How do you use iMessage to send text, pictures, videos, sound, location, and more—right from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac?

iMessage is Apple's built-in instant messaging (IM) service. It lets you send text, picture, video, sound, and location quickly and easily to anyone else using iMessage on iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch. Apple is also bringing significant updates to iMessage in iOS 10, including bubble and screen effects, emoji tapbacks and full-on emojification, Digital Touch and handwriting, and, for the first time, iMessage apps.

On your iPhone, iMessage lives alongside SMS and MMS, so you can keep in touch with non-Apple friends from the same app. Thanks to Continuity, you can even get those "green bubbles" on iPad and Mac as well! It makes for an incredibly powerful, unified experience. Here's how to use it.

Update: Apple has enabled a special effect for Chinese (Lunar) New Year. Write: "Happy Chinese New Year", hit send, and you'll not only get the Celebration screen effect, but a red bubble for luck and gold writing for prosperity.

How bubble and screen effects work in iMessage for iOS 10

Messages in iOS 10 has new effects for iPhone or iPad that make bubbles slam, loud, gentle, or invisible, or turn the whole screen to balloons, confetti, lasers, fireworks, or shooting stars.

How emoji and Tapbacks work in iMessage for iOS 10

Messages in iOS 10 also takes emoji to the next level. If that doesn't sound important to you, then you haven't seen the kind of cheers emoji get on stage or the amount of interest they generate on social. They're a big, smiley, thumbs-up deal! If you want to test them out, here's how!

How Digital Touch and handwriting work in iMessage for iOS 10

Digital Touch — the ability to send a hand-drawn Sketch, haptic Taps, or sensor-read Heartbeats — was one of the debut features of the Apple Watch. Now, with iOS 10, all those communication features are making their way to the iPhone and iPad as well. Will Digital Touch on the phone and tablet come off as a gimmick, or will it go mainstream? If you're a developer, you can try it out now and decide for yourself.

How stickers and apps work in iMessage for iOS 10

Apple has opened up iMessage to the App Store. Designers can now create sticker packs that you can post send, modify, and stamp on top of other messages. And developers can create apps that let you share content, edit photos, play games, send payments, and collaborate with others, right inside Messages. It's great for users, who get much richer functionality, and for developers, who get a chance to become as viral as the next hot meme.

How to set up and activate iMessage for iPhone and iPad

Before you can start using messages, and sending texts, photos, videos, voice memos, locations, and contact cards, however, you need to set it up. If you enabled iCloud on your iPhone or iPad, there's a chance iMessage was enabled as well. If not, you can turn it on quickly and customize it just the way you like it.

How to send iMessages on IPhone or iPad

With the Messages app, you can send all kinds of things to all kinds of people. You can send iMessages over Wi-Fi or cellular data to anyone and everyone using an iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod touch, or Apple Watch. That includes text, pictures, audio, video, location, and more. You can also send standard carrier SMS/MMS text and picture messages to anyone on any phone. Here's how!

How to share location, contacts, and more with iMessage on iPhone or iPad

iMessage lets you send more than just text, images, and video. You can also send contact cards, voice memos, map locations, and more. You do have to go to other apps to fetch the information you want to send, but once you're there, the Share Sheet makes it easy to do.

How to quickly send and reply with iMessage for iPhone or iPad

Once upon a time you had to slowly and methodically tap your way through apps and between them just to send and respond to messages. Thanks to the Messages app and Notification Center, though, you can rapidly respond from any app, and immediately send soundbites, selfies, location, and more right over iMessage.

How to use iMessage groups on iPhone and iPad

You don't have to send iMessages to just one person. Thanks to groups, you can share text, photos, videos, soundbites, location — almost anything you like — with two people, three people, and more. You can even name a conversation thread to make it easier to find and keep track of, or mute it for when it's getting too noisy to follow.

How to copy and forward iMessages on iPhone and iPad

We've all been there. You get an iMessage—or SMS/MMS—from one person that you really want to, or absolutely have to, send it on to someone else. Luckily, the Messages app gives you two ways to do just that. You can either forward the message to one or multiple contacts, or copy the contents and paste into an entirely new message. Copying is also a great way to get a message into another app, like Mail, Notes, or Safari.

How to delete iMessages on iPhone and iPad

You can't delete iMessages or SMS/MMS on someone else's iPhone or iPad — so always be careful what you send — but you can delete any record of them from your iPhone or iPad. So, whether you don't want to be reminded of an embarrassing or hurtful text, or you want to get rid of storage-consuming pictures and videos, the Messages app lets you wipe them out or set them to expire automatically.

How to mute, block, and report spam on iMessage for iPhone and iPad

Just because anyone can send you an iMessage on your iPhone or iPad doesn't mean you have to let them. If you're getting messaged too often, if you keep getting messages meant for someone else, of if — ugh! — you're getting spam, you can absolutely take action again it. Mute, block, and reporting are all here for you.

How to disable and deactivate iMessage on iPhone or iPad

The Messages app lets your iPhone and iPad owning friends, family, and colleagues send you iMessages instead of SMS or MMS, thus avoiding carrier fees. Apple does this by detecting that you're both using iOS and then sending an iMessage instead of an SMS or MMS. If you stop using your iPhone, though, and switch to Android, Apple has to stop sending iMessages instead of SMS. The best way to make sure Apple knows you've switched, and to make sure you don't miss any messages from those still using iOS, is to turn off iMessage before you go.

How to use iMessage with Siri

Whether you're driving or your iPhone or iPad is simply across the room, you can combine iMessage with Apple's virtual assistant, Siri to send texts and even have incoming texts read to you, all with the power of your voice.

Note: Most modern iPhones and iPads can be voice-activated when plugged in. 2015 iPhones and later, and 2016 iPads and later, can also be voice-activated when not plugged in. Simply say "Hey Siri" instead of holding down the home button. All subsequent steps remain the same.

Secret iMessage shortcuts: Twelve gestures to speed up your chat!

Messages is the most popular app on iPhone because it's what keeps you in touch with everyone else who has an iPhone. And iPad, and Mac, and any other kind of phone. Thanks to all the gestures and shortcuts Apple's built into Messages, it also keeps you in that contact quicker than ever. Not all of them are obvious, but all of them are useful — once you figure them out!