iMessage not working? Find out if iMessage down & fix iMessage problems

We explain how to fix various problems with iMessage on iPhone, iPad and Mac, including how to recover missing iMessages, how to fix iMessages not being sent, and what to do when switching from iPhone to Android and you want to continue to receive your text messages and SMS. Plus, how to find out if iMessage is down.

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  • iMessage fixes 1
  • Is iMessage down? 2
  • iMessage not sending 3
  • Not receiving messages 4
  • Switch off iMessage 5
  • Switch off iMessage without an iPhone 6
  • Use iMessage without an iPhone 7
  • Broken group messaging 8
  • Restore Messages 9
  • iMessage greyed out 10
  • Old messages disappeared (Part 1) 11
  • Old messages disappeared (Part 2) 12
  • More stories
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Tip 1 of 12: How to fix iPhone message problems

Are you having problems sending messages using your iPhone, iPad or Mac?

iMessage - accessed through the Messages app - is Apple's messaging service, which enables users to send messages to friends on iPhones, iPads and Macs for free. iMessages are indicated by a blue bubble, while normal text messages (which you might have to pay to send depending on the terms of your contract) are green.

From time to time iMessage stops working - that's probably the reason why you are reading this article. There could be a number of reasons why iMessage won’t work, it could be an issue with Apple's iMessage server, it might be a problem with the iMessage software, or your settings could need adjusting. We will run throught all the possible reasons why iMessage isn't working in this features, including some simple fixes if iMessage stops working on your iPad, iPhone or Mac.

Here are our quick fixes for common Messages problems.

Related: How to send and receive text messages on Mac | How to use Messages in iOS 10

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Next Prev slideshow image

Are you having problems sending messages using your iPhone, iPad or Mac?

iMessage - accessed through the Messages app - is Apple's messaging service, which enables users to send messages to friends on iPhones, iPads and Macs for free. iMessages are indicated by a blue bubble, while normal text messages (which you might have to pay to send depending on the terms of your contract) are green.

From time to time iMessage stops working - that's probably the reason why you are reading this article. There could be a number of reasons why iMessage won’t work, it could be an issue with Apple's iMessage server, it might be a problem with the iMessage software, or your settings could need adjusting. We will run throught all the possible reasons why iMessage isn't working in this features, including some simple fixes if iMessage stops working on your iPad, iPhone or Mac.

Here are our quick fixes for common Messages problems.

Related: How to send and receive text messages on Mac | How to use Messages in iOS 10

 

Step 2 of 12: Is iMessage down? Check if iMessage is down

The first possibility is that the server that iMessage is run from is down - which could mean that iMessage isn't working for anyone. This is rare, but it does happen occasionally. On 15 February 2017, for example, there were widespread problems with iMessage and it appears that the system was down entirely.

You can check if any of Apple's online services are experiencing outages by checking Apple's System Status page.

The Apple System Status site should give you the most up-to-date information about the status of iMessage, as well as iCloud, the App Store, Apple Music and all other Apple-powered services.

On this webpage Apple gives you a heads up about any services with planned maintenance work, along with a report of any recently resolved issues in any of its services.

If Apple’s System Status site suggests that all is well, the outage could be localised, or it could be that the website only checks the service status every 5/10/30 mins and is yet to be updated.

As an alternative to Apple's page, you could try Down Detector (search for iMessage), which offers not only the current status of all Apple services but a number of services, from Steam to PSN and even individual games.

Down Detector provides a graph detailing outage reports from the past 24 hours, and even an outage map to see whether you’re in an affected area.

You could also search for the word iMessage and related terms on Twitter; if lots of people are talking about the problem then it's clearly not just you.

If iMessage is down then you should still be able to communicate with your friends via normal texts; you'll automatically be pushed into green-bubble texts instead of blue-bubble iMessages. To force this to happen follow this tutorial: How to send a text when your friend isn't getting your iMessages.

 

Step 3 of 12: iMessage not sending? Check your signal

Another reason why iMessage may not work is because your phone signal isn't sufficient. If your phone is only getting a GPRS signal rather than Edge, 3G or 4G, you may find that iMessage just hangs.

Perhaps you can grab some signal by turning your aerial on and off again, this sometimes works. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone or iPad screen, and select and deselect Airplane mode.

Alternatively you could try and get on a WiFi network, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and have a look to see if there is a free Wi-Fi network nearby.

(If you are attempting to send an iMessage from your Mac you might also want to check your internet connection - just try googling something in Safari and that should give you your answer pretty quickly if you are offline).

If you still don't get a data connection, and there is no WiFi available, you should be able to press and hold on the undelivered message and choose to 'Send as text meassage' from the options that come up. A text mesage should get through even over a GPRS connection. The latter will only work with an iPhone though. 

If that doesn't work you may need to reset your network settings. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. See if this fixes the problem.

 

Step 4 of 12: Not receiving Messages? Have you (or your friend) got a new phone?

Another reason why your may not be receiving iMessages, or your friend may not be receiving the iMessages you send them, could be because iMessages can only be received on Apple devices.

If you or your friend recently swapped an iPhone for another type of smartphone you may  find that messages start going awol.

If you swap from an iPhone to another smartphone without first deactivating iMessage, any text messages sent by your iPhone owning friends will no longer be delivered to you because they could be stuck in Apple's iMessage servers.

Before you switch from iPhone to Android it's important to deactivate iMessage on the old iPhone first, or all your messages from friends who use iPhones won't get through to you.

Find out how to do this on the next slide.

 

Step 5 of 12: How to deactivate iMessage if you move from iPhone to Android

Before switching to a new smartphone you should first deactivate iMessage on your iPhone., otherwise you may end up missing messages from your iPhone equipped friends.

Before moving to a new handset, this is the procedure you need to follow:

  1. Go to Settings > Messages
  2. Switch off iMessage using the slider

After turning off iMessage, the text messages you send on an iPhone will be green rather than blue.

 

Step 6 of 12: How to deactivate iMessage if you no longer have an iPhone

It is crazy but for a long time the only way to deactivate iMessage, if you got an alternative smartphone and forgot to deactivate iMessage on your old iPhone first, was to call Apple to ask them to manually remove your mobile number from the iMessage database. Talk about holding iPhone users ransom!

Luckily Apple eventually relented and made it easier to deregister.

Apple released a web tool to make it easier to deregister from iMessage. Now consumers simply input their mobile number here, and then enter the six-digit confirmation code that is sent via SMS (presumably not via iMessage!).

 

Step 7 of 12: How to use iMessage if you don't have an iPhone

Perhaps you still want to use iMessage but you no longer have an iPhone. You can choose to continue to receive iMessages on your Mac or iPad, but beware that these messages will not appear on your non-Apple phone.

Those messages will be sent using an ID that is not your mobile number - likely your iCloud email address.

It's easy to check what ID your messages will be sent to, on a Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud. Log in and click on the Contact tab. Check which IDs are listed (and ensure that your phone number is not listed there). Make sure your friends have those details.

Check your iCloud.com settings on your iPad by going to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive.

 

Step 8 of 12: What to do if group iMessags aren't working

If you're having trouble sending messages to groups of people, one reason for this could be that one of your contacts no longer has an iPhone. 

When you send a group message in iMessage all your contacts will show up as blue, until you add someone who doesn't have iMessage, then they will all turn green as the iMessage group will not be supported.

In theory if you had a group iMessage and one of your contacts stopped using their iPhone this would break the group iMessage.

To find out if this is the case, start a new group message rather than continuing with the old one.

 

Step 9 of 12: Restore Messages from a backup

Assuming you have an iCloud back up of your phone you could try erasing the content on your phone and recovering it.

If you haven't backed up your phone start by going to Settings > iCloud > Backup > Back Up Now. 

(If you don't already back up to iCloud you will need to tap iCloud Backup to turn it on first.)

Before backing up check what will be backed up. Go to Settings > Storage > Manage Storage and click on your iPhone. It will ask you to choose the Data to back up. Luckily your Messages are automatically backed up, but you may want to check everything else you need is there before deleting your entire iPhone!

After your phone is backed up you are hopefully safe to erase the iPhone. Go to Settings > General > Erase All Content and Settings.

During initial setup, select the option to restore from backup.

 

Step 10 of 12: What to do if iMessage is greyed out

Some users have reported a problem with iMessage being greyed out. One tip is to reset Messages. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. Tap each email address to remove it.
  2. Go back one screen and tap iMessage to turn it off.
  3. Go back again and tap FaceTime. Deselect all FaceTime emails and tap FaceTime to turn it off
  4. Wait five minutes.
  5. Turn iMessage and FaceTime back on with no email address selected. It should just have your mobile number ticked. Use this from now on.
 

Step 11 of 12: My old messages disappeared when I upgraded my iPhone

From time to time during an iOS update iPhone owners have lost some messages from their iPhone.

For example, a few years back a friend updated to iOS 7 but following the update discovered that all her text messages had been deleted, including ones from her granny who had died recently. She wondered if there was a way to get them back. 

We asked whether they had run out of space during the update, something that is common for those people with a 16GB iPhone (read about why a 16GB iPhone isn't enough). The phone had indeed run out of space and it had been forced to return to factory settings during the update process, and because there wasn't enough space to perform the upgrade, the iPhone had not completely restored from the back up. 

They noted that it was the iMessages that had been recovered, while it was the text messages that had disappeared. Unfortunately, text messages aren't transferrable in the same way as iMessages as these are not tied to your Apple ID in the same way.

It still may be possible to recover these messages by recovering the original back up of the iPhone. We have an article about how to retrieve deleted text messages on iPhone here.

The problem is that when you sync your iPhone with iTunes or iCloud it syncs your music, photos and apps, however your text messages are not synced in the same way. You could try contacting your network provider (O2, Orange, whoever you pay your bill to) as they may keep a record of your text messages.

 

Step 12 of 12: My old messages disappeared when I upgraded my iPhone

Alternatively you could try restoring from an old backup if you have one - look in your iCloud Backups to see if you still have a backup of an older device.

You may, if you are very lucky, be able to get them back if you restore from a previous back up.

In iCloud:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage
  2. Under iCloud tap Manage Storage and tap on an older iPhone backup if there is one

In iTunes:

  1. Find your iPhone under devices in the list in the sidebar (it there is no sidebar, go to View > Show Sidebar.
  2. Select your iPhone and then view the Summary Page. Here's where you may be able to locate an older backup from which to restore your iPhone, depending on how good you are at making backups in the first place.
  3. Click Restore Backup and cross your fingers.

If you never made a backup you cannot restore your old messages back to your iPhone, although you could try and use a program such as iTunes Backup Extractor - it's for PC only, though, and we haven't tested it. 

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