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iMessage is Apple’s exclusive messaging platform that enables you to send and receive messages, photos, videos, and more over Wi-Fi or cellular data connections. Apple developed this service and dedicated it solely to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. Except for the costs associated with data usage, messaging on iMessage is free.

However, to use the iMessage service without any hitches, you must activate it first. Several methods exist, including using your Apple ID, email address, and phone number. All these methods have the same goal: to verify your device and connect it with Apple’s messaging servers. Doing so is pretty straightforward.

This article will walk you through the steps of activating iMessage with your phone number. While we’ll focus more on the iOS platform, we’ll also provide instructions on activating iMessage with your phone number on your iPad.

Let’s get started!

Key Points

  • iMessage is a text messaging platform built for Apple devices.
  • The iMessage service requires cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection to send and receive messages.
  • Activating iMessage with a phone number allows users to communicate easily and quickly across devices.
  • You can also activate iMessage with your Apple ID or email address.
  • You’ll need SMS credit to activate iMessage with a phone number.

What You Need Before Activating iMessage With Phone Number

Before you activate your iMessage account, there are a few things you need to make sure of:

  • You need an activated SIM card. The iMessage must be associated with a phone number, and the SIM card should be installed in your iPhone.
  • You need an active internet connection. You can use either Wi-Fi or your cellular data to access iMessage services. If you don’t have cellular data or Wi-Fi connectivity, you can tell a friend to hotspot their internet connection to your device.
  • You need enough credit to send and receive SMS messages. Standard charges depending on carrier apply when iMessage sends SMS messages to Apple servers during the activation process.

Note that you’ll only need the credits during the activation process and not when you use iMessage. With that out of the way, you can now activate your iMessage account using your phone number.

7 Steps to Activate iMessage with a Phone Number on Your iPhone or iPad

Step 1: Open Settings

On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app. If you don’t have this app on your home screen, swipe left to access it from the App Library. It looks like a gear icon.

activate imessage with phone number
Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Select Messages

On the Settings page, scroll down to the Messages option and tap on it. The messages icon is green with a white chat bubble.

activate imessage with phone number
Click on Messages.

Step 3: Turn on iMessage

Under Messages, you’ll find several options, including the iMessage toggle. Tap the toggle to turn on iMessage, which should then be green.

You’ll see a confirmation message on the screen informing you that your carrier may charge for SMS messages. Tap OK.

activate imessage with phone number
Tap the iMessage toggle to make it green.

Step 4: Wait for Activation

Once you turn on iMessage, your device will begin the activation process. Below the Send and Receive option on the messages page, you’ll see a Waiting for activation… message. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long.

activate imessage with phone number
It will read Waiting for activation…

Step 5: Select Send & Receive

Once the activation is complete, you’ll need to select the Send & Receive option. This option brings you to a page with your Apple ID and phone number. Here you can choose which of the two to use when sending and receiving messages on iMessage.

activate imessage with phone number
Click Send & Receive and choose your phone number or Apple ID when sending and receiving iMessages.

Step 6: Sign in With Your Apple ID

First, select Use your Apple ID for iMessage. Then, enter your Apple ID email address and password and tap Sign In.

A tick will appear next to your Apple ID. It means it’s ready for use on iMessage.

activate imessage with phone number
Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage.

Step 7: Select Your Phone Number

Now, tap your phone number. It should appear right above your Apple ID. When you tap it, a tick will also appear next to the number, signifying that it’s ready to use on iMessage. Ensure that both your Apple ID and phone number have a tick next to them.

That’s it. You have successfully activated iMessage with your phone number and can now start sending and receiving text messages and multimedia content on your device.

To double-check that your iMessage is working correctly, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and see that both your Apple ID and phone number have a tick next to them. If they do, you’re good to go.

activate imessage with phone number
Enter your phone number and be sure both your phone number and Apple ID have a check mark next to them.

What to Do When You Receive Error Messages When Activating iMessage

You might encounter some challenges during the iMessage activation process. If you happen to receive any of the following messages, there are a few things you can do:

  • Waiting for activation…
  • An error occurred during the activation.
  • Unable to contact the iMessage server
  • Couldn’t sign in. Please check your connection.

While these messages can be frustrating, they are fixable. Below are some troubleshooting steps you can take.

Restart iMessage

To restart iMessage, go to Settings > Messages and toggle the switch off. Let the app shut down, then switch it back on again. Doing this should force iMessage to restart in the background. In some cases, this can solve the issue.

Check Your System Settings

Sometimes, iMessage won’t activate properly because your system settings are wrong. Maybe your date is incorrect, or you’re not connected to the internet. It could also be that you don’t have enough SMS credit needed for the activation process.

To fix this problem, go to Settings > General > Date & Time and make sure the date is correct. You can set an automatic time update if you’re not sure. Also, check the internet connection to make sure you’re connected. If not, switch on your Wi-Fi or Mobile Data and try again.

If you’re using a prepaid SIM card, ensure you have enough credit.

Update the Operating System

When it’s 24 hours and none of the above solutions work, perhaps you need to update your operating system. The first step is to back up your device using iCloud or iTunes, then go to Settings > General > Software Update and select Download and Install if there’s an available update.

You can also contact your carrier to ensure your phone number can receive and send SMS messages. If all fails, you can contact Apple Support for further assistance. But, in most cases, the solutions above should do the trick and help you activate iMessage with your phone number.

How to Remove the Phone Number Used in iMessage Activation

Sometimes, you may need to remove the phone number used in your iMessage activation. This can happen if you switch mobile numbers or use only your Apple ID when sending and receiving messages. Not to worry, removing the phone number is easy.

Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. From here, select your Apple ID and sign out. The number you used will instantly be removed from iMessage. You can then sign back in using your Apple ID and start sending and receiving messages without any phone number attached.

Suppose the number you want to disassociate with iMessage is on an iPhone, not in your possession. In that case, you’ll need to change your Apple ID password. Doing so will automatically remove the phone number from your iMessage account, and you won’t be able to receive or send messages from it.

Wrapping Up

Activating iMessage with your phone number is easy and takes just a few minutes. With the help of this article, you now have all it takes to activate iMessage on your iPhone and use it without any issues. And, if you encounter any challenges, you can always restart your iMessage app, check your system settings, or update your operating system.

You can also remove the phone number used in the iMessage activation process if you no longer need it or if it happens to be on an iPhone that is not in your possession. Now that you know all this, you can start using iMessage without interruptions.

How to Activate iMessage with Your Phone Number: Step-by-Step Guide (with Photos) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why can't I activate iMessage with my phone number?

Several factors can prevent iMessage from activating with your phone number. These include incorrect system settings, insufficient SMS credit, or a faulty internet connection. You may also need to update your operating system if none of the above solutions work.

Why can't I receive an iMessage from my phone number?

If you can’t receive an iMessage from your phone number, it may be that the number hasn’t been properly activated with iMessage. To activate the number, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. From here, sign in with your Apple ID and click on your phone number to activate iMessage with your phone number.

Why is iMessage not working on iPhone?

If you activated iMessage and it isn’t working properly on your iPhone, it may be due to an incorrect configuration of settings. To fix this problem, ensure you have the latest version of iOS installed and try resetting your network settings. Check that your Apple ID is correctly linked to your phone number and try restarting the device.

How do I activate iMessage on a second device?

You will need to activate it separately if you want to use iMessage on a different device, such as an iPad. You can enter your Apple ID and password under Settings > Messages. Then, tap on Send & Receive and select the use of your Apple ID for iMessage or add a new email address that is associated with your Apple ID.

Is it possible to activate iMessage without a phone number?

It’s possible to use iMessage without a phone number. You can activate iMessage with your Apple ID or an email address.

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  • Apple Support Available here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201349
  • wikiHow Available here: https://www.wikihow.com/Activate-iMessage
  • Apple Support Available here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201422
  • Nerds Chalk Available here: https://nerdschalk.com/activation-unsuccessful-imessage-issue-how-to-fix/
  • Insider Inc Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/imessage-waiting-for-activation
  • Youtube Available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O66rOG4XaiA
  • Supportrix Available here: https://www.supportrix.com/kb/what-to-do-if-unable-to-activate-facetime-or-imessage-with-phone-number-and-apple-id/