Have you been sending important iMessages to a friend only to discover that they didn't receive any of them?

Or has your friend been complaining that you aren't getting their messages?

In this tutorial we'll show you how to turn on iMessages on an iPhone, iPad or Mac, so that you or your friend can receive iMessages.

We'll also explain what you need to do to deregister from iMessage if you get a new phone that isn't an iPhone. Otherwise, your friends will continue to send you iMessages that you can't receive.

(If you've got the opposite problem - messages appearing where they shouldn't - then read our tutorial showing how to stop calls and texts on old iPhones.)

How to send a text message when iMessages isn't working

If you are in a hurry and can't contact your friend to get them to fix their phone so it can receive iMessages then the quickest course of action is to send them a standard text. (Here's how to tell an iMessage from an SMS text.)

  1. Start by composing your message to your friend in the Messages app. 
  2. Press send and immediately press and hold on the message.
  3. You should see the option to "Send as Text Messgage" in which case, tap on that and the message will turn green and send. (The green colour indicates that it's a text, blue indicates that it's an iMessage).
  4. If you didn't see the "Send as Text Message" option, turn on Airplane mode - this will ensure that your iPhone can't attempt to send via iMessage - then when you see the failed to send message, choose "Send as Text Message" and turn Airplane Mode off.

How to turn on iMessages on an iPhone

If you know your friend has an iPhone they should be able to receive iMessages - but they may not have the iMessage feature activated, or not be registered for it.

In that case your friend will need to set up iMessage on their device.

  1. Open Settings > Messages
  2. Turn on iMessage.

If when they do this they may see an alert that iMessage Activation is taking place. This may happen if they have recently switched to a new network provider, or just purchased a new iPhone. If they have issues with iMessage Activation sent them to this article: What to do when iMessages won't activate on your iPhone.

How to stop iMessages if you no longer have an iPhone

Is your friend using an Android or Windows device? Have you recently switched from iPhone to a different handset?

iMessages can only be received on Apple devices, so if you or your friend no longer has an iPhone iMessages won't appear on their handset.

However, if they (or you) have a Mac or an iPad then iMessages will still appear there, which is useful, but not useful if it means people are sending iMessages and they aren't seen for weeks...

If you no longer want to receive iMessages you need to deregister from iMessage. Here's how to do that:

  1. If you still have the old iPhone, go to Settings > Messages.
  2. Switch off iMessage using the slider.
  3. Luckily if they forgot to do this, it is possible to deactivate iMessage using a web tool. You can find it here.
  4. Just input your mobile number there, and then enter the six-digit confirmation code that is sent via SMS (presumably not via iMessage!).

How to fix iMessage not working on iPhone, iPad & Mac: Deregister

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

How to receive iMessages if you haven't got 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.

To continue to receive iMessages on your Mac follow these steps:

  1. Go to System Preferences > iCloud.
  2. Log in and click on the Contact tab.
  3. Check which IDs are listed (and ensure your phone number is not listed there).
  4. Make sure your friends have those details.

On an iPad, you can make sure you continue to receive iMessages by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive.
  2. Check your iCloud.com settings.

You can read more about getting and sending text messages from your Mac here.

There is also an with notifications for messages not being shown in iOS 14.