I still prefer WhatsApp, you know.

But then, I’ve had my share of iMessage frustrations and worked around them so there’s a bit of interesting stuff going on there. iMessages is supposed to be fun and simple but in its attempts to be too smart, it goes way over the board and ends up being a painful sort of a feature.

For most users, it works just fine. You enable it, and then it gets activated and then your Apple ID and your number get listed. You start conversations with fellow iPhone/Mac/iPad/iPod users and it goes fine.

iMessage Not Working

For a handful of others – or may be much more than that – iMessage is just pure mayhem. It doesn’t get activated (gets stuck at the ‘Waiting for activation‘ screen), doesn’t get delivered, gets sent as an email, you don’t get iMessages (or you get them as emails instead)…

The list of problems is endless. We’ll try to tackle a few of them here.

(Before you jump in, check out the fix for ‘Waiting for activation…’ issue)

1. iMessage Not Delivered
You send an iMessage to a fellow iPhone user and it doesn’t get delivered at all. (There’s this dreaded red exclamation mark popping up, right?) This can mean:

  • There’s something wrong with your iMessage account
  • You don’t have any data left (remember, iMessage works on Wifi/cellular) and you haven’t enabled Send as SMS
  • There’s some issue at the recipient’s end

The Fix:

  • First off, make sure you’ve got data left in your plan. Checked?
  • Check if you’re sending to a contact with just an email ID or a number. I once had two listings for the same contact: one had both the email and the number and the other had just the number. When I sent an iMessage to the number, it got delivered as a text message.
  • Most of your contacts who are on iMessage are going to have their Apple ID (which is going to be an email ID) listed. Send your iMessages to contacts with email IDs.
  • Enable Send as SMS under Settings -> Messages so that when iMessage fails, the message gets delivered as SMS. Of course, make sure you don’t overshoot your text allocation.
  • If there’s still the red exclamation button, tap and hold on the message. You’ll get an option that says Send as Text Message. Tap this.

Send as Text Message

2. iMessage Sent as Text
You’re trying to send an iMessage but it keeps getting sent as text (green bubble instead of blue bubble). You’ve tried every thing on the FAQs but it just doesn’t work. And of course, iMessage is activated. What do you do?

  • First thing you try is turn off and then restart iMessage. May be servers are jammed, Cupertino club is down.. you know, that sort of a thing.
  • Turn off Send as SMS and try sending the message to your contact (who, you’re sure, is on iMessage).Send as SMS - Off
  • There’s a big chance that you’ll see that red-exclamation mark or if not, it gets sent as email to your contact. To fix this, you’ll have to go back to square one: make sure there’s data, make sure you’re on a network, make sure your ‘Send & Receive’ is complete and you’ve selected both your number and email.

Info Completed

Alternatively, you can also click on the Apple ID and sign-out so there’s only your number. Try sending iMessage now.

3. iMessage Sent from Email Instead of Number
This takes directly from the last point. You have both your number and email listed under your iMessage account. You have the option of starting conversations from your email ID or from your number.

Most of the time, I’d prefer the number route because in case my friends’ reply isn’t coming through, I’ll get a text message instead of an email if I was using an email ID. But if you’re unable to start conversations with your number, you try this:

  • Go to Settings -> Messages
  • Tap on Send & Receive
  • Click on the Apple ID on top
  • Sign Out

Sign Out Apple ID

When you sign out, the email number vanishes from the list and there’s only your number now. Whenever you start a conversation on iMessage, it’s your number henceforth.

Disable Apple ID Select Only Number

4. iMessage Not Working at All
There are a ton of things you might want to check out. These include:

  • Data plan
  • A working network
  • iMessage not activated, perhaps?
  • Issues with Apple ID. Use a newly created one
  • Make sure the recipient is on iMessage and active

  • Karen

    daughter reset phone and now imesage won’t reactivate, please help

  • Inessa

    Every time I get an iMessage, and my iPod is locked, I will get the notification, but instead of me being able to see what that person texted me while my iPod is locked, it just says iMessage and I will have to unlock my iPod so I can see what that person actually texted me. I know u can change this on settings but I can’t seem to be able to find out how to. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP

    • Carly

      Under Notifications select Messages and at the bottom turn on Show Previews

  • KarlR

    I am a casual (relief) teacher who uses (not by choice) a text message booking service. Recently I found that some schools when trying to book me weren’t receiving my text messages responding to their booking requests. This morning I received a booking which I responded to twice without getting an acknowledgement. I then went in & deactivated iMessage & responded again. They received my third (non-iMessage) response but by then it was too late & I missed out on a days work. I spoke to the support at the booking service who confirmed they only received the third response. What makes this even more infuriating is the fact that all of my responses were coloured green so there was no indication that any had failed, & it was only on a hunch that I decided to turn iMessage off & speak to the Support at the booking service. Each time this has happened it has cost me over $300 in wages. Thanks Apple.

  • Anthony99202

    I have issues with sending i messages? I send them they are blue but not always say delivered. Does this mean they are delivered? Because there is no red exclamation mark or do you need the “delivered” status?

  • Karen Bauer

    Apple Support just fixed this problem for me. After installing the new iOS, Yosemite, I couldn’t text some of my Contacts. I could do it from my iPhone 4S, but not from my MacBook. On iPhone, go into Settings, Messages, Text Message Forwarding, and slide the toggle switch so it goes to your Mac. That did it for me!

  • Karen

    Only one of my contacts is stuck sending text instead of iMessage . Why is this?

    • Matt

      I have the same issue. Extremely frustrating. I understand why it may have been sent first time as text. But now there is no way to switch back to iMessage for that person.

  • Graham

    I dearly wish for an option to mark a contact as “cannot receive iMessage, send as text always” – whether it’s their fault or mine, or they live in outer mongolia; I just want to choose.

  • LEE G


    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      Looks like you’ve added her Apple ID to your number or she’s added your
      Apple ID to her number. Try this on your iPhone: log out of iMessage
      (from Settings -> Messages) and then disable it. Then enable it and
      login to your Apple ID. Do the same on your wife’s iPhone but there, use
      her Apple ID.

  • Shane Willey

    My friend like mega-spammed me on my iPod, and now there’s a “!” Notification on my app. Every time I open it, it’s a blank screen, and then it exits to home.

    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      guess that mega-spam thing actually screwed up your Messages app.
      Unfortunately, I dont know if it’s possible to set things right without
      erasing messages out of your iPhone!

      • Laura

        I’ve done all of those things and that one contact I put send as text message ONE TIME won’t go back to iMessage.

        • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

          May be you have to re-activate iMessage by turning it off and on again.
          Before this, make sure that the person you are sending iMessage to does
          not have any issues with receiving an iMessage. May be errors at their
          end are making your messages be sent as text. Rare, but happens.