Messages is the app on your iPhone that is the home for all of your iMessage and SMS/MMS messages. It’s easy to use right out of the box, but there are some configuration options available to you, if you so desire. Here is a breakdown of the Messages settings, and what you can do with them to customize your messaging experience.

How to Enable iMessage

Of course, the first thing to do with Messages is to make sure that it’s configured correctly. For that, you need to head into the Settings app, and scroll down to where Messages is listed, and tap to see its settings page. At the top of that page is the toggle for iMessage – clearly, if you want to use iMessage, you’d better make sure that this is toggled to on (switch will be green). Without this turned on, the Message app will not iOS Messages app iconuse the iMessage system, and will only display text messages.How to Enable/Disable Read Receipt

The next setting you will see on the Messages settings page is labeled as “Send Read Receipts” and briefly explains that this setting will “Allow other to be notified when you have read their messages.” When enabled, whoever sent you a message will get a little mark below the message on their screen to indicate that the message was “Read.” Otherwise, if this setting is disabled, they will only see an indication for “Delivered” and be none the wiser as to whether you have read their note or not. If you tend to read messages but not reply right away, maybe you’d want to consider disabling this function. There’s nothing worse than sending a message to a friend, being notified that they’ve read it, and then you sit there and wait for a response that doesn’t come until much later. It might make your friend an ex-friend if they realize that you routinely ignore them!

How to Send Messages as SMS

Sometimes, iMessage goes down. It happens to everything. However, that doesn’t mean that your message is at the mercy of Apple engineers working to fix the problem. With this setting, when iMessage fails, it will send your message as an SMS. Your recipient will be able the get the message in a timely manner, though it will arrive in a green bubble rather than the iMessage blue bubble. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that depending on your cell phone plan, sending by SMS may incur charges to your account. Many cell plans come with an unlimited texting option, which makes this issue irrelevant. However, some plans have a limited number of messages or a charge per message. It’s just something to keep in mind if you decide to leave this setting enabled.

How to Set Up Send & Receive Info for iMessage

If you tap on the Send & Receive option in the Messages settings page, you will be taken to the iMessage setup screen. Here, you can specify the account information to link to iMessage. You will see a place to enter your Apple ID (which ties it all together), and then a place to specify how people can contact you (typically, your cell phone number and possibly an email address(es)), and from which of these contacts you will initiate conversations.

How to Configure SMS/MMS Options

When using iMessage, there is little to worry about, as it is free and there are no limits on message length. However, depending on the cellular plan, SMS or MMS messages may come with a fee. To help deal with this, there are a few settings that you can manage. If you have a reason to restrict or prevent MMS usage, there is a simple toggle to turn it on or off. As these kinds of messages can be delivered with a Subject line, there is an option to Show Subject Field, which gives you the option to specify the subject of your message (much like you would in an email). There is also a valuable option to display the Character Count, which will show you the number of characters that you have typed so far in your message. This is a great little tool to enable if you have a preset maximum text message length, especially if texts cost you anything! The last option in the SMS/MMS options page simply says “Blocked.” Tapping here will take you to a list where you can add contacts that you don’t want to hear from. By blocking a contact here, you will not receive any phone calls, messages, or FaceTime calls from them. This can be a very handy tool, especially if you run into a persistent telemarketer!

How to Delete Message History

A new feature to Messages in iOS 8 is the option to set deletion preferences for your message history. The default setting will just save all of your messages forever, as the app has always done before. However, over time the size of the app will increase as it accumulates all of your saved messages, especially if there are lots images and videos! To help manage this, and to release you from the burden of selectively going through and deleting memory hogging messages, you can change the message history setting. Apple has now provided two additional options: 30 Days and 1 Year. While it would be nice to have a more fine-tuned control over this, where you could specify just how long you’d like to save messages, these options are what we have for right now. If you select one of these options, your Messages history will delete messages that are older than you have specified, and it will maintain a rolling message window, so that you will only ever have access to the most recent 30 Days or 1 Year of messages. This would be great with a custom time option, but otherwise, it’s a fantastic way to curb a growing message history and to shrink the amount of storage the app needs to use!

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