How to Set Up and Activate iMessage on iOS

Want to begin using iMessage, but not sure how to set it up? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be showing you how to activate and set up iMessage on your iOS device. If you’re having trouble, we’ll also be going over some reasons why your messages might not be working properly, and suggest things you can do to fix them.

Let’s start by going over how to turn iMessage on.

To set up iMessage:

1. Open up the settings on your device.

Tap the Settings icon on your screen to launch the settings app.

Open iOS settings

2. Scroll down and tap Messages.

In the settings app, scroll down a little until you see Messages and tap on it to open your messaging settings.

Open Messages settings

3. At the top of the next screen, move the toggle over to the right to activate iMessage.

At the top of your screen, you’ll see a slider to the right of where it says “iMessage.” To enable the app, move the toggle over to the right. When the toggle is green, it has been activated.

Enable iMessage

4. Choose the addresses you’d like to use to send and receive messages.

If you tap Send & Receive, you can choose from the phone numbers and email addresses associated with your Apple ID to use for iMessage.

Choose addresses to send and receive iMessages

5. Customize your other iMessage settings to your personal preferences.

If you scroll down the page after activating, you’ll see other options and settings you can change. Customize these settings to your liking.

iMessage customizable settings

Some of these settings can help you increase your safety or save on data usage. We also have articles about the app’s data usage and its safety if you’d like to learn how you can configure these settings to your benefit.

One setting that you may not have remembered to configure is Read Receipts. These are indicators of whether you have read someone’s message or not. If you want to enable Read Receipts so that people know when you’ve read their message, slide the switch beside “Send Read Receipts” to the right until it turns green. If you don’t want people to know when you have read their messages, leave this feature disabled.

iMessage read receipts

There are other settings you can configure on your device that relate to iMessage, but that are not included in the iMessage settings menu. Next, we’ll show you how you can turn off message preview in your notifications.

To disable message preview:

1. Tap Settings on the home screen of your iPhone.

To access your device settings, tap the Settings icon.

Access iOS settings

2. Scroll down the settings menu, and tap Notifications.

From the list of options on the next page, select Notifications.

Notifications settings

3. On the next page, select Messages.

To configure how your notifications appear when you receive a message, tap Messages.

Messages settings menu

4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Show Previews.

Tap Show Previews to customize your message notifications.

Show previews of messages setting

5. Finally, select Off to disable the function.

If you don’t want a sample of your messages to appear within your notifications, select Off to disable message previews.

Turn message previews off

That’s all you need to do to activate and set up iMessage. However, sometimes people run into problems with the app. Some of these issues are more common, so we want to give you a list of them and what you can do to solve the problem if it happens to you.

Reasons iMessage might not be working

1. You need to fix your Internet connection.

If you’re having problems with while connected to a Wi-Fi network, the issue could be rooted in your network connection, not your device itself. To fix it, try disconnecting from Wi-Fi to see if iMessage works when using mobile data. If you need to stay on Wi-Fi, ensure that you have entered the correct network password. You can try re-booting your Wi-Fi router as well.

2. You need to re-boot your device.

Sometimes, turning your device off and on again will solve small software issues. Try fully shutting down your device and turning it back on to see if that fixes your issue.

3. You need to update your device’s operating system.

If you haven’t updated your iOS in a while, the issue could be simply that your device needs an update. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and make sure that your device’s operating system has been updated to the newest available version.

4. You need to sign into your Apple ID

You may be having issues simply because you aren’t signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID. iMessage uses your Apple ID for you to send and receive messages, so you need to be signed in for it to work properly. To make sure you’re signed in, go to Settings > iCloud, and check that you’re properly logged into your Apple ID account.

5. You need to reset your network settings.

Sometimes, you can have issues because the device’s network settings need to be reset. You can reset yours by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Try resetting them to see if it solves your issue.

6. You have to disable Portrait Orientation Lock.

A few of iMessage’s features can only be access with your device in landscape mode. If you have Portrait Orientation Lock enabled, you won’t be able to use these features. To disable it, slide your finger from the bottom of your screen upwards to reveal a control panel. The button in the top right corner controls Portrait Orientation Lock. If it’s red, it’s enabled, if it’s grey, it’s disabled. Tap the button once to enabled or disable the feature.

7. Your device may have a hardware issue.

If all of these troubleshooting methods don’t work for you, it’s possible that your device has a more serious issue rooted in the hardware of your device. We’d recommend going into an Apple Genius Bar location or calling Apple support for more help.

You can contact Apple at You can reserve an Apple Genius Bar appointment online at

That’s it for this article about how to activate and set up iMessage on your iPhone or iPad. We hope you found it helpful. Be sure to check out the rest of our iMessage course to learn more. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment below.