While texting is one of the most basic functions on your iPhone, sometimes your device may fail to send text messages. This could be for a wide range of reasons: perhaps you don’t have a network signal, or maybe you’ve simply used the wrong number.
Regardless, it’s usually a quick fix to get your iPhone sending SMS or MMS messages again, so don’t start panicking just yet.
1. Check Your Network Signal
Here’s a fun fact: it’s impossible to send an SMS (i.e. text) message without a mobile network signal. If your iPhone won’t send text messages, you should thus check your cell signal.
Try moving to an area with better reception if it’s weak or nonexistent. And if you’re in an area that usually has a good signal, contact your mobile network operator.
2. Is Your Mobile Plan Active?
You should next check whether you currently have an active mobile service plan. If you don’t have one, you won’t be able to send texts. While the vast majority of phone plans offer standard unlimited texting , you might have exceeded your monthly limit of text messages if you have a limited plan.
In either case, you should contact your mobile carrier. Activate a new plan if you don’t have one, or purchase a bigger SMS message allowance if you’ve run out of texts.
3. Have You Texted the Right Number?
Sending text messages to inactive or unused numbers is a recipe for failure and frustration. When sending an SMS message, make sure you enter the correct number. This should be no problem when you message a contact stored on your iPhone, but it can require care when entering a new number.
Take your time when entering numbers. If you continue to have trouble, contact your intended recipient by other means to confirm the correct number.
This last point is important. Sometimes, your contacts may change their numbers, or their mobile operator may disconnect them. This is why you should update your contact numbers as regularly as possible.
4. Make Sure SMS and MMS Are On
When you message a contact with an Apple device, your iPhone sends it via iMessage by default. These aren’t normal text messages, but rather messages sent using a Wi-Fi (or cellular data) connection between iPhone owners.
Because iMessages sometimes fail to send, your iPhone might instead try sending SMS messages, even to other iPhone users. However, you need to switch this feature on in Settings for it to work.
- Go to Settings.
- Scroll down and tap Messages.
- Tap the Send as SMS slider so it moves into the green “on” position.
Your iPhone can also send MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages. These are text messages that include some kind of media, such as images or video clips. You may need to enable these messages in Settings before you’re able to send them.
Also, your cell plan may not cover MMS messaging. As a result, any text message sent with multimedia will fail to send.
Here’s how you activate MMS messages:
- Go to Settings.
- Scroll down and select Messages.
- Hit the MMS Messaging toggle to set it to the green “on” position.
5. Are You in Airplane Mode?
Airplane mode prevents your iPhone from sending and receiving signals. This includes cellular and Wi-Fi signals, so you won’t be able to send or receive text messages.
Because of this, you should make sure that you’ve turned off Airplane Mode before trying to send messages. You can do this by opening your iPhone’s Control Center and tapping the airplane symbol. This symbol is grayed out whenever airplane mode is off.
On the iPhone X and later models, you need to swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to open Control Center. On earlier iPhones, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. As a bonus, sometimes toggling airplane mode on and off can clear up temporary signal hiccups, too.
We’ve looked at more about airplane mode in iOS if you’re curious.
6. Try Starting Again
If your iPhone can’t send text messages, try closing the Messages app and opening it again. This isn’t the most “scientific” method, but some users report that it’s sometimes effective.
You can also try deleting any Messages conversations that contain failed texts. Once again, it’s not obvious why this can be effective. But by clearing away such conversations, you may “free up” the Messages app to work properly again.
You can delete conversations in Messages by doing the following:
- Launch Messages.
- Swipe left on the conversation you’d like to delete.
- Tap Delete, and tap again to confirm.
- Finally, press the New Message icon in the top-right corner of the Messages screen to give it another try.
7. Restart Your iPhone
If you’ve tried all of the above, you can next try restarting your iPhone. Restarts clear temporary memory, so they can be a good way of removing any issues affecting how your iPhone works.
On the iPhone X and later, you can restart by holding the Side button and one of the Volume buttons. You then have to swipe the power off slider to the right.
On earlier iPhone models, you have to hold either the Top or Side button to bring up the power off screen.
8. Update iOS
You should always keep your iPhone updated with the latest version of iOS. New updates for iOS iron out software issues and bugs, so if your iPhone still can’t send text messages, it’s a good idea to update.
To update, your must have your iPhone connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. You should then do the following:
- Open Settings.
- Go to General.
- Tap Software Update.
- Select Download and Install.
9. Reset Your Network Settings
You shouldn’t take resetting your iPhone’s network settings too lightly. Network settings save data such as Wi-Fi networks and passwords, so it isn’t ideal to erase them. That said, it’s worth doing if you’ve tried everything above and your iPhone still won’t send text messages.
Here’s how to clear your iPhone’s network settings:
- Go to Settings.
- Open General.
- Scroll down and tap Reset.
- Press Reset Network Settings.
- Enter your passcode.
- Tap Reset Network Settings to confirm.
10. Still Not Working? Get Help
If your iPhone still won’t send SMS messages after all this, your last option is to contact your mobile operator. Try calling its customer service line. If they can’t help you, you should contact Apple. After ruling everything else out, your iPhone may have some kind of hardware issue.
However, at least one of the above methods will hopefully be enough to get your iPhone sending text messages again. And if it later develops other issues, fear not, because you always have plenty of ways of fixing even the most daunting of iPhone problems.