How to Send iMessage instead of Text Message on iPhone

Don’t let iPhone switch to text messages from iMessage if you don’t have an SMS plan

iMessage is one of the most used services within the Apple ecosystem. But unfortunately, it isn’t always as easy to use as it ought to be. There are times when it acts up and you feel like you haven’t got a clue how to get it working.

If your iMessage has suddenly stopped working and you’re seeing green bubbles instead of the customary blue ones, fret not. There are reasons behind it (even though it might feel the complete opposite) and you can easily fix the situation.

Diagnose Whether Problem is at your End

Before we go on to list the measures you can adopt, it’s important to make a diagnosis. It’s possible that the problem might not be at your end. The recipient might have shifted to a non-Apple device or simply turned off iMessage.

To check that, open a chat or start a new chat with another iMessage user by tapping the ‘Compose’ button.

If you’re starting a new chat, type the contact’s name/ number in the ‘To’ field. Then, see if their name/number is appearing in blue or green. As a refresher, green means text message, and blue means iMessage.

But if you’ve opened an ongoing chat, see if the message box is saying ‘Text Message’ or ‘iMessage’.

You can also type the message in both cases and see if the ‘Send’ arrow is green or blue.

If the message is going as an iMessage, then the problem is the previous recipient. In this case, there’s nothing you can do, save for asking the other user to turn on iMessage if indeed they have turned it off. If they have shifted to a non-Apple device, then you’ll have to resort to using standard text messages or a third-party app like WhatsApp to communicate with them since iMessage is exclusive to Apple devices.

It’s also possible that your contact might be using iMessage from their Apple ID instead of phone number or vice versa. But you’re trying to send the message where they aren’t using it. So, make sure to check both their phone number and Apple ID.

If the message to more than one Apple user is going as a text message, the problem might be at your end and you can go about fixing it.

Check iMessage Servers

While you’re at it, also make sure that the servers for iMessage aren’t down. If the servers for iMessage are down, the iMessage service across your contacts will stop working. Though rare, iMessage server outages do happen. And when they do, there’s nothing you can do but wait for it to get back up.

You can check the status of servers from Apple’s System Status page which lists all its services and their working condition. If iMessage has a green dot next to it, it’s working fine but a red dot will indicate that the servers are down.

Check that iMessage is On

Before going on any excursions to fix the problem, make sure that there isn’t any oversight on your part. If you recently changed your phone or reset it, for example, make sure that you turned iMessage on again since it is turned off in these events.

Open the Settings app and scroll down to ‘Messages’.

Then, make sure that the toggle for ‘iMessage’ is on.

If it isn’t, well there you have your culprit. Go on and turn the toggle on.

Even if it is already on, make sure that it doesn’t say “Waiting for Activation” or “Activation Unsuccessful” underneath it. Refer to the complete guide for this topic if it does say anything similar.


Why Does iMessage Send as Text Message?

Even if iMessage is on and everything else is in working order, it sometimes sends as a text message and at other times, an iMessage. iMessage sends as a text message when you don’t have an internet connection but do have cellular coverage otherwise. It can be a problem if you don’t have an SMS pack and it goes as a paid SMS. To make sure that the message is always sent as an iMessage and never resorts to sending as a text message, you can use any of the methods below.

Turn Off ‘Send as SMS’

When the option for ‘Send as SMS’ is on, your iPhone will automatically send the message as a text message if it can’t connect to the internet. Turning it off ensures that doesn’t happen whenever iMessage is unavailable.

Open the Settings app, scroll down and tap the option for ‘Messages’.

Then, scroll down and turn off the toggle for ‘Send as SMS’.

Now, any messages you send to your Apple contacts will only go as an iMessage. And in the event you don’t have an internet connection, the message will fail to send. If you ever need to send an SMS in an emergency, you’ll first have to enable the toggle from the settings again.

Use Apple ID to Send iMessage

When you’re using your phone number to send an iMessage, only then can your iPhone send a text message instead of an iMessage. Using your email address for iMessage solves that problem since you cannot send a text message from an email address.

Go to ‘Messages’ from the Settings app.

Then, tap the option for ‘Send & Receive’ under the option for iMessage.

Under ‘Start New Conversations from’, check your email ID instead of the phone number.

If you’re not using your Apple ID for iMessage, tap the option for ‘Use Apple ID for iMessage’ and sign in to your Apple ID. Then, tap it to use it once it’s listed there.

Similar to before, if you ever want to send an SMS in an emergency, you’ll have to switch to your phone number from these settings, while making sure that ‘Send as SMS’ is also enabled.

Send iMessage to the Apple ID

Instead of using your Apple ID to send the message, you can also choose to send the iMessage to the recipient’s Apple ID (if they have opted to receive iMessages at it, that is). Since text messages can’t be sent to an email address, this also ensures that your message will go as an iMessage and not an SMS.

Open the Messages app and tap the ‘Compose’ button in the top-right corner.

Then, in the ‘To:’ field, enter the recipient’s contact with the Apple ID if you have it saved or simply the email address. The Apple ID should appear in blue, tap it to select it and send your message.

In this case, if you ever want to send an SMS, you can simply start a new chat and choose their phone number this time. But even in this case, the option for ‘Send as SMS’ should be enabled.


iMessage is a great service to communicate with friends and family. And with the above fixes, you can be sure that you wouldn’t be accidentally charged for text messages while trying to send an iMessage.