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A User-Friendly Guide to Understanding iMessage


iMessage is a popular messaging application built with iPhones, Macs, iPads, and Apple Watches. If you are new to the Apple family, here’s what you must know about iMessage.

What is iMessage?

iMessage is a secure, free messaging application for your iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch. It was introduced with the release of iOS 5, and over the years, it has evolved to let users send more than text messages. You can send photos, videos, and stickers to other Apple device users over the Internet. 

Is iMessage Different from the Default Messaging App?

Yes, iMessage differs from the texting app that is usually used as the default messaging app on most devices, including iPhones and iPads. iMessage requires Wi-Fi or an active Internet connection to work. 

Also, iMessage exclusively works on Apple devices. On the other hand, SMS/MMS can be sent to any device. 

Here’s a table discussing the differences between iMessage and SMS. 

iMessage  SMS
Exclusively available on Apple devices.  Available on virtually every tablet and phone in the world. 
Contains end-to-end encryption.  Doesn’t contain end-to-end encryption. 
Send text messages, photos and videos.  Send photos and texts. 
Appear in blue text bubbles.  Appear in green text bubbles. 
Messages or media files are sent over Wi-Fi or cellular data networks.  To send messages, you need a text-messaging plan. May have to contact your wireless carrier. 


How to Activate iMessage?

To use iMessage on your Apple devices, you must activate it. Then, head to the Settings app > Messages > turn on iMessage. 

During activation, you might see one of these error messages:

  • iMessage stuck on waiting for activation 
  • Activation unsuccessful 
  • Unable to connect to the iMessage server. Try again. 
  • An error occurred during the activation 
  • Cannot sign in, please check your network connection 

When this happens, you can solve the issue by trying these steps:

  • Ensure you are connected to a Wi-Fi network or have an active cellular data plan on your device. 
  • iPhone users must send an SMS to activate iMessage with their phone number, and your carrier may charge you for this SMS. So, ensure you have an active messaging plan on your phone. 
  • Turn off and restart iMessage by going to the Settings app. 
  • Toggle Airplane mode on and off to solve the issue. 
  • Check the date and time zone by going to the Settings app > General > Date & Time > toggle Set Automatically on. 

What are the Beneficial Features of iMessage?

  • The messages are kept private with end-to-end encryption
  • Thanks to message delivery confirmation, you can find out if the receiver has received your message or media files. Also, you can know if someone has read your messages with read receipts. 
  • Real-time typing dots inform users that someone is typing a message. 
  • Location sharing is possible with other iMessage users. 
  • When you’re tired of typing, you can send voice memos to your friends or family. 
  • The app includes interactive multimedia options in the form of GIFs, stickers, and music. These can add sparkle to your conversations. 
  • You can undo send messages on iMessage or edit messages after they are sent. 
  • Merge your Apple Pay account with iMessage to send or receive secure payments from your contacts. 
  • You can drag and drop media files to other messages by opening the conversation. 
  • Messages can be sent with effects, such as the Screen Effect or Bubble Effect. 
  • Important conversations can be pinned to the top, so you don’t have to look for them. 

As iMessage uses Wi-Fi or cellular data to send and receive messages and media files, it is the ideal application to chat with your family and friends living abroad. This app saves you from spending on an expensive international plan to stay in contact with your loved ones. 

Furthermore, iMessage syncs to the cloud. So, if you get a new iPhone, you can get all the messages on your new device. 

iMessage Tips and Tricks 

Get the most out of the iMessage application by following these hacks:

  • The Shared With You feature has been introduced in iMessage with the iOS 15 update. You can hide this feature for a specific person and prevent the content shared by that person from showing up in the respective application. Open Messages > choose the conversation with the content you want to hide > select the name on top > toggle off Show in Shared With You. 
  • Enable Communication Safety to ensure the messages and media file attachments are appropriate for children. 
  • If you use multiple phone numbers or email addresses, you can choose your preferred one with iMessage. Go to the Settings app > Messages > Send & Receive > choose which email or phone you wish to start new conversations with. 

Similarly, you can hide your name or photo in iMessage, hide read receipts for specific persons or everybody, type in bold letters, etc. To discover all the different hacks and features, you must explore the iMessage app and start using it as your default messaging app. 


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