How to Use iMessage for iPhone

Enabling iMessage on your iPhone is easy. When you activate iMessage, you can send and receive messages between iPhones, Mac, or iPads. Most of the time, iMessage is enabled when you log into your iPhone with your Apple ID. If it’s not, we’ll show you the steps to follow to activate it.

iMessage vs. SMS

If you’re unsure about the differences between an iMessage and regular SMS/MMS, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Although they have similarities, they aren’t the same.

iMessages image from support.apple.com
(source: support.apple.com)
  • Messages is the default messaging app on iPhone. Using this app, you can send both iMessage and SMS messages to your contacts.
  • iMessage is not activated by default on your iPhone, but you can activate it when setting up your iPhone or through the settings app. 
  • iMessage only works between iPhones and other Apple devices like iPads or Mac. When an iPhone user sends a message to an Android user, it goes through as an SMS, not an iMessage.
  • A significant difference is that you need an internet connection (cellular data or Wi-Fi) to send messages with iMessage, while SMS messages rely on your carrier charges.
  • iMessages are encrypted and appear in a blue text bubble if you send a message to another iPhone user. SMSs, on the other hand, are not encrypted and appear in a green text bubble. Additionally, an iMessage sent to a non-iPhone (e.g., Android) device will appear with a green text bubble.

How to Turn on iMessage on your iPhone

  1.  Go to the Settings app on your iPhone.

    Go to the Settings app
    Go to the Settings app.
  2. Tap Messages.

    Select Messages
    Select Messages
  3. To activate iMessage, slide the iMessage toggle to the right.
    Slide the iMessage toggle
    Slide the iMessage toggle

    You can now send and receive iMessages on your iPhone.

How to Compose a Message on  iMessage

What makes iMessage so popular is its variety of features and ease of use. When sending an iMessage, you can change the screen effects, add stickers to your texts, and chat with your friends and family through group chats.

  1. Tap the Messages icon on your home screen.

    Tap Messages icon
    Tap Messages icon
  2. Tap the compose message icon on the top-right corner of the screen.

    Tap the Compose icon
    Tap the Compose icon
  3. Enter the phone number or name in the To: field. The recipient should have iMessage enabled on their iPhone or Apple device. If not, the message will be sent as an SMS.

    Enter the phone number or name in the TO field. 
    Enter the phone number or name in the TO field.
  4. Type in the message box.

    Type in the Message box
    Type in the Message box
  5. Tap the upward arrow on the right to send the iMessage.

    Tap the Upward arrow
    Tap the Upward arrow on the right

How to Send Audio Messages on iMessage

Voice messages are fun and simple to record when you’re in a hurry. They help relay messages much faster than texting long paragraphs. Here is how to send audio messages on iMessage: 

  1. Open the Messages app.

    Tap Messages icon
    Tap Messages icon
  2. Tap and hold the vertical lines in the message box to record your audio message.

    Select and hold the Vertical Lines
    Select and hold the Vertical Lines
  3. Release the recording button to finish recording the audio message.

    Release the recording button
    Release the recording button.
  4. If you want to listen to the recorded message before sending it, click on the play button.

    Hit the Play button to replay
    Hit the Play button to replay the audio message.
  5. To delete the audio message, click on the X.

    Click X to delete the message
    Click X to delete the audio message.
  6. Click on the upward pointing arrow when you’re ready to send the audio.

    Click Arrow to send audio message
    Click Arrow to send the audio message
  7. You will see Delivered below the audio if your voice message is sent successfully.

    Audio Message delivered
    Audio Message delivered.

How to Copy and Delete Messages on iMessage

  1. Open the Messages app.

    Tap Messages icon
    Tap the Messages icon to open the app
  2. To Copy a message, tap and hold the message until a pop-up menu appears.
    Long Press the message for pop-up menu
    Long Press the message for the pop-up menu.

    4. Select Copy. This action copies the message to your iPhone clipboard.

    Tap Copy
    Tap Copy

    5. Long press the message bar to Paste the message. You can also paste it into other apps.

    Long Press on the message bar to paste
    Long Press on the message bar to paste.

    6. To delete a message, long-press the message, so the pop-up menu appears again.

    To delete, long press the message until the menu appears
    To delete, long-press the message until the pop-up menu appears.

    7. Tap More.

    Tap More
    Tap More

    8. You will be taken back to the message thread, where you can select more messages to delete.

    Select More Messages to delete
    Select More Messages to delete.

    9. To delete, tap the dustbin icon that appears on the lower-left corner of the screen.

    Tap the dustbin to delete message
    Tap the dustbin to delete the message

How to Forward Messages on iMessage

Forwarding a message on iMessage is straightforward. Here is how to do it:

  1. To forward a text on iMessage, long-press on the message until a pop-up menu appears.

    Long Press the message until the pop-menu appears
    Long Press the message until the pop-menu appears
  2.  Click More to get more options. You will be redirected back to the message thread.

    Click More
    Click More
  3. At the right lower bottom of the screen, click the Forward arrow to forward the message.

    Click Forward Arrow
    Click Forward Arrow
  4. You will have to enter the name or phone number you want to receive the message. You will see the text in the message box if you’re going to add anything else.

    Enter the name or phone number to forward message
    Enter the name or phone number to forward the message.

How to Share Photos and Videos on iMessage

iMessage allows you to send photos and videos to your contacts easily. Follow these steps:  

  1. Tap the Camera icon to take a picture you want to send.

    Tap the Camera icon
    Tap the Camera icon
  2. You can also choose an existing photo or video to send from your gallery. To see recent images, tap the photos icon.

    Tap the Photos icon
    Tap the Photos icon
  3. Scroll through your photos and videos to choose the image you want to send.

    Scroll through the Photos and Videos
    Scroll through the Photos and Videos on your device
  4. You can also add comments before sending the photos or videos.

    Add comment on the photo messages
    Add a comment on the photo messages.
  5. Tap the Upward arrow on the right to send your message.

    Tap the arrow to send the message
    Tap the arrow to send the message.
  6. To remove the photo or video, tap the X icon.

    Tap X to remove a photo or video
    Tap X to remove a photo or video.
  7. To save a photo you have been sent, click the download icon next to the image.
To save, click the download icon next to the image or video.
To save, click the download icon next to the image or video.
  1. Then, click on Save Photo to download the image to your iCloud Photos or Gallery.
Tap Save Photo to add the image to your iCloud photos
Tap Save Photo to add the image to your iCloud photos

Multiple photos on iMessages are automatically grouped for a more straightforward interface. While swiping through the images, you can also reply to and react to each image individually. 

If you want to send an SMS instead of iMessage

You may occasionally need to send an SMS instead of iMessage – for example, if you don’t have internet or data available.

There are two ways you can send SMSs from your iPhone to another iPhone. The simplest way is to disable iMessage. To disable iMessage, go to Settings > Messages > Disable iMessage. 

You can also manually send SMS messages even when iMessage is active. Go to the Settings app and switch off Send as SMS. Go to Settings > Messages > Send as SMS.

When iMessage is unavailable, the message won’t be delivered. Press and hold on to the individual message until a pop-up menu appears. Tap Send as Text Message to send the SMS messages to the other iPhone user. 

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