How to use iMessage: The ultimate guide

How to use iMessage: The ultimate guide

iMessage is the name of Apple's proprietary instant messaging (IM) service that lets you send and receive free text, photo, video, and audio messages from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac to any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Not only does iMessage let you send free simple messaging service (SMS)-style and multimedia messaging service (MMS)-style messages, but also create and manage group messages, share location instantly, temporarily, or persistently, and more. Here's everything you need to know about iMessage!

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 turn on read receipts in iMessage

How to send Voice Memos with iMessage

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 quickly reply to an iMessage using interactive notifications

How to use quickly reply messaging in iMessage

Ever get an iMessage or text from someone while you're in the middle of doing something? We all have and we've all faced the dilemma of pausing our game or interrupting another activity in order to hop into the Messages app to respond. Luckily, if you're running iOS 8 or higher, you can respond to a message without having to close out of what you're doing.

How to mute individual conversation threads with iMessage

How to mute individual iMessage threads

There are times when we need to receive some notifications but not others. Perhaps you're waiting for an important text from your boss but don't really feel like receiving notifications from others at that moment, or a certain person just won't stop messaging you. Since Do Not Disturb extends to message threads as well, you can do just that. Simply silence the threads you don't want notifications for and the others will continue to alert you like they normally would.

How to leave a group message with iMessage

How to leave group messages with iMessage

Sometimes muting a message thread just isn't enough. Ever been stuck in an annoying group message you just can't seem to get out of? We've all been there and wished that just deleting the thread would make the madness stop. Luckily, if you and everyone in the thread are running iOS 8 or higher, you can now leave a group message at your own discretion.

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 quickly delete multiple images at once with iMessage

How to quickly delete images and attachments in iMessage

iMessage is a great way to share photos and videos quickly with others. Unfortunately that also means it can be a huge storage hog if you let it. So if you have threads with certain people that you know you share lots of files with, it's a good idea to go through occasionally and clean them out. Luckily, it's a pretty easy task if you use the attachments section of an iMessage thread.

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 photo and video selfies with iMessage

How to quickly send a photo or video selfie with iMessage

Sending a selfie photo or video from your iPhone or iPad is literally just a swish and a flick away if you're running iOS 8 or higher. Just hold down on the camera icon and flick your photo or video away when you're done. You can even use the same mode to quickly take photos and videos using the rear facing camera too!

How to send voice messages with iMessage

How to send a voice message with iMessage

Sometimes we can't always type a response to an iMessage when we need to. But if you absolutely have to respond, you could always send a voice message in its place. Not only is it easy, it takes half the time that typing out a long text string would take. And the person on the other side can just raise their iPhone to their face in order to listen, it's that easy!

How to quickly share your location using iMessage

How to share your location with iMessage and iOS 8

Since iMessage is one of the easiest ways to communicate from your iPhone or iPad, it makes sense to use it for location data. As of iOS 8, you can share your location with any iMessage contact or group for a specific period of time, or indefinitely. That way people can easily get directions to your location and even send you directions on how to get somewhere, without ever even needed your actual address.

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 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 turn off iMessage if you stop using your iPhone

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

If, for whatever reason, you stop using your iPhone and are forced to use a regular cellphone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or Android phone, 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

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to use iMessage: The ultimate guide

13 Comments

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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Besides being free for iphone to iphone, are there any reasons to use imessage over sms if everyone has carrier plans with unlimited messaging?

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Yes. No limit to how many characters you can type. When you send a long message using sms it is broken up in bits and, depending on the network, the receiver might get them in the wrong order. That part is very frustrating.

You can send large chunks of video. You can also send high res pictures.

You know when it is delivered and when it is read (if the read receipt is turned on).

It works with wifi. Many times when I am in my basement and trying to text someone that is not on iMessage the text would fail to send because it solely using cellular signals. Terrible.

You can receive, read and respond to your iMessages from multiple devices if you like. You, at least, do have that option.

If you are the traveling kind, as long as there is wifi, your iMessages would not stop coming in.... no matter the part of the world you find yourself in. As soon as you board that plane to fly across the pond, your sms is useless. Well, unless you have a lot of money to waste. Or, have T-mobile.

We are not even gonna get into security and backup.

Thank you!
Now to look into that backup and security you mentioned. :)

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