Not getting texts after switching from iPhone to Android? Here's how to turn off iMessage and fix it!

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 deactivate iMessage and before switching from iPhone to Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone

Complete these steps from your iPhone before starting to use your new smartphone:

  1. Launch Settings from the Home screen of your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Messages.
  3. At the top, turn iMessage to Off.
  4. Now hop into the Messages app and send some messages to people you know have iPhones to make sure they can message you back. You want green messages bubbles for everything.

That's all there is to it. Once you've done this, iMessage should hopefully deactivate from Apple's servers and you shouldn't have any issues, nor should you have to go any further into this guide. As a side note, the sooner you do this, the better off you are. If you know you're going out to purchase an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone in 3 days, do this process right now. That way you have turned off iMessage and it gives the servers a few days to actually process the request completely and boot you off.

Once you've switched to your new smartphone, verify you can send and receive text messages to someone else using an iPhone. If you aren't receiving anything back, continue on to remedy the problem...

How to fully deactivate iMessage from Apple's servers

Unfortunately, there isn't a list of steps you can perform on your own. Instead, you need to call 1-800-MY-APPLE in order to have Apple manually de-register your phone number from the Apple servers. In order to do this, make sure you have your Apple ID on hand as well as the phone number in question.

To expedite the process of your call, be sure to ask for technical support when calling in. Then just tell them you're switching to a smartphone that isn't an iPhone and you can't receive messages so you need them to manually unregister you from the iMessage servers.

Update: Why does this happen with iMessage?

iMessage is completely integrated with SMS/MMS in the iOS Messages app. Apple effectively intercepts SMS/MMS and replaces it with iMessage for iOS users. That ease of setup and phenomenal experience comes with a downside — if you stop using iMessage you have to tell Apple by turning it off. Otherwise Apple will keep trying to deliver iMessages for a week and, if you're not using iOS, you won't get them unless and until iMessage times out or you go online or call up Apple and ask them to disconnect you.

Yes, that's impenetrable to many if not most people who decide to switch away, but it's hard to imagine a workable alternative that doesn't also destroy the ease of use and experience. (I've been trying for months.) - Rene

How to get more help with iMessage

If you're having issues getting iMessage to activate, get more help at the iMore forums, and for more tips, check out:

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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There are 52 comments. Add yours.

kch50428 says:

Awesome tip...especially the latter about calling in to have Apple do it for you after the fact.

greg G2014 says:

https://supportprofile.apple.com Sign in here and unregister your device from here. Then power cycle your phone.

bobbob1016 says:

I know I'm 5 months late here, but no, this will *not* fix it. Support Profile is just what they see on their screen when you call in, nothing more nothing less.

blessed2bamommie says:

I have issues sending pics to Android users! I've had an iPhone 5 since launch!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Not an issue I have ever heard of... do they fail or what?

nickthorley says:

They just disappear into space and dont give an error so the sender thinks its gone but the receiver never gets it

eahinrichsen says:

Is this for all Android users, or do you know if the recipients you're talking about are using Google Voice? Google Voice doesn't play nice with MMS, and if you send a picture message to a GV user, it will just disappear into the ether and you will not get an error message.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Hmm, I'll look into it. Perhaps try disabling iMessage, send a photo via regular text, see if that goes thru. If it does, then re-enable iMessage.

nickfire20 says:

I have the same problem nickthorley, but only since ios7. On my iphone 5

Sent from the iMore App

qfnol31 says:

Have you tried using Hangouts or something similar just for them? That's what I recommend to my sisters since we are in the same position you seem to be in. It seems to work well for us, though it's not a perfect solution.

Posted via the Android iMore App!

kilcher says:

Would wiping your phone (which you should do if you're knowingly getting rid of it) accomplish the same thing? Or not?

djstarion says:

I did mine with just removing my phone number from iMessage in the settings > messages > iMessage. I still have iMessage on my iPad for people that send it to my GMail or iCloud e-mail, but texts go to my Moto X now.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

You can't remove your phone number on a primary device. It's greyed out. The first section was to do BEFORE you remove your SIM. This method you're explaining doesn't always work since your SIM is already removed and not communicating with the network anymore anyways. That's an iOS 7 glitch. It shouldn't even show if a SIM is not active.

djstarion says:

Now that I think about it, I did end up doing on my iPad after I did the factory reset on the iPhone.

J-P Sadek says:

What if I turn off iMessage on the iPad after I've gotten rid of my iPhone? Do I still have to call Apple and have them turn it off for my #?

stevehsteveh says:

Great advice,but I find you don't need to call Apple as you can do this yourself reliably. Before you turn off iMessage in settings, messages. Click on send and receive, then click on your Apple ID. One of the choices is to sign out from your iMessage account. Do this and then as your last step turn off iMessage and you will have no messaging problems to any device.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Doesn't always work. I've seen many instances where it doesn't. Calling Apple ensures they manually unregister your phone #.

cashxx says:

I'd only be switching from Android to iPhone so no problems here. Nice having a phone that doesn't reboot or constantly act up or fail.

Illustrator Joe says:

Always got to be that guy don't you?

kch50428 says:

Which makes you what? The opposite of that guy...

Illustrator Joe says:

And yourself, the observer of both guys.

simongodard says:

If you don't want to call Apple, here is another fix: http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/05/imessage-bug-traps-android-converters-p...
-------
Go to: https://supportprofile.apple.com/MySupportProfile.do
Log in if not already logged in.
Click on “edit products”
Click on the “x” to the right of the product.
Click “unregister”

Allyson Kazmucha says:

That's removing the entire device, and doesn't have anything to do with iMessage itself.

Connor Mason says:

Sort of ridiculous how complicated this is, no? Still glad I made the switch to the Nexus 5 though. The first sentence of this article is everything I expect from you guys here...

Posted via the Android iMore App!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

And that would be what? We're giving switchers advice and you still have to troll?

Sigh...

kch50428 says:

Sigh indeed... it's what the iMore Android app hath wrought.

fastchicken says:

"iMessage works by intercepting SMS and routing it through Apple's servers instead. "

Wait, what?

I'm assuming you have simplified that somewhat. They don't intercept your SMS messages (from someone, via your carrier, to you). If someone sends an SMS to you, it goes directly to you.

They do record that your phone has iMessage on tho - so anyone with an iPhone who tries to send using messages will go via apple, eventually time out, and then go via SMS.

Apple can't intercept your SMSs. Only the NSA can do that :)

WPSteve says:

What if iMessage isn't intercepting like it should be? I have one friend who I know has an iPhone and we are always green to each other.

Sent from the iMore App

tlo07 says:

I think you have to turn off FaceTime too. I just did this a week ago going back to the GS4. Guess what? I'm already selling it and going back to my iPhone. I think I do this every 6 months. *sigh* I never learn!

Derrick4Real says:

i saw a posting about this last year in the forums. I think the guy didn't have his phone anymore and was able to go to a sprint store or best buy and simply log in with his/her apple id and then log out of imessage and then log out of the apple id and it worked.

Tropikal Sunshine says:

Man, wish I would of known this when I switch to my Android Note 2 from a iPhone 4S a 1 year ago. I called AT&T and Apple Tech and they just pointed fingers at each other saying that it was a server issue. Then AT&T said it would clear and sort it itself out in 2 to 3 weeks.

zdn1042 says:

I didn't know you could even turn off iMessage. And although I don't see myself needing this tip anytime soon, still, thanks for sharing!

Bee Ryan says:

In googlerussia - SMS owns you.

Bee Ryan says:

Turn off iMessage? In Googlerussia SMS owns you.

Christopher Stokebrand says:

I had this problem, ended up calling apple support and they had no idea what to do or what was going on. It took about 4 days before I started getting messages again.

GKNUB says:

Unfortunately this is a major bug. I'm the tech support guy at home and have a MBP and 5S (Apple guy). My sister and brother had the 4S but switched to the Nexus 5 recently. They both still report issues with getting text messages after two weeks. I've tried all the suggestions in the article (reset pw, remove device from user profile, disable iMessage before wiping, calling in) and they still report receiving text message problems (off and on it seems). When they called in, Apple had nothing to disable in iMessage. What's even odder is when I send them a message, it still tries to send via iMessage first (blue, red exclamation mark) then goes to green. I even tried deleting their contacts and adding them again. They still have FaceTime in their profiles too.... definitely a bug on Apple's side, hoping they will fix it as this is not a good user experience.

Andrea Stephenson says:

I had an iPhone and now have a galaxy s4. In group texts I am receiving all of my friends texts except one iphone user. I called apple and asked people at Verizon and nothing is working.

mem_somerville says:

Thanks so much for this post. I'm having exactly this problem. I didn't know about it before porting my number to the new Android phone, but we did try to de-register, shut off messages, etc, to no avail. So I'm in phase II.

First I called Apple and gave them the old phone number. But they wanted to charge me $20 for a service call because I'm out of service support or whatever. I hung up.

So I called back and played dumb like I didn't have a phone number, and I got a live person. He tried very hard to help, removed me from the iMessage thing, but there's some text verification that has to come from the Apple system, and for some reason my phone can't get it. I got bumped up to a supervisor who also tried. An hour later....We are currently at a standoff because I can't get that verification.

I'll let you know how it resolves.

mem_somerville says:

So we went 'round and 'round. The poor guy at Apple tried really hard. But there's just no resolution for my case. The official answer is that in 45 days I will be off the iMessage system. Just hope nobody with an iPhone texts me in that time. Sigh.

portsie says:

After I had already moved to a blackberry (and no access to my previous iPhone), I tried changing my Apple ID password and that seemed to have helped too.

determined mother says:

How frustrating to discover that I couldn't text with my teen after switching from iphone to android. The old phone was gone, and there seemed to be nothing we could do but wait, according to apple support. Suddenly it dawned on me, if the iphone "thinks" it is sending an imessage, all I need to do is -confuse it. I deleted the contact of the android user in the iphone, re-entered it, this time without the area code, making it a brand new unrecognizable contact, and voila! It worked!

quitob1 says:

I just got off the phone with Apple and they said that they hated to admit this, but the problem isn’t with my Android, but their iPhones. They confirmed that my reactivated (Android) phone number is no longer on their iMessage servers (which is good), but my wife's iPhone still thinks my number is linked to iMessages and her phone fails to pull updated updated Contact info from iMessages servers. On her iPhone they said to 1) update to iOS 7.1, 2) delete my contact and all my iMessages threads, 3) recreate my contact with phone number, and 4) try sending me a text again. It worked after I did this, but then the problem resurfaced. All my devices do not have Messages enabled. What a PITA and I don't know what to do. Going back to my iPhone is not an option, just out of principle that Apple can’t get their act together.

3ebfanman85 says:

I still am having a problem. I shut off I message on my iPhone and iPad. I've switched my passwords when going go a droid and had apple manually remove me. I've even texted "stop" to the number apple recommends but I still have one friend who can't text me, she's erased me from her phone and added again and put me as Mobile. Another friend just today was texting me and hours later tried again only to see all went through as I message, not even a not delivered message. Is there anything left I can do?????

Cecil Kruel says:

Try removing your iCloud account from your iPhone and ipad. Remove your facetime account from your ipad and iphone. I had to do all these things as well as unregister my devices on Apple support website. Turned off imessage on both ipad and iphone.

NiklasTatu says:

To prevent removing everything on your iPhone, you may try to switch from iPhone to Android with Phone Transfer.
Here's a tutorial that may help you: http://www.transphone.net/phone-transfer/switch-iphone-to-android.html

fijimunkii says:

Just spoke to Apple and the current way to unsubscribe is to text HELP to 48369, and then respond with STOP. Hope this helps others.

Bren Tan says:

I just went through this today and yesterday. Took me a little while before I found this page. Most say that once you switch off iMessage in your old iPhone and on your Mac (if you have one) you'll be fine. When I called, they said to text STOP to 58369 and that can take a few minutes to a few hours to resolve. It seemed to work pretty quick for me. Apple's support page has info on it as well

batsai says:

Thanks Allyson- this article was a lifesaver!

blyths says:

The most puzzling part of this article is Rene's quote:
"but it's hard to imagine a workable alternative that doesn't also destroy the ease of use and experience. (I've been trying for months.) - Rene"
It's not hard to imagine at all - if removing yourself by starting on the phone in advance of the switch works - then there is no reason Apple can't perform the exact same server side changes when you remove yourself online after the fact. There is also no excuse for showing successful delivery to the sender when the message is still in Apple's servers waiting to find your old phone.

zavandiver says:

Sending the HELP message to 48369 seemed to work for me. When my wife texted me it showed up as undeliverable and to resend as regular text which worked.

bobbob1016 says:

Minor tweak here, and I know I'm 6.5 months late, to correct this, but you do not need your AppleID. Just a phone number. Had it happen to a friend who never owned an iPhone, just got a new phone number, and it was recycled before it was deregistered. She called Apple, without an AppleID, they sent the text thing to deregister, she read a code, and she's done.