iPhone and iPad Mac

How to Fix iMessage Not Working on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad

Kris Wouk 08-12-2019

When you send messages from your iPhone, some display in blue while others are green. The blue messages use iMessage, Apple’s proprietary messaging service, while the greens are standard SMS/MMS messages. If you turn iMessage off, all your messages send as standard messages and display in green.


What if you didn’t turn off iMessage, but your messages all display in green anyway? This is a problem, and iMessage doesn’t exactly make it easy to figure out what’s going wrong.

iMessage Not Working? Make Sure You Actually Have a Problem

Before you assume the worst, it can’t hurt to examine the problem. Are you sure iMessage isn’t working with anyone, or is it just not working with one contact?

If you’re having trouble with iMessage when sending messages to a single contact, the problem could be on their end. On the other hand, if iMessage isn’t working with any of your contacts, and you know they’re using iMessage, the problem is probably happening with your device.

Send a Test Message (or Two)

If you haven’t already, try sending a message to a friend or family member you know uses iMessage. If iMessage doesn’t work with them, try contacting another person that you know uses iMessage. This will help you figure out if the problem is on your device.

You may not have multiple contacts you can check with if most of your friends use Android. In this case, if you have multiple devices with iMessage, try sending messages with each. That way you can see if it works on your Mac but not your iPhone, for instance.


If iMessage is working but your messages aren’t delivering, this is another subject entirely. Instead, read our guide to fixing “iMessage Not Delivered” on your iPhone How to Fix "iMessage Not Delivered" on Your iPhone Seeing an "iMessage not delivered" error? Here are some essential tips and fixes for when iMessages won't deliver. Read More .

Make Sure iMessage Is Configured Correctly

Even though you have iMessage enabled, you may not have it enabled for a specific number. This is easy to check. On an iPhone or iPad, open Settings and scroll down to Messages. It sounds obvious, but make sure the iMessage slider is enabled here. Then, find and tap on Send & Receive.

Here you’ll see the phone numbers and email addresses you can associate with iMessage. Make sure all the numbers and email addresses you want to use are enabled.


On a Mac, open the Messages app. In the Messages menu in the upper-left corner of the screen, select Preferences, then go to the iMessage tab. Make sure any number or email address you want to use with iMessage is enabled here.

Viewing enabled iMessage numbers and email address on macOS

If you’re having issues on multiple devices, repeat these steps on any device you’re having issues with.

Try a Reboot

On your Mac, you likely end up rebooting at least once a week, but this is less common on an iPhone or iPad. This alone can help, but there’s another step you’ll want to take to resolve iMessage issues. You’ll want to turn off iMessage, reboot, then turn it back on.


On an iPhone or iPad, launch Settings, then scroll down to Messages. The iMessage toggle is located at the very top of the screen. Turn it off, reboot your device, then turn it back on using the same method.

On a Mac, launch the Messages app and select Preferences in the app menu at the top-left of the screen. Go to the iMessage tab, and under your Apple ID, uncheck Enable this account. Reboot, then turn it back on.

iMessage disabled on macOS

To be extra thorough, you may want to do this for every device you use with iMessage.


Sign Out and Back In to iMessage

This is another method so simple that it can’t hurt to try: log out of, then back into, iMessage.

On an iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app and scroll down to Messages. Here, scroll down and tap Send & Receive. In this menu, tap on your Apple ID at the top of the screen. In the dialog that pops up, tap Sign Out.

After you sign out, tap on Use your Apple ID for iMessage. In the dialog that pops up, it will show your Apple ID and ask if you want to log in with that. Tap Sign In to log in with that ID.

On a Mac, open the Messages app. Select the app menu in the upper-left portion of the screen and open Preferences, then choose the iMessage tab.

In the top-right of this screen, click on Sign Out, then click the button also labeled Sign Out. You’ll immediately see a login screen, with your Apple ID email address already entered. Enter your password, then choose Next.

Signing out of iMessage on macOS

Reset Network Settings

This is an iOS-only option, and worth trying if iMessage still isn’t working after trying the above fixes. Resetting your network settings is a fix for several iPhone and iPad issues, and can often fix iMessage-related problems.

Launch Settings, then scroll down and select General. Here, scroll again and select Reset at the bottom of the screen. Finally, tap on Reset Network Settings.

Don’t worry about losing any data; this will only reset network settings. All apps and files on your iPhone or iPad will remain untouched. However, your phone will forget saved Wi-Fi networks, so you’ll need to enter their passwords again.

Other Possible iMessage Fixes Worth Trying

There are a few other possible fixes you can try when iMessage is not working. If you’re not receiving iMessages on a certain device, one simple tip is to try sending a message from that device. This is something that several Mac and iOS users on the internet have reported working for them. It might sound strange, but it’s worth a try.

Another possible fix is to check if a macOS or iOS update is available. This is especially true if you’ve recently updated. Apple issues updates to improve your device and fix bugs, but they can sometimes introduce new bugs. If this is the case, Apple may have already issued a new update with a fix.

Finally, if nothing else works, you can try contacting Apple support. They may have options beyond what we’ve compiled here.

Having Trouble With Regular Text Messages Too?

Hopefully, one of the above fixes has your iMessages working again. If you’re having the problem on multiple devices, you’ll need to repeat the step that worked for you on that device. If that doesn’t fix it, hopefully another one of the steps will.

What if your standard SMS or MMS messages aren’t working? Fortunately, we have some fixes for that as well. Take a look at our list of tips to try if your iPhone isn’t sending text messages iPhone Won't Send Text Messages? 10 Possible Fixes to Try Having an issue where your iPhone won't send text messages? Check out these troubleshooting tips to get back to texting fast. Read More .

Related topics: iMessage, Instant Messaging, iPhone Tips, Troubleshooting.

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  1. Ryan
    November 17, 2019 at 4:44 am

    Hey guys I tried everything to no avail. For me, only way of getting iMessage or MSWord text to work I tried changing my system preferences/ display/color to Rec. ITU-R BT.709-5, also works on Generic RGB & sRGB IEC 61966-2.1. Works like a charm.

  2. Carol
    September 1, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Messages won't even *open* on my MacBook Pro, so I can't even get into Preferences. (It's working fine on both my iPhone and iPad.) Have had 3 different conversations with Apple...the last being lengthy with a manager. He got my approval and went into my computer, had me open in safe mode, had me delete a bunch of files, he even had me reinstall Mojave - and still Messages won't open. His last resort was to have me wipe the machine. I told him I'd back up my system and get back to him.

    Before I do something that drastic...any suggestions??