How to use iMessage: The ultimate guide!

How to use iMessage: The ultimate guide!

Everything you need to know about setting up, securing, sending, and receiving iMessages on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac

iMessage is Apple's proprietary service that allows you to send and receive free, SMS- and MMS-like messages on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac from any other iMessage user. Not only can you send regular text, photo, and video messages with iMessage, but contacts, voice memos, and locations as well. iMessage works on any device running iOS 5 or higher, and any Mac running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or higher. Whether you need help setting up or using any or all of the features, you've come to the right place!

Note: Updated for iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks 10.9.2. We'll be updating this guide regularly as Apple introduces more iMessage features, so make sure you bookmark this page and check back frequently!

How to set up, configure, and secure iMessage

How to set up, configure, and secure iMessage

iMessage is super easy to start using right out of the box but you'll need to configure a few things first. Whether you're on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac you'll only have a few steps to complete before you'll be sending all kinds of content via iMessage. The process may be slightly different depending on what device you're setting up so make sure to check out our guides on getting it configured.

How to send texts using iMessage

How to send texts using iMessage

iMessage integrates into the default Messages app so there's nothing special you need to do to send an iMessage as opposed to a text. As long as the person you're sending a text message to is also using an iMessage enabled device (aka iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac), it will just work. If they don't have iMessage enabled, any messages sent from iPhone will go through as a standard text message (carrier rates will apply to the sender and receiver).

How to send photos using iMessage

How to send photos using iMessage

More often than not, your iPhone is always on you which means you probably use it to capture a lot of moments. You'll most likely want to share them with friends and family. iMessage makes it super simple to do so and you can use it on any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. If the other person isn't using iMessage, they'll just receive a standard SMS (messaging rates will apply). Whether you want to share pictures from your iPhone or from iPhoto on your Mac, we can help you start sharing your images in no time.

How to send videos using iMessage

How to send videos using iMessage

iMessage works with other iOS devices and Macs to let you easily send all kinds of content without paying your carrier for a special messaging plan (data rates will still apply if you aren't on Wi-Fi), including any videos you've recorded on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. iMessage is built right into the same Messages app and Share Sheet that sends SMS and MMS to your non-iPhone using friends, so you don't have to do anything extra to use it either.

How to send contact cards using iMessage

How to send contact cards using iMessage

iMessage, and even traditional SMS makes it super simply to quickly send contact information from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. As long as you have the information listed in your iOS Contacts app, you're always only a few taps away from sharing a vCard file (vcf) containing phone numbers, email, street addresses, and much more.

How to send map locations using iMessage

How to send map locations using iMessage

You can quickly share your location with friends, family, and colleagues using iMessage. Whether you're lost or need someone to give you directions, or you're waiting and want to help someone find you, iMessage is as simple as hitting the share button and sending. The person on the other end will be sent your location instantly.

How to send Voice Memos with iMessage

How to send Voice Memos with iMessage

The iPhone and iPod touch have a built-in Voice Memo app that can be handy for recording lengthy thoughts or instructions. Whether you need to dictate instructions to someone or want to share lecture notes from a class, iMessage makes it easy. Once they receive it they'll be able to play it directly through the Messages app.

How to turn on and off read receipts in iMessage

How to send Voice Memos with iMessage

If you've got an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or higher or a Mac running OS X Mountain Lion, you can use iMessage to send free text, photo, and video messages to anyone else in the world as long as they're using an iMessage capable device as well. Read receipts allow your contact to see whether or not you've viewed a message yet. While some people may consider read receipts to be a bit stalker-ish, others may find them useful for work and business situations.

How to report iMessage spam to Apple

How to report iMessages spam to Apple

If you receive and unwanted iMessage, you can report them to Apple by sending a screenshot of the message, the sender's email address or phone number, and the date and time that the message was received. It's a great way to take back control of your communications!

How to block iMessage on the iPhone or iPad

How to block phone calls, FaceTime calls, and Messages from someone in iOS 7

If you're getting harassed, spammed, stalked, or otherwise subjected to unwanted iMessages, you can block the person and preventing them from contacting you again. It's like an infinite iPhone or iPad time out for jerks. And best of all, it's easy to do.

How to block iMessages on the Mac

How to block a contact through iMessage and FaceTime in OS X

If you're being stalked, spammed, pranked, or otherwise abused over iMessage, you can block that contact and prevent them from bothering you ever again, even on your Mac. It's simple, it's easy, and it's oh-so-gratifying. If there's an especially annoying someone you've been waiting to ignore, here's how to do it!

How to shut down iMessage if you switch to Android

How to deactivate iMessage before switching to BlackBerry, Android, or Windows Phone

If you've succumbed to the temptations of Android — or even Windows Phone or BlackBerry — there are some steps you need to take to make sure the iPhone friends you leave behind can still reach you. iMessage works by routing iPhone to iPhone messages through Apple's servers instead of sending them as actual text messages. Unfortunately, unless you tell it to stop doing this, iMessage has no way of knowing you've left, at least until it times out after a couple weeks, and that's beyond frustrating. Luckily, deactivating it is easy. Here's how!

How to get more help with iMessage

If you need more help setting up, using, or trouble-shooting iMessage on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac, head on over to our iMessage forum and ask away!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 9 comments. Add yours.

GrannieTheGeek says:

This was a great read. I thought I knew everything there is to know about iMessage but I didn't. I love the ability to send Voice Memos. Thank you.

9thWonder says:

nice write up. i don't typically distinguish between imessage or a regular text. in fact i didn't know there was a difference until a few months ago. But for my use i just open up the messenger and hit send. I don't know what systems it's using. i dont' know what phone people have. imessage is left on but i don't pay much attention to the system the message is sent with i just want it to go.

rickyb13 says:

I recently set up my moms iMessage an she txt me an for some reason I received all her contacts!!! Ne idea y? And ne idea how I can delete them without goin through every 1 of my contacts?

nat750 says:

Excellent 'How To'. Thanks.

asuperstarr says:

Thanks for the information! This is good to share with others!

Sent from the iMore App

troyclt says:


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avelvethammer says:

These are great. Keep them coming.

ewelch says:

Excellent information. Please put this in a downloadable PDF in a few weeks (after you've got your page hits). :)

I need to send this to a few people - and read it myself. All these links are leading to a rather less than ideal user experience.

bdunn014 says:

Excellent information I will definitely bookmark this to refer back to later for help with troubling shooting with friends & family

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