -> About -> Version.


  16. Reply MJ Jul 27,2012 1:57 am

    So, the imessage is sent automatically without our knowing that whether we are sending message thru normal text message or imessage isn’t it ??

    • Reply Dan Jul 27,2012 8:41 am

      Hey MJ,

      If the message goes through with a blue bubble, its an iMessage. If it goes through as green, its a regular SMS text.


  17. Reply viki Jul 24,2012 4:08 am

    hi, i have tried to use imessage and its still not letting me i have checked that i have turned it on and my version is 5.1.1 can you help me?

  18. Reply Carisa Jul 21,2012 6:08 pm

    Could you please give me more steps. It still won’t work

    • Reply Dan Jul 23,2012 8:11 am

      Hi Carisa,

      I’d be more than glad to help here. Can you first confirm that you have iOS 5 on your iPhone? Go to Settings/General/About and scroll down to “Version” and see if it is 5.0 or later. iOS 5.0 is necessary in order to use iMessage.

      If you do have iOS 5.0, let me know at what point in the steps above you are getting stuck on.


  19. Reply Jerry p Jul 15,2012 11:36 pm

    What the heck!!!??? I have iMessage enabled but it is still sending text messages. I’m in northern Alaska and all I have is a wireless connection. It’s the only way I can talk with my wife. I’m starting to doubt the iPhone. How dumb is this?!

    • Reply Dan Jul 16,2012 2:56 pm

      Hey Jerry,

      I definitely understand the frustration. First, can you confirm that that she has an iMessage capable device and that it is turned on in Settings?

      If you both have iMessage capable devices with iMessages turned on, then the only reason it will send as text is if iMessage is unavailable for a certain period of time…either because the receiving device is turned off or does not have service. You can control this by turning off “Send as SMS” under Settings/Messages.

      Let me know if this helps.


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