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How to disable and deactivate iMessage on iPhone or iPad

How to turn on Messages in iCloud
How to turn on Messages in iCloud (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

The Messages app lets people who own Apple products send iMessages back and forth to one another, rather than traditional SMS or MMS messages. This allows you to get around any carrier-imposed SMS or MMS limits. If you stop using your iPhone and switch to Android, however, 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 deactivate iMessage and FaceTime before switching from iPhone to Android

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

  1. Launch Settings from the Home screen of your iPhone.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Tap the slider next to iMessage to turn it off.

Deactivate iMessage, showing how to open settings, tap Messages, then tap the slider next to iMessage to the off position (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Go back to Settings.
  2. Tap on Facetime.
  3. Tap the slider next to Facetime to turn it off.

Deactivate iMessage, showing how to tap FaceTime in Settings, then tap the slider next to FaceTime to the off position (Image credit: iMore)

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.

Once you're done this, iMessage should 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 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 manually deactivate iMessage from Apple's servers

If you've already migrated over to your new device but forgot to deactivate iMessage and no longer have access to an iPhone, don't sweat. Apple has an online process for you to deactivate your phone number from the iMessage servers.

  1. Go to Apple's iMessage deregistration page (opens in new tab) from any web browser.
  2. Scroll down to the second section labeled No longer have your iPhone?.
  3. Enter the phone number you'd like to de-activate from iMessage and click Send Code.
  4. Check your current phone for a text message and enter the code that you're sent.
  5. Wait for confirmation that iMessage has been de-activated.

How to manually deactivate iMessage, showing how to enter your phone number, enter the confirmation code you've been sent, then tap Submit (Image credit: iMore)

Alternatively, you can 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.

Updated May 2020: Updated for iOS 13.

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.

1 Comment
  • I want to have a iPhone 12 as my primary phone and use a smaller android phone for certain activities. I would like to have all texts be sent to both phones, so with T Mobile I can use DIGITS for SMS, but not for iMessage, . to have things sent to both phones. I am having some issues with AirMessage, a service that says it can forward iMessages. If I just turn off iMessage can I get texts on both my iPhone and Android and not lose anything in the process?