Some people just can’t turn their backs on the blue bubbles of iMessage. Cnet’s Jason Cipriani is one such addict. Even with a range of Android devices passing through his hand each year, his iPhone and it’s iMessages have an allure that he just can’t shake.  

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Android users and their green-bubbled messages. There are things that are just better on iOS, according to Cipriani, like the group conversation capabilities and being able to share uncompressed photos and videos through normals text messages. Although in fairness Android did recently roll out it’s rival to iMessage, it’s not reached that critical mass of users to be useful, yet. 

There’s a completeness in the Apple chat platform that’s tied into its massive range of features that are genuinely useful. You don’t just get to type a message or whiz off a link. Cipriani shared some of his little tricks to do on iMessage, here’s what he loves to do on the app…

Ready, get set

When you’re ready to really get to grips with your iMessage, the first thing you should do is go into Messages Settings and check out what options are there for you to personalize your messaging experience. Make sure that you check you’re happy with your send and receive settings.  

Anyone who works with tech will know how common it is to get asked stuff like why some messages don’t automatically show up on a Mac or iPad even when they display on an iPhone, or vice versa. It’s a pretty simple fix, you need to make sure that you’re not using your email address and stick to only using your phone number in the Send & Receive option of Message’s Settings.

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When you’re using iMessage on your Mac or iPad but don’t have an iPhone, you need to make sure that all the settings under Send & Receive match exactly. 

Once you’ve taken care of that, you can check the rest of the settings for things like read receipts being turned on for all of your iMessage conversations, deciding if you want green-bubble text messages going over to other devices or staying put on your iPhone, how long messages will get stored on your devices, etc. It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to look at each option and get everything set up exactly how you want it.  

For iMessage newbies who don’t know how to actually turn on the functionality, that comes at the end of this post, so scroll down quickly then head back here.  

Messages in the iCloud

One of the really useful benefits of using iMessage is having a regularly backed-up version of all of your chats within the app across all of your devices. Your iCloud is used to keep your messages backed-up and synced at all times, including your normal text messages. 

The simple steps go like this: go into Settings > tap on your name > iCloud and toggle the option next to Messages to the “on” position. 

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It’s worth noting that when you delete a conversation from one of your devices it’ll get rid of the data from everywhere. Further, if you’ve chosen to get rid of all conversations that are more than 90 days old, that means they’ll get deleted off the iCloud Messages backup, too. 

Hide and seek

To send and receive messages on the Apple Messages app is simple, as is telling which messages are iMessages and which are normal text messages. When a message shows up in green, it’s a text message, when the bubble is blue then the messages are going through as an iMessage. 

When your group chat is getting too excitable about Friday’s post-work beers or getting too deep into analyzing last night’s football game, you might want to make it go quiet for a while. Any conversation can be muted by swiping left across the conversation and choosing Hide Alerts.  

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There’s a recently added search feature in the app, too. To take advantage of it to find links, text, or attachments within any conversation, just open up the Messages app and tap the search bar to find what you’re looking for.  

Money talks

Apple Pay works pretty much just like Venmo or Square Cash and you can send and get money easily through an iMessage chat.  

The first thing that you need to do is set up Apple Pay Cash and get a debit card linked up to your account. Once that’s been dealt with, you can use Apple Pay inside and iMessage to pay your rent, send a request to your buddy to split the dinner bill, or just send a friend the money to buy their morning cup of Joe.  

When you send a message that includes a dollar amount, the number is highlighted as underlined. When you, or the person you sent the amount to, taps on it, Apple Pay will automatically launch and the number will be auto-filled, too, which is pretty neat.

Animated chats

Not everyone knows that you can add fun animations and cool stickers to messages on your iPhone. There’s also an emoji converter to make your messaging even funkier. To use these features, type your message and then tap on the Emoji button on your keyboard. iOS will automatically look for words in your message that can use an emoji. It makes it simple to find and use emojis without having to endlessly scroll for the one that you want. 

Other fun things that you can do in Messages include:

  • Add bubble or screen effects to individual messages
  • Drag and drop stickers from your sticker packs onto a photo or into a message easily
  • Send talking messages that include Memojis and Animojis
  • Send great GIFs with the in-built image search function

Memojis are the future

There’s even more fun to be had in Messages; you may have seen the option to make a complete set of profile icons with Memoji. It’s cool and loads of fun and super easy, too. Lots of people seem to skip over or overlook the option when they set up their iPhone and it’s a shame to miss out on all the possibilities. 

You can show off your sparkling personality through your photos or Memoji and when your friends realize all the possibilities too, your chat thread will come to life with everyone’s profile photos in your feed.

Image credit: theroco.com

To get things set up, first, you need to edit your photo and contact name. Open up the Messages app and go to the three-dot icon that’s in the top-right corner, from there select edit Name and Photo. You can choose to take a photo, select a Memoji, or choose a photo from your photo gallery. Once you’ve done this, each time you change your picture or name any contacts that you share your details with will get a request to use your new photo.

Read between the ticks

Perhaps the best feature of iMessage is the control you get over read receipts. They can be turned off for everyone who messages you in general, and then turned on for specific contacts that you choose. You can keep them turned off for all of your work and buddy chats but make sure your family and kids can still see you’ve got their important messages.  

A message from a co-worker or a tennis pal doesn’t have to be replied to immediately; you can read it and make that choice without feeling pressured, and keep your attention in your work or the task at hand.

To have read receipts turned on for selected contacts, you need to open up the thread of the iMessage conversation and then tap on the photo for the contact that’s at the top of the screen. From here, tap Info and select the option to Send Read Receipts

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Conversely, this is how you can turn off the read receipts for particular contacts if you want to have them left on in general. This means you can disable read receipts for that person who always bugs you for not replying the same instant you read their message whilst not affecting your conversations with everyone else.  

Down to business

iMessages aren’t just great for chatting with your friends, acquaintances, and workmates. Businesses also use the system and you can chat with them over iMessage to deal with issues about your transactions. You might need help with your order on Newegg, or need to chat with Goldman Sachs about a fraudulent charge on your Apple Card: all of these things and more can be done directly through Messages.  

It’s simple to spot a company that is set up with Apple Business Chat since most of them will have an option to “Chat with Messages” on their support pages or as an option in their App. At this point, you can’t just search for a business name on iMessages, though.  

Starting from scratch

When you first get your Apple device, whether it’s a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you’ll initially be asked to sign in to your iCloud account using your Apple ID. Once in, Apple’s systems will turn on iMessages automatically and link it up to your email address or addresses that you’ve set up for your Apple ID, along with the phone number of your iPhone. 

To use iMessage on an iPad or Mac, without a phone number, the system is going to solely rely on the email address that you use. 

On your iPhone or iPad, go into Settings and find Messages to ensure that the switch with the name iMessages at the top of the screen is set to “on”. Once you’ve got to grips with iMessages, there are a load of other features in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 that you can discover too. There are new features for iPhones and iPads that you should also check out, like the new, dedicated Dark Mode.