iMessage: set up and use the Messages app from Apple

iMessage is Apple’s messaging service for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. You can also send text messages to people who do not have Apple products. You can read all about iMessage here: how do you send messages, what functions are in it and how do you use stickers?

What is iMessage?

iMessage is Apple’s own messaging service and iChat’s successor. With iMessage you can exchange messages for free. This can be text messages, but also photos, videos, emoji and stickers. You can also share locations, contact info and spoken messages with others via iMessage. Since 2017, iMessage messages are synchronized across all your Apple devices thanks to iMessage in iCloud.

  • Install iMessage
  • iMessage functions
  • Set up
  • Security
  • iMessage tips
  • Sign out

Install the iMessage app

To use the Messages app, you must meet a number of requirements:

  • iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with at least iOS 5.
  • Mac with at least OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

  • Apple ID or telephone number.

iMessage functions

With iMessage you can exchange messages with other users for free. If the recipient does not have an Apple ID and a suitable device, the message will be sent as normal SMS or MMS and the usual rates of your provider apply. The color of the speech bubble indicates how the message is sent: a blue speech bubble means an iMessage message, while a green speech bubble indicates that the message was sent as an SMS. This can happen if you are chatting with a Android-user. You can read more about sending iMessage messages in a separate tip.

Sending text messages via iMessage is not the only option. You can also exchange photos, videos, gifs, files and voice messages. You can also share your location in iMessage, so that the recipient knows where you are at that moment.

In addition to one-to-one messages, you can also have group conversations. You can provide the group with a name so that each participant knows what it is about. Within a group you can share photos, videos, locations and more with everyone who is part of the group discussion. iMessage also works with 3D Touch, so you can preview a message from the chat overview by pressing it hard. If you then swipe upwards, you can quickly send a standard answer.

iMessage on the iPhone and Mac.

On the iPhone and iPad you can use special iMessage apps, which you can download from a special App Store. This way you get all kinds of extra options, such as games, gifs and iMessage stickers. Below is a list of the best apps for iMessage.

Also read about:

  • Download and install iMessage apps
  • Use stickers in iMessage

iMessage also lets you send messages with all kinds of effects. You can have each individual message appear with a short animation of the speech bubble so that, for example, it is “popped” on the screen of the recipient. In addition to these more subtle animations, you can also use screen-filling effects. For example, you send a message with balloons, confetti, fireworks or lasers. You can read how to use them in our separate tip on iMessage effects. Some effects are automatically sent with certain words, for example when you send the text “Happy New Year”. In addition, you can respond directly to a message by holding it down.

Finally, iMessage works together with emoji. Once you have typed your message and switch to the emoji keyboard, certain words are displayed in color to indicate that they can be converted to a matching emoji. This way you can easily convert the word house into a picture of a small house. This works with all kinds of words and emoji.

You can read more about it in these articles:

  • Use iMessage effects and animations
  • Use automatic iMessage effects
  • Convert words to emoji in iMessage

Set up and use iMessage

Before you can use the messaging service you must first register. iMessage uses your standard phone number on your iPhone. On other devices without a SIM card, your Apple ID is used as the address. For example, if you have both an iPhone and an iPad, you can also use your telephone number on your iPad because it is linked to your Apple ID. In the articles below you can read how to set this, switch it off, change your telephone number and see if there is a malfunction.

  • Activate iMessage
  • Turn off iMessage
  • Change phone number in iMessage
  • Check whether there is a fault with iMessage

IMessage security

Apple explains in a separate security document how the security of the messaging service works. This shows, among other things, that two sets with two security keys are generated. The data is encrypted with one key and the messages are signed with a second key. Only one of the two keys is sent to Apple’s servers.

The encryption code is downloaded from Apple’s servers as soon as another iMessage user starts a conversation with you. A sent message is encrypted with a public code. Only your code can then decrypt the message. The opposite is also how it works: a message sent to your iDevice can only be read with the required encryption code.

The time code of an iMessage and the APN routing information appear to be unsecured, but because they are sent in an encrypted package, they cannot be intercepted en route. The encryption system makes iMessages on Apple’s servers unreadable if you do not have the relevant iDevices. A message will also be deleted once it has been received on all your iDevices. All messages will be deleted after seven days.

If you want to prevent other people from sending a message with your device, it is also important that the security of your devices is in good order. Setting an access code that is required to unlock your device saves a lot. You can read more about securing your device in the article below.

Two-step verification for iMessage

You can better secure an Apple ID for iMessage using two-step verification. This means that your telephone number or iPhone is required to log in to your account, making it less easy for hackers to break in. This security method has been supported by iMessage since February 2015.

iMessage tips

In all sorts of separate articles we explain step by step how you use certain functions:

  • Send text messages via iMessage
  • Send photos and videos via iMessage
  • Send voice memos via iMessage
  • Send contact information via iMessage
  • Sending locations via iMessage on iPhone and iPad

Unsubscribe from iMessage

If you no longer have an iPhone and / or iPad, but have used the Messages app before, it is possible that a text message is still being sent to your address. This is a problem that many former users encounter and at the end of 2014, after a long wait, a solution finally appeared. You can now terminate via a separate website without your phone or tablet.

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