How to Activate iMessage Step-by-Step (With Photos)

how to activate imessage

How to Activate iMessage Step-by-Step (With Photos)

Apple’s iMessage is a great way to send and receive encrypted messages on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. When you activate iMessage, you will receive texts and emails on all devices associated with your iMessage phone number or email. It’s easy to follow the thread of the conversation when you can see all of your messages on every device.

However, before you can start exchanging messages, you’ll need to activate iMessage. Not sure how? Just follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to activate iMessage and you’ll be chatting in a flash!

How to Activate iMessage on iPhone or iPad

The steps to activate iMessage are different depending on the device you’re using. In this case, since you can send and receive texts on an iPad, the process is the same as on an iPhone. Let’s take a look at how to activate iMessage on your phone or iPad.

Step 1: Open Settings

how to activate imessage
Tap the gear to open Settings.

Tap the grey gear icon to open your phone or iPad Settings. This example is using an iPhone, but the icons are the same as on the iPad.

Step 2: Tap Messages

how to activate imessage
Tap to open Messages.

Scroll down and tap the green Messages icon. You should find the Messages icon in the section with Phone and FaceTime.

Step 3: Toggle the iMessage Switch

how to activate imessage
Toggle the switch to turn on iMessage and wait for activation.

Toggle the switch from grey to green to enable iMessage. Underneath this setting, you’ll see a message that says, “Waiting for activation…” Activation should only take a few seconds, then you’ll be ready to send and receive iMessages on your iPhone or iPad.

Step 4: Select Phone Numbers and Email Addresses

how to activate imessage
Choose your phone numbers and email addresses.

Next, you need to choose which phone numbers and email addresses you want to associate with iMessage. Tap on Send & Receive under the iMessage switch. Then select “You Can Receive iMessages To and Reply From” from the list.

Now you can receive text messages from your friends and family with iMessage! Still have some lingering questions or steps you’re not sure of? We found this perfect step-by-step tutorial on YouTube for you to watch that may clear up any confusion.

How to Activate iMessage on a Mac

You can also activate iMessage on a Mac. The process is simple, but you will need to use the Messages app to get set up. Log on to your Mac laptop or desktop and let’s begin.

Step 1: Open the Messages App

how to activate imessage
Open the messages app in your toolbar.

First, open the Messages app. On devices running an older OSX, the app may be blue. Those running a more recent OSX have the same green icon as on the iPhone and iPad.

Step 2: Type in Your Apple ID and Password

how to activate imessage
Enter your Apple ID in the box provided.

Type in the same Apple ID you use on your phone or other devices. Then enter the password when prompted and sign in.

Step 3: Choose iMessage Phone Numbers and Email Addresses

how to activate imessage
Select which numbers and email addresses you want to use.

Under iMessage Settings, choose which email addresses and phone numbers you want to receive messages to. If you have more than one email or phone number where you can be reached, you can select options for starting new conversations. You can also tick the box to Enable Messages in iCloud to back up your messages.

iMessage on Apple Watch

When you activate iMessage on your iPhone, you will get a notification that says “An Apple Watch now has access to iMessage.” Messages on your connected watch will mirror your iPhone. This means you’ll get the same iMessages and SMS messages on both devices.

The notifications are also the same on both devices, but you can go into the Watch app on your phone if you want to change them. Open the Watch app and scroll down to Messages. Tap on Messages to customize your notification settings.

iCloud for Messages

Enable Messages in iCloud to ensure your messages always stay up-to-date.

On your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on your name at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Scroll down and tap Show All.
  5. Scroll down and tap on Messages.
  6. Toggle the switch to turn on Sync this iPhone/ iPad.

On your Mac:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Click on iMessage.
  4. Click on Settings.
  5. Tick the box to Enable Messages in iCloud.
  6. Set up additional options as needed.

Note that If your device is running macOS 12 or earlier, you’ll need to open Messages and click Preferences. Then click iMessage and tick the box to Enable Messages in iCloud.

how to activate imessage
Enable iCloud for Messages on iPhone (left) and Mac (right).

When Messages in iCloud are enabled, any new messages will be backed up to the cloud. You will also be able to access messages currently stored in iCloud from any device using the same Apple ID.

I Can’t Activate iMessage

If your device is stuck on “Waiting for activation…” or you get an “Activation Unsuccessful” error, there are a few things you can try to solve the issue. Apple says it can take up to 24 hours for activation, so if it’s been 24 hours and you’re still receiving errors, give the following fixes a try.

1. Restart Your Device

First, restart your device. If iMessage is not activated when your device comes back on, repeat Steps 1-3.

2. Update Your Software

Make sure that your device is running the most up-to-date software. Open up Settings and tap General. Then tap on Software Update to see if there are new updates available. Download and install any updates, then try to activate iMessage again.

3. Disable then Re-Enable iMessage

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Tap on Messages.
  3. Toggle the switch to turn off iMessage.
  4. Restart your device.
  5. Go back to Settings.
  6. Tap Messages.
  7. Toggle the switch to turn iMessage back on.

4. Check Your Connectivity

You can easily check your connectivity under Settings. Ensure that your device is connected to Wifi or your cellular network and make sure Airplane Mode is also turned off.

5. Sign Out of Your Apple ID

  1. Open up Settings.
  2. Tap on your name at the top.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and sign out of your Apple ID.
  4. Restart your device.
  5. Re-pen your Settings.
  6. Tap Sign In at the top of the page and enter your Apple ID.
  7. Check iMessage and re-enable it if necessary.
how to activate imessage
Tap Sign Out at the bottom of your screen.

6. Check That Your Date and Time are Correct

Go to Settings and tap on General. Next, tap on Date and Time. Make sure the switch for Set Automatically is in the on position. If it is not, toggle the switch to turn it on and restart your device. Then re-activate iMessage if needed.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you learn how to activate iMessage. If you have not already done so, give iMessage a try! Follow these simple steps and enjoy sending and receiving secure messages among friends and family.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I activate iMessage on iPhone?

Go to Settings > Messages. Toggle the iMessage switch to green and wait for activation to complete. Then, you can select the email and phone number you want to use.

How do I activate iMessage on a Mac?

Open the Messages app, then type in the Apple ID you use on your other devices. Enter the password, then sign in. Now, you can select the email and phone number for iMessage.

Do I need to activate iMessage on Apple Watch?

No. When you activate iMessage on your iPhone, your paired watch will receive the same messages as your phone.

Do I need to enable iCloud for Messages to get my messages on all of my devices?

No, but iCloud for Messages backs up your messages, so any new device will be able to access the messages stored on iCloud.

How long does activation take?

Activation typically takes less than a minute, but Apple suggests waiting for up to 24 hours for activation to complete.

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