How to Force a Message to be sent as SMS on iPhone or iPad

iMessage is a great way to communicate without blowing your text quota. But there are times when it just won’t work. You see the “Sending…” text and the blue loader (line) trying to inch its way to completion but that never happens. Your message doesn’t get delivered at all.

These are times when you wish the message would just go. At least, as SMS. How do you force a message to be sent as SMS if it fails to deliver as iMessage? That’s what we’re looking at.

How to Force a Message to be sent as SMS (and not iMessage) on iPhone or iPad

Within the Messages settings, there’s an option called Send as SMS. When enabled, if your iPhone fails to send an iMessage, it will switch to SMS and send the message as normal text.

Step #1. Go to Settings and Tap on Messages.

Tap on Settings then Messages on iPhone or iPad

Step #2. Turn On the Switch next to “Send as SMS.”

Force a Message to be sent as SMS

There’s a big catch here which most of us don’t realize.

The Send as SMS triggers only when your iPhone is unable to connect to the iMessage server (possibly due to network issues at your end or server issues at Apple’s end).

Only under these two conditions, iMessage fails and sends the message as SMS instead. Automatically.

But if the recipient – who is usually on iMessage – has switched off iMessage or is out of network coverage that enables iMessage, the sending process hangs from your end.

This is because iMessage assumes to be working fine (which it is, from your end but not from the recipient’s end).

In that case, you have the option of force sending the message as SMS by doing this:

Step #1. Tap and hold on the message being sent.

Step #2. From the options menu that shows, tap on Send as Text Message.

Step #3. Your iMessage will now be sent as a text message. (carrier charges may apply if you are not on a text plan)

Incidentally, when the iMessage fails to send, it shows up as Not Delivered with a “!” sign. Tapping on that icon will also allow you to send the message as text.

How to Force iMessage to be sent as Text Message

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Dhvanesh Adhiya
The founder of iGeeksBlog, Dhvanesh, is an Apple aficionado, who cannot stand even a slight innuendo about Apple products. He dons the cap of editor-in-chief to make sure that articles match the quality standard before they are published.


  1. problem is some of us have limited phone plans and don’t have mobile data turned on. that’s why some people can’t receive imessages while out about using their iphones. the other issue, is that imessages get delivered to our ipads and ipods at home (via wifi), so the sender thinks we’ve received the message!

    only way round this is to find out which of your friends/family aren’t on mobile data and send as sms text messages (via phone service provider) instead of imessages (via wifi or mobile data).

    So, the reliable way to do this across all iphones and iOS’s??… go talk to your local apple people – either over the phone or instore.

  2. I hate iMessage, but have to have it on since some of my contacts send them. This also does not always work for me either similar to CJ. I have to go into Setting, Messages and turn OFF iMessage, go back into Text and send my text, then go back and turn iMessage ON. Does anyone still pay by-the-text any more; doesn’t everyone have an unlimited texting plan?!? Texting was not “broke” and no need to have this function as a “fix” or convenience. It’s not a convenience.

    • Eileen, if you turn off iMessage on your phone, others with iPhones will not be able to iMessage you. The iPhone can tell if you have iMessage set up and if you don’t, it will only send standard texts to your iPhone.

  3. This doesn’t work for me… if I hold down an iMessage it only gives me the option to forward a message to someone else or delete that particular message. What the french?

  4. Does anyone have the slightest idea how it’s done in IOS8?
    I’ve been using the method of holding down “Send”button until it flashed beneath my finger to change from iMessage to SMS (and back) before sending a message under iOS 7, but it doesn’t do anything in iOS 8 -( no flashing and no way to force the other sending method as far as I know (besides disabling iMessage under Preferences).

    Oh well, I found the answer myself.
    The approved answer on this discussion ) states, that the feature has been removed in iOS 8. Could there be a Cydia tweak doing the magic?

      • Du you mean, I should
        1) tap on the »Send« text, that’s just sending my iMessage as an iMessage
        2) tap the message?
        a) Before it’s send, it let’s me Copy, Paste etc
        b) After it has been send, it lets me Copy and More – More just let me delete or forward to another recipient.

        can’t tap the »Send«-text while it’s sending to see, if anything
        changes; since tha’s just disappearing too fast/sending too fast.

        I’m still looking for the old iOS 7 way to hold the »Send«-text to make
        it change between iMesage and SMS before the sending actually took

        Sorry if I’m to slow uderstanding, what you meant.


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