How to Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Error on iPhone

Update: If you’re facing iMessage activation errors in iOS 7, here’s what you can try to fix it.

Tired of iMessage waiting for activation issue? Or is it just draining the last ounce of patience left in you?


Despite our ‘been there done that’ experience, we’re equally skeptic about how to activate iMessage. Sometimes it works just perfectly, but sometimes it drives us crazy. There are quite a lot of fixes recommended almost everywhere but most of it doesn’t work. That’s what prompted us to test with a lot of iPhones and we ended up activating iMessage successfully.

Before You Start To Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Issue

Before you start trying out all these methods to get iMessage activated, you’ll need to sort these things out:

  • Make sure in the Phone app, you’ve got your number listed. On top of ‘Contacts’ you should see your number listed (My Number:). If not, you’ll need to go to Settings -> Phone -> My Number and enter your number.
  • Make sure Date & Time (under General) are correct. Set to ‘Set Automatically’ make sure the Time Zone is correct and the iPhone holds the right time.
  • Also make sure you’ve got a working network. Wi-fi issues can cause iMessage activation problems so have cellular enabled.
    For some users, the message sent out for activation goes out as an international SMS. Make sure your carrier permits these and you have sufficient amount to send them.

iMessage Waiting for Activation Error


1. Airplane Mode
As strange as it sounds, may be you should try this method if nothing else works. We found the airplane mode activation mode in one of the discussions. It sounds simple and if it solves, that’d be good, right?

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Turn off iMessage (and FaceTime)
Step 2: Turn on the Airplane mode. Wifi will be turned OFF automatically.
Step 3: Turn ON Wifi
Step 4: Head back to Messages and turn ON iMessage
Step 5: You’ll be prompted for your Apple ID if you haven’t added it yet. (else, you don’t get any notification)
Step 6: Now, head back to Settings and turn OFF Airplane mode.
Step 7: Mostly, you’ll be shown a notification that says ‘Your carrier may charge for SMS’ – Tap on OK
Step 8: If not, go to Messages, turn OFF iMessage and then turn it ON again.
Step 9: In a short while, iMessage should get activated.
Step 10: You’ll see a greyed out number and an email ID. A little later, the number should be checked and that’s it.

(This worked for us, seriously.)

More discussion at Apple’s forum

2. Apple ID Sign-out, Sign-in
Sometimes, you just need to sign-out of your Apple ID and then login again.

Step 1: Under Settings -> Message, scroll down to where it says ‘Send & Receive’ and tap on it
Step 2: Tap on the Apple ID and then press Sign Out
Step 3: Switch off iMessage now
Step 4: Wait for a while (turn on/off Wifi) and then switch ON iMessage
Step 5: Enter your Apple ID details now and try to reactivate iMessage

Activate iMessage on iPhone

3. Reset, Or Restore
If things don’t work, you’ll first need to reset your location settings, then the iPhone. Reset is just a forced reboot so your data remains safe. After the reset, you’ll just login with your Apple ID and set up iMessage as new.

Should this fail, you might have to restore the iPhone as new or from a backup.

Apple tries to let users enjoy a seamless iMessage experience but one thing that’s clear is that setting up and activating iMessage doesn’t usually work smoothly for all users. Try these methods and let us know if any of it worked. And we’re looking for more solutions too so let us know.

  • ArubaMac

    #1 and #2 didn’t work for me. And I’m bit ready to Ho through the trouble of wiping/restoring!

    I’ll see whether apple techs have another solutions.

    Thx for s recommendations though.

  • goobers

    neither worked, i dont want to restore to factory settings but i’m almost ready to. it will not verify my phone number (all grey digits) in FaceTime and wont even show the number in the iMessage

    • iGeeksBlog

      Sometimes, you might need to wait a full day before re-activating
      iMessage using your number. If that still doesn’t work, restore is the
      only option imho.

  • Egor Danilenko

    Thank you soooo muuuuch! It works for me!!