How to Use iMessage on the iPhone

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).

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. Learn all about of the new iOS 5.0 features!

28 comments to How to Use iMessage on the iPhone

  • Diane

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

    • Dan

      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!


  • Trever

    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?

    • Dan

      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?


  • Wellesley

    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.

    • Dan

      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?

  • Dylan

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

    • Dan

      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”.


  • Gemma

    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

    • Dan

      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!


  • Jackie

    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

  • Nevada

    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 ?

    • Dan

      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!


  • Nya

    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??

    • Dan

      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!

  • Ishu

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

    • Dan

      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.


  • Mj

    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…..

  • MJ

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

  • viki

    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?

  • Carisa

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

    • Dan

      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.


  • Jerry p

    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?!

    • Dan

      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.


Leave a Reply




five × 7 =

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify via Email Only if someone replies to My Comment