How to send texts using iMessage
If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or higher, or OS X Mountain Lion, you can cut out the carrier cash grab and use iMessage to send absolutely free text (SMS) messages to anyone else who's also using a similar Apple devices. It sounds simple, and it is, but there are a few important things to pay attention to.
Phone numbers vs. Apple IDs
Right now Apple uses two different systems for linking you to your iMessages. If you have an iPod touch, iPad, or Mac, your Apple ID email address will how you send and receive iMessages. If you have more than one Apple ID, iMessage will use whichever one you log into in Settings. Anyone you send an iMessage to will see it coming from that Apple ID, and anyone who wants to send you an iMessage will need to send it to that Apple ID.
If you have an iPhone, your iPhone telephone number will be used to identify use for sending and receiving iMessages, just like SMS and MMS messages on a regular phone. However, your Apple ID email address can be used as well, but will currently be treated separately.
What that means is, if someone iMessages your telephone number, it will only show up on your iPhone. If someone iMessages your Apple ID, it will show up on any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac logged into that Apple ID.
If that sounds confusing, don't worry. With iOS 6, set for release this September, Apple will allow you to "merge" your iPhone phone number and Apple ID so all your iMessages will go to all your devices, regardless of whether or not they're sent to your phone number or email address.
SMS vs. iMessage
If you're using an iPod touch, iPad, or Mac, you can only ever send iMessages. If you're using an iPhone, however, you can send both iMessages and standard SMS/MMS messages as well. (You need that in order to contact people who don't use Apple phones, including people on regular feature phones.)
To make it easier to tell the difference, Apple color codes all iMessages with blue bubbles, and all SMS/MMS messages with green bubbles. If you send a message and the bubble around it is blue, you're using iMessage. If the bubble is green, you're using SMS/MMS. If iMessage is offline, your iPhone may try to send over SMS/MMS, so keep an eye on it if you want to avoid charges, especially international charges outside of any texting plan you might have.
How to send a text message with iMessage on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
Once you're set up, you're ready to go. If you've ever sent a text message with your iPhone, you already know how to send an iMessage -- it uses the same Messages app. If you're brand new to the iPhone, or to iPod or iPad, here's how it's done.
- Launch the Messages app from the Home screen
- Tap the new message button in the top right.
- Tap the blue "+" buttonin the upper right hand corner to choose which contact you want to iMessage.
- Scroll through your contacts and tap on the phone numberor Apple ID email addressyou'd like to send an iMessage to.
- If your contact is using an iMessage-enabled device, the send button will turn blue**. You may also notice that you can start typing someone's name in the 'to' field and a blue bubble will auto-populate next to addresses or phone numbers that are iMessage ready.
- If your contact isn't using iMessage, but you're using their phone number, the send button will turn green**. You can still seen the message, but it will use SMS/MMS instead of iMessage
- If your contact isn't using iMessage and you're sending to their Apple ID email address, you'll see a redbubble around their name with an "X" next to it indicating that it's not a valid iMessage address.
- Type in your message and tap send.
How to send a text message with iMessage on Mac
- Open up iMessage in your dock.
- Click the new message button to the right of the search field.
- Start typing the name of the person in your address book that you'd like to iMessage. You'll notice that some names have blue bubbles next to them and some won't. The ones that do are addresses that you can send iMessages to because they are either Apple ID's or phone numbers associated with an iPhone with iMessage enabled.
- Once you've selected the person you'd like to send a message to, just type out your message and hit send. You're done!