iMessage Not Working? Here's How to Fix It (UPDATED FOR iOS 11)

If your iMessage is not working or not activating on iPhone or iPad, it could be for a number of different reasons, including the iMessage waiting-for-activation error that’s common to many users. However, we'll also cover how to fix iMessage when it's saying the text was not delivered or if your iPhone is not receiving texts. Whether you're on iOS 11 or an earlier software, iMessage may not be working but the solutions are roughly the same. We've got a few troubleshooting tips to fix iMessage when it's not working. iMessage not working is a big problem for users who rely on the service. If your iMessage isn't working or won't activate, we’ll figure out how to fix it. 

Related: How to Stop & Turn Off Messages on Mac in 4 Easy Steps

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Sometimes when iMessage isn’t working, it’s a problem on Apple’s end. But most of the time, iMessage not working is the fault of some buggy iOS or a faulty internet connection. If you’re wondering, "why won't my iMessage work," each of the following steps will help fix it. I'll start with small simple solutions, so go through each part of the article until your iMessage is working again.

Common iMessage Problems:

If the problem you’re having with iMessage isn’t listed above, it’s worth following the steps below anyway. Most iMessage problems can be fixed with the following steps. If you’re trying to stop iMessage sending from email, you can skip to this part if your iMessage is otherwise working.

How to Know You’ve Sent an iMessage vs. SMS

From our other article on enabling iMessage, the differences between an iMessage and SMS text message are as follows:

  • Text messages are sent through your cellular data provider (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc), but iMessages are automatically routed through Apple’s servers, saving you data if you’re on Wi-Fi.
  • If you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, the message will count towards your monthly data plan. But if you are connected to Wi-Fi, the iMessage will be sent freely and won't count towards your data plan.
  • Since you can send iMessages using Wi-Fi alone, you can also send iMessages from your iPad or Mac computer.
  • You can visually recognize the difference between an SMS (text message) and iMessage by the color of the message bubble. iMessages send as blue while SMS text messages send as green.

The caveat: the person you’re speaking to must also have an iPhone in order for iMessage to work. If they don’t, the message will send as a text message.

Fixing iMessage? Try This First

  • All or One Contact Not Working?

If your iMessages aren’t sending to any of your contacts, continue to the next bullet point. If iMessage isn’t working with just one contact, make sure that contact hasn’t changed phones recently. The problem is likely on their end.

  • Wi-Fi

iMessage needs an internet connection to work. iMessages sent over Wi-Fi don’t count towards your cellular plan, which is why iMessage can be awesome. To check your Wi-Fi connection, open Settings, tap Wi-Fi, and make sure you’re connected to a network.

  • Is iMessage Down?

Like most technological services, iMessage sometimes goes down. You can quickly and easily check to see if iMessage is down on Apple’s support website here: System Status’.

  • Available iPhone Update?

If iMessage isn’t working, check to see if there’s an iPhone update you need to install. Open Settings and select General. Tap Software Update.

  • Auto-Set Date & Time

This seems like an odd solution but it has worked for some users in the Apple support threads. Apparently, it’s very important that your date and time are correct for iMessage to work. It’s easiest to simply turn on auto-set date & time to make sure this is never a problem: open Settings, select General, choose Date & Time, and toggle on Set Automatically.

  • Delete Old Conversations

This is another odd solution that’s worked for some users; although, I admit I don’t know why. Make sure there’s nothing you need to keep within your message threads. Then open iMessages, swipe left on each message thread, and tap Delete. Make sure you save anything you want to first; the messages deleted will be gone forever (unless you restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup with saved iMessages).

Related: How to Fix iMessage Waiting for Activation Error on iPhone

How to Fix iMessage When It’s Not Working

Step One: Reset Network Settings

Before you do this, make sure you know your Wi-Fi passwords. Resetting Network Settings won’t affect anything on your iPhone. It’s not going to delete anything or restore your iPhone to factory settings. It’s simply going to reset your iPhone’s internet network settings, which means it will discard the Wi-Fi passwords your iPhone remembers.

  • Open Settings.
  • Select General.
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and tap Reset.
  • Select Reset Network Settings.

  • You may be asked to enter your iPhone's passcode.
  • Confirm Reset Network Settings.

Step Two: Turn iMessage Off & On

If iMessage or Facetime isn’t working, turning each off and on will, more often than not, fix the problem. Just like turning your iPhone off and on usually fixes any problems you’re having, turning iMessage or Facetime off and on will usually do the same.

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Messages.
  • Toggle iMessages Off.
  • Wait five minutes.

  • Toggle iMessage back On.

If you’re having trouble with Facetime, select Facetime in Settings and toggle Facetime off, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on.

Step Three: Set Phone Number in Send & Receive iMessages

This step fixes two issues in particular: if your iMessages are sending from your email instead of your phone number, we’ll fix that with this step. Users have also reported issues with iMessage appearing greyed out. To fix these iMessage problems:  

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Messages.
  • Select Send & Receive.
  • Choose where you can be reached at with iMessage.

  • If your iMessage problem is that it’s grey-out, delect your emails, redo step two, and return to make sure your number is checked. You should also be able to reselect your email, if desired.

  • If your iMessage problem is that they’re sending from your email, locate Start New Conversations From and select your number, instead of an email.

iMessage Still Not Working?

Step Four: Sign Out of iMessage & Back In

Whether it’s Facetime or iMessage that isn’t working, the last resort I recommend trying is signing out of each and signing back in. If your Facetime isn’t working, replace Facetime where I say iMessage below.

  • In the Settings app, select Messages.
  • Tap Send & Receive.
  • Tap your Apple ID at the top and press Sign Out.

  • Toggle off iMessage. (or Facetime, if not working)
  • Visit Wi-Fi in settings and toggle Wi-Fi off and back on.
  • Wait a few minutes, then toggle iMessage back on.
  • Tap Send & Receive.
  • Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage. Enter your Apple ID information.

  • Tap Sign In.

Avoid Future iMessage Interruptions:

If iMessage isn’t working, you can set it so that your iPhone automatically sends an SMS instead. Of course, SMS text messages will count towards your cellular plan, but at least your conversations won’t be interrupted by bad Wi-Fi or problems with iMessage not working. To allow Messages to send SMS text messages when iMessage isn’t working:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Messages.
  • Toggle on Send as SMS.

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Conner Carey's picture

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.