Macworld Masterclass: How to set up and use iMessage

Send unlimited free texts to friends with compatible iOS devices

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  • imessage Intro
  • step 1 Step 1: Sign in with your Apple ID
  • step 2 Step 2: Tweak the options
  • Step 3 Step 3: Create an iMessage
  • Step 4 Step 4: Using threads
  • Step 5 Step 5: Using an iPad (with no 3G)
  • Step 6 Step 6: Starting a a conversation
  • More stories
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Intro

Did you know that iMessages are a special kind of text message between compatible iOS 5 devices? If you set it up correctly, the Messages app will slickly switch to normal SMS messaging if you try to send an iMessage to someone who isn’t registered with the service. iMessage is free and unlimited, and it’s like a user-friendly text and email hybrid.

Threads are presented as back-and-forths like normal texts in iOS, and you can send photos, contacts and so on. And, excluding the SMS fallback feature, iPod touch and non-3G iPad users can get involved, too. Here’s how to set it up…

Vital Info

Device: Any iOS 5 device
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5
A friend with a compatible device running iOS 5

Next »

Next Prev imessage

Did you know that iMessages are a special kind of text message between compatible iOS 5 devices? If you set it up correctly, the Messages app will slickly switch to normal SMS messaging if you try to send an iMessage to someone who isn’t registered with the service. iMessage is free and unlimited, and it’s like a user-friendly text and email hybrid.

Threads are presented as back-and-forths like normal texts in iOS, and you can send photos, contacts and so on. And, excluding the SMS fallback feature, iPod touch and non-3G iPad users can get involved, too. Here’s how to set it up…

Vital Info

Device: Any iOS 5 device
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5
A friend with a compatible device running iOS 5

 

Step 2 of 7: Step 1: Sign in with your Apple ID

Assuming you’ve upgraded to iOS 5, you need to sign in with your Apple ID to set up iMessage. If you haven’t got one – and an Apple ID is essential for many of the most interesting features in iOS 5 – it’s a quick process to create a new account by suppling an email address, password and security question.

 

Step 3 of 7: Step 2: Tweak the options

On an iPhone, go to Settings, then scroll down and press the Messages icons. Make sure iMessage is set to On. You’ll also need to consider other options, such as whether or not you want to allow Messages to default to SMS texts when the iMessage service isn’t available. (You may need to pay for these, of course.)

 

Step 4 of 7: Step 3: Create an iMessage

Go to the Messages app that will have appeared on your homescreen when you installed iOS 5. Hit the ‘write new message’ icon at the top right, then add a new recipient using the + (plus) button. If this recipient is already registered with the iMessage service, the screen will be titled ‘New iMessage’.

 

Step 5 of 7: Step 4: Using threads

The iMessages you send come up on your screen in blue bubbles instead of the green bubbles that texts used to occupy. The ones you receive from other people will be grey whether they’re iMessages or not, but your iPhone will put a small label above each thread indicating what kind of message they contain.

 

Step 6 of 7: Step 5: Using an iPad (with no 3G)

It’s all very well sending texts from an iPhone, but now we’ll try sending an iMessage from an iPad 2 that hasn’t got 3G. After installing iOS 5, start up the Messages app that willl have appeared on the homescreen. Again, you’ll be asked for an Apple ID. Next, pick a country: scroll down and choose the United Kingdom.

 

Step 7 of 7: Step 6: Starting a a conversation

Now you’re ready to fire off a message. In the New Message screen that opens automatically after you register, pick someone in your contacts list, and the system will look to see if they are already registered with iMessage. If all is well, you’ll be able to start a new conversation over iMessage straight away.

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