Welcome to our complete guide to Messages in iOS 10, in which we explain how to use all the new features that Apple added to Messages in its latest software update. For more general tips on getting more out of an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10, take a look at our iOS 10 tips feature.

Apple's new iOS 10 software update for iPad and iPhone, which was recently released to the public following the reveal of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plusincludes a flurry of new features. In this article we specifically look at the updates that affect the Messages app, and its wide range of new visual effects and features.

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How to use Messages in iOS 10: Install iOS 10

Before trying the new Messages app, you'll have to be on the new iOS 10 operating system. To run iOS 10 you need to first have a compatible device: sadly for those on older devices, the iPad 2 and iPad 3, iPad mini 1, iPhone 4s and fifth-gen iPod touch aren't compatible with the latest iOS update.

Therefore, to run iOS 10 you'll need an iPad 4 or later, an iPad mini 2 or later, an iPhone 5 or later, or the sixth-gen iPod touch.

For detailed advice on installing iOS 10, see our dedicated article: How to get iOS 10 on your iPhone or iPad.

How to use Messages in iOS 10: New iOS

How to use Messages in iOS 10: Requirements

In order to use the new features in the Messages app you have to be using iMessage. This comes from the extra features adding a visual layer to your messages. You can of course still try and send your iMessage as an SMS, but be warned that it will convert to an MMS and you will be charged from your carrier.

How to use Messages in iOS 10: SMS & MMS

To fully utilise the new features in the latest Messages update, you have to use iMessage.

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How to use Messages in iOS 10: New Features

There is a large array of new features in the new Messages app on iOS 10 - here's a list:

  • Written text can be automatically converted to an Emoji 
  • New bubble animations
  • Handwriting capabilities and personalisation
  • Fullscreen iMessage animations
  • Conceal images or text behind an invisible message
  • Tapback feature to quickly and visually respond to a message
  • New stickers on iMessage speech bubbles
  • Search for images and videos directly through Messages
  • Website preview in Messages
  • Take pictures directly from Messages
  • Listen to Apple Music directly in Messages>

That's a big and diverse list of new features! Don't worry, we'll show you how to use them all.


You can now automatically replace text with an emoji by tapping on the smiley face button located at the bottom left-hand corner of the keyboard within the Messages app.

Once you've tapped the icon, the Messages app will automatically highlight words found in your message that can be associated with an emoji, using an orangey-gold colour. If there are multiple different options, Apple will give you a selection of emoji to choose from; if there's only one option, it will automatically convert it to that.

For example: 'football' gives you the option of the British (correct) and American (incorrect) understandings of that word - see below. Whereas tapping an oranged-out 'aubergine' will automatically replace it with a a picture of that delicious food.

Read next: How to use emoji | What is emoji?

How to use Messages in iOS 10: Emoji

iMessage bubble animations

If you want to get your message across with a bit more impact, give the animated bubble effects a try.

First, write your message. But instead of tapping the blue arrow to send your iMessage, tap and hold the arrow (or use a Force Press, if you've got 3D Touch) instead. You will now be presented with four options: slam, loud, gentle, and invisible ink.

The four options provide different bubble styles. Slam, as the name suggests, places the message in your conversation with a slap-on effect animation. Loud wiggles the message and enlarges the font. Gentle writes the message in a small font and then slowly reverts back to the default size font, and finally the invisible option hides the message so that your receiver has to swipe across the message to reveal it - useful for surprises or sensitive information you wish to share.

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How to fix iMessage bubble animations in iOS 10

iOS 10's launch wasn't without its issues. (For more on these, see our iOS 10 troubleshooting tips article.) Many flocked to social media to complain about the update 'bricking' their iPhones and iPads, with Apple acknowledging and fixing the issue within hours of it being reported. However even once users could access iOS 10, some found that the all-new Messages app wasn't working as advertised.

More specifically, while users could send the various message animations availabe in iOS 10, they couldn't receive them. Thankfully, there are two methods that affected users can try that should fix the issue. Method 1 is to do with disabling an accessibility option that many enabled way back when iOS 7 was first introduced called "Reduce Motion".

Reduce Motion does exactly what it says on the tin - it reduces the amount of motion on your iPhone, mainly with regards to parralaxing home screen wallpapers and similar features. However it also reduces motion on incoming messages, thereby disabling the effect from playing on your iPhone. To disable the feature, head to Settings > Accessibility > Reduce Motion and make sure it's toggled off. 

While this fixes the issue for the majority of users, some still can't receive iOS 10 message effects. The last option available to users at the time of writing is to toggle iMessage off and on in the Settings menu, which should kick-start those message animations. This can be done by heading to Settings > Messages and toggling iMessage off and on.

However it's worth mentioning that a small number of users still can't receive iMessage animations, simply displaying "(sent with Slam Effect)" instead of displaying the effect itself. Unfortunately for those users, it looks like Apple might have to release an update at its end with a fix. If you've had and fixed the issue using a technique we haven't mentioned, drop us a message in the comment section. 


If you're looking to handwrite personal messages or even take a photo/video of something and add annotations to it, you'll be able to do so through the new feature within Messages.

To activate the feature, tap on the heart icon on the left-hand side of the text field box and you'll be presented with a small black pallet allowing you to draw or interact with your iOS device by drawing or sending animated gestures. If you want to use your camera, press on the small arrow on the right-hand side of the new section and you'll be given the option to take a photo by clicking on the small video logo on the left-hand side of the screen.

From here you can record or take a photo with your camera and animated it by drawing something on your screen.

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Full-screen iMessage animations

If you want to give your message a little more emphasis, you can also add a fullscreen animation. To do this, write your message and just like the bubble animations, tap and hold the blue arrow button and instead of selecting the bubble option, tap on the 'Screen' effect at the top and your iOS device will playback various different animations.

From here, swipe to the sides and you'll have the option to choose from different background animations. Your receiver will see a fullscreen animation upon opening the iMessage.

How to use Messages in iOS 10 - Background

Conceal images or text behind an invisible message

To hide an image or text behind a message tap and hold the blue arrow icon before sending across your iMessage and you'll have the option to select the invisible option. This will conceal your message and will require your recipient to swipe their finger over the message before being able to view it.

This feature is useful if you want to hide something from those trying to look over your recipient's shoulders or to provide an element of surprise.

Read next: How to sync iMessage conversations on iPhone, iPad and Mac

Tapback feature to quickly and visually respond to a message

The Tapback feature is the Apple equivalent to Facebook's like options. To use the feature, simply double tap on an iMessage and you'll be presented with a heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, 'Haha', two exclamation marks, and a question mark. This enables you to quickly respond to a message without having to type any text.

How to use Messages in iOS 10 - Tapback

New stickers on iMessage speech bubbles

Adding fun-loving stickers to your messages is easy. Tap on compass icon and you will be presented with various stickers which you can add on top of bubbles, photos or even on top of another sticker!

The stickers can be found through the App Store and be utilised through iMessage. By default you'll get Classic Mac icons.

Search for images and videos directly through Messages

Upon tapping on the compass icon, you can also find images on the web by searching for them through Messages. 

To find the search option, swipe between tabs within the menu and you'll find popular images displayed and the option top search for your favourite one through the web interface.

Website preview in Messages

When pasting in links, you would previously be accustom to a URL with no preview or idea of what the website looks like to your recipient. With the new Messages update in iOS 10, iMessage now automatically pulls in the main image from the website and provides a nice preview for your recipient.

Better still, if you are pasting in a YouTube video link you can watch the video directly through the Messages app. This means you can now watch videos directly in Messages and not have to open up the YouTube app or browser.

How to use Messages in iOS 10 - Links

Take pictures directly from Messages

On WhatsApp, Viber and other major mobile communication applications, you can take pictures and videos directly through the app. You can now do the same in the Messages app. Simply tap on the camera button to the left-hand side of your text box and the camera will operate. You'll now see a live stream of your camera from the bottom half of your Messages application.

You can also take selfies, Live Photos and videos. If you swipe to the side, you can have full access to your camera or photo library or even add previously taken photos as an iMessage.

Better still, you can edit your photos before sending it. Tap on the image you've just inserted within your Messages app and you'll be presented by marking up and editing the image.

How to use Messages in iOS 10 - Camera

Listen to Apple Music directly in Messages

If you press on the compass button on the left-hand side of the text box and wipe to the side, you'll find the option to send songs from Apple Music to your recipient.

You can even listen to the songs within Messages.

Read next: Complete guide to Apple Music | What is HomeKit?