On macOS, Messages has several of the fun effects that can be found on its iOS counterpart to help liven up your conversations. However, Messages for Mac isn't quite the same app as Messages for iPhone and iPad, with a number of effects left out of this version that have made their way to the mobile app.
Using this guide, find out what you can do, what you can't do, and how you can work around some of the limitations of Messages for macOS with other apps and tools.
Messages features you can use in macOS
Here's what you currently can do with Messages and macOS.
Rather than simply displaying a link when you paste it in an iMessage conversation, now Messages generates a slick preview of the link, including a headline and a photo. Messages also allows you to watch YouTube videos from within your conversation as well.
Emoji are now three times larger than they have previously been. The emoji you send will appear this size when you send three or fewer characters.
Tapbacks are quick reactions that you can attach to message bubbles. You can select from the following: heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, 'Ha Ha', '!!', or '?'.
What's missing from Messages in macOS
Unfortunately, while Messages on iOS has features like bubble and screen effects to add extra flavor to your messages, these effects have yet to make their way to the Mac.
Also absent from Messages in macOS are stickers and iMessage apps. These features require the iMessage App Store, and as such, it's not surprising to see them excluded — still, their absence is felt, especially when iPhone- and iPad-touting friends send a constant barrage of stickers. That said, you can still take advantage of services, apps, and utilities to bring a little more fun to Messages on the Mac.
Giphy puts thousands of GIFs right at your fingertips that you can easily share with friends and family just as you would any other image. Just bookmark the site, then head there and search to find the right GIF for your conversation.
Just like its counterpart for iPhone and iPad, GIF Keyboard for Mac lets you quickly search for GIFs and add them to any conversation. The app lives in your Mac's Menu bar, and you can just drag and drop your chosen GIF into any message thread in any app you want, including Messages.
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This is a useful little utility that makes adding emoji to your messages quick and easy. Just type your trigger character (':' by default), and follow it with the name of the emoji you want to use. You can download it for free, then upgrade for $3.99 for access to custom emoji phrases, GIF support, and more.
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But what about my apps?
If you've been using iMessage apps on your iPhone, you might be wondering what you can do to get those apps on your Mac. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that iMessage apps will be making their way to macOS anytime soon. For now, you'll need to head to the websites for OpenTable, Fandango, and Square Cash, among others, in order to make use of these services on your Mac.
If you have any questions about using effects in Messages on macOS, be sure to let us know!
Updated January 2020: Up-to-date for macOS Catalina.
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