iMessage lets you send and receive SMS-like text messages, and MMS-style multimedia messages just like a phone. Instead of a just a phone number, however, it uses your email address, and it only works with other Apple devices, like other iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, and Macs. 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 set up your device using iCloud there's a chance iMessage is already set up as well, and good to go. If not, we'll show you how to get started, and get messaging, quickly.

How to activate iMessage for iPhone or iPad

If you set up your iPhone using iCloud, chances are iMessage was activated along with it. If not, or if you ever need to re-activate it, it's simple to do!

  1. Launch the Setting app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Messages.
  3. Turn iMessage to On and wait for it to activate.

Launch Settings, tap messages, turn iMessage on

Once iMessage activates you can send and receive texts and multimedia messages with other Apple users just like SMS and MMS! These instructions work for times when you need to re-activate iMessage as well due to a network error. Just toggle it on and off and you should be good to go!

How to add multiple email address to iMessage on iPhone and iPad

If you have additional email addresses you want to link to iMessage, be they iCloud/Me/Mac, Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail accounts, it's easy to set them up as well.

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Swipe up to scroll down the menu.
  3. Tap Messages.

    Launch the settings app, swipe up to scroll down the menu, and then tap on the Messages button.

  4. Tap Send & Receive.

  5. Tap Add Another Email.... It is located underneath the You can be reached by iMessage at: section.
  6. Type in the email address you'd like to add and hit return on your keyboard.

    Tap on the Send & Receive button, tap on the Add Another email button, type in the email you would like, and then tap on the return button.

You'll receive an email asking you to confirm you have access to the entered email account. Once you do that you're ready to start sending iMessages from the newly added address!

How to turn read receipts on or off in iMessage for iPhone or iPad

Read receipts let your contacts see whether or not you've viewed their iMessages. While some people may consider read receipts creepy, others may find them useful for work and business situations.

  1. Launch the Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Now either turn Read Receipts on or off depending on your preference.

    launch app, then tap on messages, then turn on or off read receipts

How to turn message previews on or off in iMessage for iPhone and iPad

By default, iOS will show a short preview of your iMessage (or SMS) on both the Lock screen and Home screen. If you'd rather have your notification only show the sender's name, however, you can easily adjust the settings of the Messages app to do so.

  1. Launch Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Notifications.

    tap settings, then notifications

  3. Tap Messages.

  4. Tap Show Previews.
  5. Tap Always, When Unlocked, or Never.

    Tap Messages, tap Show Previews, tap Always, When Unlocked, or Never