How To Send and Reply To Messages on iPhone

Sending and replying to text messages is one of the most common tasks performed on the iPhone. Apple’s Messages app provides a simple yet robust platform for iPhone users to have conversations over SMS and MMS with contacts using iPhones or other devices.

This comprehensive guide will walk through the key features and best practices for sending and receiving messages on the iPhone. Whether you just got your first iPhone or are looking to improve your messaging skills, you’ll learn the ins and outs of crafting effective messages and managing ongoing conversations.

Recent Released:How to Turn On/Off Contact Sharing iOS 17

Overview of the Messages App

The pre-installed Messages app is the default app used for sending texts on the iPhone. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Supports SMS and MMS messaging
  • Syncs across iOS devices signed in to the same Apple ID
  • End-to-end encryption for privacy
  • Fun features like bubble effects, full-screen effects, tapbacks, and more

The Messages app automatically detects whether to send an SMS or MMS. SMS is used for plain text, while all media (photos, videos, GIFs, audio) get sent as an MMS.

Group chats are also supported in Messages, allowing multiple recipients to participate in the same conversation.

Sending a New Message

Starting a new text conversation only takes a few taps. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the compose button (pencil and paper icon) in the top-right corner.
  3. Enter the name, number, or Apple ID of the recipient.
  4. Type your message in the message field.
  5. Hit return on the keyboard or tap the blue send icon to send it.

Your message will now be delivered to the recipient (as long as they have an activated phone number or registered Apple ID).

Choosing Recipients

When choosing recipients, you have a few options:

  • Enter a phone number: This will send as a standard SMS text message. Keep in mind SMS messages may incur extra fees for your carrier plan.
  • Enter a name: If you have this contact stored in your iPhone, it will autofill their number. Again, it will send as an SMS.
  • Enter an Apple ID: Sending to someone’s Apple ID uses data to transmit iMessages instead of SMS. As long as the recipient has an iPhone or Mac signed in to that Apple ID, they will receive the message.
  • Pick a contact: You can also tap the “+” button to select a contact from your contact list instead of typing anything in.

Essential Settings

Under Settings > Messages, there are a few key options to configure:

  • Text Message Forwarding: Choose which devices signed in to your Apple ID can share messages.
  • Send as SMS: If disabled, the message will only be sent over data via Apple servers, not through your carrier.
  • Send Read Receipts: When enabled, senders can see if you’ve read their messages.

Replying to Received Messages

When you receive a new text message, you’ll get a notification on your iPhone. Here’s how to view and reply:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Tap on the conversation with the new message.
  3. View the full context of the conversation thread.
  4. Tap on the text box at the bottom to compose your reply.
  5. Hit return or tap send.

This will continue the existing conversation with the sender right within the same thread.

Replying from Notifications

You can also quickly reply without leaving the app you’re currently in. After receiving a Messages notification:

  1. Pull down the notification banner.
  2. Tap on the new message.
  3. Compose your reply in the response field.
  4. Send it off.

These quick replies let you fire off fast responses on the fly when getting an alert.

Additional Reply Options

There are also some other handy ways to respond to received texts:

  • Tapback: Firmly tap on a message bubble then choose an emoji reaction from the menu.
  • Lift to Wake: Raise your phone to view the message then swipe left to reply.
  • Dictation: Tap and hold the mic icon while drafting a message to dictate your reply.

Tips for Effective Messaging

Now that you know how to send and receive messages, here are some pro tips for messaging like an iPhone pro:


Emojis and GIFs are a great way to inject personality into your messages. iOS has over 3,000 emojis and counting. The emoji keyboard makes these easy to access when messaging.

Read Receipts

Enable read receipts under Settings > Messages to see when your recipient has viewed your texts. This ensures your urgent messages aren’t missed.


Fine-tune notifications under Settings > Notifications > Messages. You can mute non-critical threads while keeping important chats set to Priority to always notify you.

Share Photos

Enrich conversations by tapping the app icon above the keyboard to take photos directly within an ongoing Messages thread or browse your photo library.


Play around with bubble effects like Loud, Gentle, and Invisible Ink to keep your conversations creative and fun.

iCloud Sync

As long as your iPhone is backed up to iCloud, you can pick up messaging threads from any device signed in to your Apple ID for seamless coordination.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you ever run into issues with sending or managing messages, here are some troubleshooting tips:

Contact Not Receiving Messages

  • Confirm the recipient has an activated device and cellular plan or Apple ID setup.
  • Check if their phone number changed if previously working.
  • Ensure their device storage isn’t full which can prevent new message delivery.

Messages Out of Order

  • This can occur when switching between WiFi and cellular networks.
  • Toggle airplane mode briefly to re-establish connection which may resolve.

Can’t Launch Messages App

  • Hard close and re-launch the app if crashing.
  • Reboot your iPhone if force closing Messages doesn’t resolve.

Missing Features

  • Make sure your iPhone software is updated to the latest iOS version for full messaging capabilities and bug fixes.

Key Terminology Summary

SMS“Short Message Service” – Standard text messaging protocol for basic messaging between cell phones over cellular networks.
MMS“Multimedia Messaging Service” – Allow sending multimedia content like photos, videos, audio, GIFs, contact cards, and more between capable phones.
iMessageApple’s proprietary messaging network for transmitting texts, photos, videos and more over WiFi or cellular data between Apple devices. Uses data rather than costly SMS.
NotificationAlerts about new messages received while using other apps or with phone locked. Can customize urgency and sounds.
Read ReceiptFeature that allows senders to see when the recipient has viewed a particular message. Helpful for time-sensitive messages.
TapbackQuick way to react to a specific text with an emoji icon like thumbs up or a heart.
QR CodeScannable square code that makes it easy to instantly add someone as a new Messages contact by scanning their personalized code instead of needing to fully exchange contact details in person.
DictationAudio-to-text transcription feature allowing you to dictate the contents of a message reply just by speaking out loud instead of typing.
StickersVisual stickers to spice up message threads beyond just emoji, often branded sticker packs available for Messages.
Live TextWith iOS 15+ you can highlight text within photos in Messages and copy or share that text content as if it were digital text instead of just a picture.


And that covers everything you need to become a master at sending and receiving text messages on the iPhone. Whether crafting new messages or continuing ongoing conversations, the techniques outlined in this guide will help you communicate efficiently.

From understanding the capabilities of the Messages app itself to configuring optimal settings and troubleshooting problems, you now have the knowledge to get the most out of messaging on your iPhone.

So next time you need to reach out to a friend, family member, or colleague, you’ll know how to craft the perfect text conversation.

Leave a Comment