Messages has grown into a potent instant messaging tool. Messages can handle SMS messages, Apple’s own iMessage messages, and voice messages. Messages
lets you add visual effects to messages, and developers can create apps that integrate with Messages.
Understand Core Messages Concepts
SMS (Short Message System) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging System) are methods of sending short text messages (or, for MMS, text messages with multimedia
attachments) over a cellular network. They’re fast and convenient, but SMS limits text to 160 characters, these methods work only between cellular phones
(except with Apple’s
Text Message Forwarding
), and some phone carriers charge per message (or provide a limited number of messages per month, charging for any above that limit).
Tip: You can choose the tone that’s played when a message arrives in Settings > Sounds (or Sounds & Haptics) > Text Tone.
iMessage is Apple’s alternative to SMS and MMS. iMessage allows encrypted messages of unlimited length, those messages are sent over a standard internet
connection, and messages can be sent and received by the Messages app on any recent iOS device or Mac. Also, iMessage isn’t just tied to your phone number—you
can associate it with other phone numbers and even email addresses. The downside is that it works only with other iMessage users—when you send a message
to someone who doesn’t use iMessage, it falls back to SMS and MMS.
Note: Messages displays SMS/MMS messages in green bubbles and iMessages in blue bubbles.
Here are the basics of using Messages:
• Enable or disable iMessage: Go to Settings > Messages and turn on the iMessage switch.
• Set send and receive addresses: In Settings > Messages, tap Send & Receive. Select your iPhone number and any email addresses where you want to receive
iMessages (messages arrive in the Messages app, not your email). Still on the Send & Receive screen, specify the phone number or email address from which
you want your iMessages to originate.
• Share your name and photo: You can choose to share a specific name and avatar photo with contacts in Settings > Messages > Share Name and Photo. This
changes how you appear to other iMessage users.
Text Message Forwarding
Your iPhone can forward SMS/MMS “green bubble” messages to other iOS devices (running at least iOS 8) without a phone plan, along with Macs running at
least 10.10 Yosemite:
1. Sign in to Messages on your iPhone and the other device with the same Apple ID. (On a Mac, choose Messages > Preferences > iMessage.)
2. On the iPhone, open Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding and turn on the switch for the device you want to forward messages to.
3. That may be all that’s necessary, but if a code appears on the other device, enter it on the iPhone.
This can work over a cellular connection as well, if your carrier supports it.
• Decide about read receipts: Adjust the Send Read Receipts switch, depending on whether want to send read receipts, which tell those you’re conversing
with if you’ve read their messages.
Tip: If an iMessage fails to send successfully from an iPhone with a phone plan, Messages can automatically send it as an SMS text message instead, if
you turn on Send as SMS in Settings > Messages.
• Consider Messages in the Cloud: You can turn on Messages in Settings > Your Name > iCloud to choose to store your Messages in iCloud. When you do so,
those messages count against your iCloud storage quota, which you can view in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage, but they’re no longer included
in iCloud backups, so if you use iCloud to back up multiple iOS devices, it will likely save you space (see
). Also, your messages sync more reliably and if you delete a message on one device, it disappears from all of them.
Tip: You can block contacts from messaging, calling, or attempting to FaceTime you. Go to Settings > Messages > Blocked Contacts to see who you’re blocking
or add an unwanted contact to the list. You can also turn on Filter Unknown Senders in Settings > Messages to avoid notifications from spammers.
Send a Message
Messages gives you a bewildering number of ways to send messages, all the way from simple text messages to voice messages, video messages, hand-drawn messages—you
Starting a Simple Message
Let’s start with the basics:
1. In the Messages app, tap the Compose icon.
2. Start typing a contact name, email address, or phone number in the To field. You can keep typing or tap to accept a suggestion.
3. Enter your note in the message field and tap the Send icon.
Once a message thread is created, tap it in Messages to open it, tap the message field, and type your message as described above.
Tip: An unread message is marked in the Messages view with a colored dot on its left. To mark all chats as read, go to the Messages view, tap the ellipsis
button, tap Manage Messages List, and then tap Read All.
Use Emojis in Messages
Emojis are fun, but digging through the emoji picker isn’t. The QuickType bar suggests emojis as you type. Tap one of the suggestions to
replace the current word with that emoji.
While you type in Messages, the QuickType bar suggests emojis.
Add Bubble and Screen Effects
Messages lets you add bubble and screen effects. Bubble effects affect just the message bubble while screen effects are displayed all over the conversation.
To view effects, touch and hold the Send icon. Switch between the two types of effects with the bar at the top of the screen:
• Use Bubble Effects: Tap the dot next to a bubble effect to see a preview. Tap the Send icon to send your message with that effect, or back out with
the cancel button.
• Use Screen Effects: Swipe to switch between screen effect previews. Tap the Send icon to send your message with that effect. Tap the cancel button
Tip: Tell someone “happy birthday” or “happy new year” and see what happens!
Take Photos and Apply Camera Effects
Tap the camera icon to the left of the message field to open the Camera app inside Messages. But the Camera app inside Messages has a few differences
from the standalone app: it displays the Camera Effects button as you’re taking the picture, and after you take a photo it displays buttons to add Camera
Effects , edit the photo , mark it up , or attach it to a message . If you tap Done in the upper-right corner, Camera places the photo in the message
without sending it.
Refer to my article
Send and Listen to Voice Messages
You can exchange audio messages with users of iOS 8 or later, users of Mac OS X 10.10 El Capitan or later, and Apple Watch wearers.
Press and hold the audio icon to the right of the message box (it appears only when there’s nothing in the message box). When a controller bar appears,
recording starts, and you see an audio wave and a timer to the left. Don’t lift your finger until you’re done recording. Let go of the icon to stop recording.
Tap the Play button for a preview, delete the recording by tapping the delete icon, or send it by tapping the arrow .
To hear a voice message you’ve received, tap its Play button ( Figure 57 ). Alternatively, simply hold the iPhone up to your ear.
To listen to a voice message, tap the Play button.
Note: After playback, voice messages disappear after 2 minutes. Change that in Settings > Messages > Expire.
Write a Message by Hand
To add a personal touch, you can send a handwritten note:
• Enter handwriting mode: Tap the Handwriting key on the keyboard—you may have to rotate the device to landscape orientation first.
• Write a note: Draw on the screen with your finger, a stylus, or (on newer iPads) an Apple Pencil.
• Scroll around the canvas: Drag with two fingers.
• Leave handwriting mode: Tap Done to finish your note and insert it in the message. Tap the Keyboard icon to discard the note.
• Insert previous or predefined notes: On the iPhone, tap one of the scripts at the bottom of the screen. On the iPad, tap the History icon to reveal
previous and predefined notes.
Reply with Tapback
Tapback lets you respond quickly to messages without typing: Touch, hold, and release a message bubble to reveal a popover with tapback icons. Tap one
to add it to a message
Tap a tapback icon to apply it to a message.
You can have only one tapback response on a message at a time, but you can change it later. Also, you can remove a tapback by opening the popover again
and tapping on the current tapback icon.
Discover Messages Apps
Developers can create apps for Messages—it even has its own App Store! While the keyboard is hidden, you can tap icons below the message field to activate
an app. It also appears in the QuickType bar if you haven’t started typing yet. Otherwise, tap the App Store icon to access Messages apps.
Use Messages Apps
Here’s how to use Messages apps:
1. If the app drawer isn’t showing, tap the App Store icon to the left of the message field.
2. Tap an app in the app drawer. If the app isn’t showing, swipe left and right to view more apps.
Tapping and holding the app drawer enlarges it and lets you swipe to see more apps.
If the app isn’t in the app drawer, tap More to show all apps. You can favorite apps in this view to make them always available in the app drawer. Tap
Edit and tap the green plus button or red delete button to add or remove apps from favorites.
You can also delete apps in the More view by swiping left on an app and tapping Remove from Favorites.
3. After you tap an app, it displays in Messages, where the keyboard usually is. Tap an icon to insert it in your message. You can also make an app fullscreen
by swiping up on the drawer.
Built-In Messages Apps
Messages includes a few apps to get you started:
• Photos: Apple’s built-in Photos app can share photos from your library.
• Apple Pay Cash: You can use Apple Pay to send other iMessage users money. See Apple’s
• Animoji: On the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR you can use motion capture to create animations. See Apple’s article
• #images: The #images app lets you add funny animated GIFs to your messages. You can use the search bar to find specific ones. It suggests GIFs based
on trends and your recent conversations.
• Digital Touch: This app lets you use Apple Watch-style messaging features on iOS.
• Music: If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can send recently played tracks to your friends. However, they can play the full song only if they also subscribe
to Apple Music.
• Recents: This meta-app displays recently used items across all Messages apps.
• Store: This is the Messages App Store, where you can download apps that work in the Messages app.
Some Messages apps offer stickers, which you can tap to insert into a message, or place on top of messages by tapping, holding, and dragging them onto
the message bubble.
Note: Stickers are annoying and you should never use them.
Unfortunately, they’re a pain to remove:
1. Touch and hold a placed sticker.
2. Tap Sticker Details.
3. On the Sticker Details screen, swipe the sticker you want to delete from right to left to reveal Delete.
4. Tap Delete.
Tip: It’s impossible to tell just by looking when a Messages app icon is a sticker. Try touching and holding on icons to see if they pop free.
Manage Message Details
While viewing a Messages chat, tap the recipient’s name at the top of the screen followed by the info icon to uncover the Details view, which contains
a host of capabilities that apply to both group and individual chats.
Deal with Groups
Certain options are displayed only in a group message:
• Name a group: Tap Enter a Group Name to label the group message. The group name replaces the participants’ names at the top of the chat’s thread and
in the chat’s entry in your messages list.
• Leave a group chat: You can leave a group chat that just won’t end. Tap Leave this Conversation; you may have to scroll down to find it.
Tip: If Leave this Conversation is dimmed, enable Hide Alerts instead so you won’t receive notifications from the thread.
• Add a contact to a chat: Not only can you leave an ongoing conversation, but you can also invite someone else to it. Tap Add Contact.
• Mute a chat: To remain in the chat but stop receiving a notification each time a new message arrives, enable Hide Alerts.
Manage All Attachments
All chat attachments appear in a grid in Details view. Attachments are split into multiple sections, like photos, links, locations, and attachments.
Here’s how to work with Messages attachments:
• Save and share images and attachments: Tap an image or attachment to open it. Tap the Share icon and either choose Save Image or Save to Files or another
place to send the image or attachment.
• Delete images and attachments: Touch and hold an image or attachment and tap Delete on the popover.
Automatically Delete Messages
Tired of message attachments taking up lots of storage space? By default, messages are kept forever. But go to Settings > Messages > Keep Messages, and
you can tell Messages to delete individual messages and attachments after 30 days or 1 year.
However, audio messages are a different story. By default, they self-destruct after 2 minutes, but you can opt to keep them forever in Settings > Messages
Share Your Location
It can often be useful to share you physical location with others. Here’s how:
• Share your location once: Tap Send My Current Location to send a map showing your current location to the chat.
Message participants can tap the attachment that appears to open a Maps-like view of your location. From that view, they can start navigating toward you
by tapping Directions To Here.
• Share your location over time: Tap Share My Location to let message participants monitor your location for 1 hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely.
Message participants can view a map of your location in the Details view. They can tap the map for more location-related options.
Sharing your location over time shares it with the people in the chat, not just within the chat itself. Chat members can see your location in the Find
My app (see
) and in any other chats you have with them.
Tip: To see who you’re currently sharing your location with, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Share My Location.