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How to Use iMessage Like a Pro

You can finally edit and unsend an iMessage after you've sent it. But there's also a lot more you can do than that just that.

chat speech bubble on smart phone screen
akinbostanciGetty Images

iMessage is more than another messaging app. It consolidates all your iMessages (texts, photos and videos sent to you from another iPhone) and SMS and MMS messages (texts and media files sent to you from an Android smartphone) in one convenient place. And, quite frankly, it's the main reason why a lot of people don't trade in their iPhones for Androids. They don't want to be a green bubble.

This is because if you don’t have an iPhone, communicating with friends and family who do have iPhones can be a pain. People will randomly not receive your messages. Or you'll not receive theirs. You'll separate group chats into multiple different threads and, as a result, many of your iPhone-wielding family and friends may dislike you, like, for real.

If you have an iPhone, you use iMessage. And yes, you know how to send use to text people or react to different messages (with the 'thumbs up' or 'heart'), but iMessage is pretty versatile app. And Apple is constantly updating it with new features — and that's especially true with iOS 16, which just rolled out this September, and it brought a lot of highly-requested new features to iMessage.

How to Edit an iMessage

If you have iOS 16 (or later) on your iPhone, you can finally edit an iMessage after you send it. The catch is that you need to have sent the iMessage to somebody who has an iPhone (not an Android) and you can only edit it in the 15-minute window after you send it. After 15 minutes you can't edit it. This'll give you time to adjust grammatical errors (especially caused by autocorrect) when you see them.

  • Long-press on the iMessage you want to edit.
  • Select Edit and then make your edits.
  • When done, hit the 'Send' button again.

            You and the person receiving the iMessage will then see "Edited" next to it.

                How to Unsend an iMessage

                If you have iOS 16 (or later) on your iPhone, you can unsend an iMessage after you've sent it. The catch is that you only have two minutes after you originally sent it — after that, it's out in the world. The person receiving the iMessage also needs to be running iOS 16 (or the latest version of iPadOS, macOS or watchOS for Apple's other devices).

                • Long-press on the iMessage you want to unsend.
                • Select Undo Send.

                  So long as you hit Undo Send within the two minutes of originally sending the iMessage, it will work. In its place will be a gray area with the note "“You unsent a message" under it.

                  Mark an iMessage as Unread

                  If you have iOS 16 (or later) on your iPhone, you can mark an iMessage or SMS message that you've received as unread, which is a nice feature if you want to remind yourself to respond to it later, rather than promptly.

                  • Long-press on the iMessage you want to mark as unread.
                  • Select "Mark as Unread" when it appears.

                    How to pay your friends over iMessage

                    You can pay your friends over iMessage similar to how to use other payment sharing apps like Venmo or PayPal. The catch is that both people — you and the person you're sending/requesting money from — have to have an iPhone and Apple Pay Cash set up. If that's true for both people, you can then send money to each other. Here's how.

                    • Open iMessage.
                    • Open the conversation with the person you'd like to send or request cash.
                    • Tap the App Store button (next to the text box) and then tap the Apple Cash button. (If you see the Apple Cash button there already, you don't have to select the App Store button.)
                    • Enter the amount of money you want to send or request.
                    • Select Pay (or Request) and then Send.

                      How to share your location with a friend in iMessage

                      messaging icon
                      Getty Images / rambo182

                      If you don’t want to take the time to write out where you are over a text, sending an iMessage with your exact location on a map is a pretty simple solution. Here's how:

                      • Open iMessage.
                      • Open the conversation with the person you'd like to share your location with.
                      • Select the Details tab in the upper right-hand corner (it’s the “i” with a circle around it).
                      • Select "Send My Current Location."

                        This will send them your pinned location via Apple’s Maps. No, you can’t change the default to anything else (like Google Maps). If you select the “Share My Location” feature, located in the same window as “Send My Current Location,” iMessage will share your location over a specific period of time. If you’re moving around in a crowded location, like in a baseball stadium after the final inning or on a crowded street, this can help your friends find you more easily.

                        How to play games with friends in iMessage.

                        messaging icon
                        Getty Images / rambo182

                        iMessage apps were introduced several years ago with iOS 10, seamlessly integrating the messenger service with many of the apps you already use. Dropbox, Evernote and Yelp all have integrated iMessage apps, which makes sharing files, to-do lists, and information about places, easy. But being able to play games with your friends is arguably the best part of this feature.

                        You can access iMessage apps through the iMessage Apps Store, which you can find by opening iMessage, selecting a conversation, selecting the Apps Store icon in the lower left-hand corner, selecting the App Shelf button (four dots in a square formation), and downloading whichever apps you please.

                        Of the games you’ll find there, one of the best is GamePidgeon (free). Once downloaded, you can play a variety of games with your friends, like billiards, connect four, chess, checkers and word searches. Each time your turn ends, the app sends a message to your opponent telling them that it’s their turn, and vice versa.

                        How to delete iMessage Attachments that take up too much iPhone Storage.

                        messaging icon
                        Getty Images / rambo182

                        If you're a frequent texter, then your iMessages can take up a lot of your iPhone storage — especially if you're sending/receiving big files like photos, videos and GIFs. The good news is that you can free up a lot of storage on your iPhone by deleting these bigger files without completely deleting those iMessages.

                        • Open the Settings app.
                        • Select General.
                        • Select iPhone Storage.
                        • Select Messages.

                          From here you can see how much storage your iMessages are taking up as well as a breakdown of the various medias — photos, videos, GIFs and stickers — that are taking up big chunks of storage. You select these individual categories or the option that says "Review Large Attachments" and then consider deleting the things that take up a lot of space.

                          How to back up iMessages to iCloud.

                          messaging icon
                          Getty Images / rambo182

                          Apple introduced the ability to sync (and backup) your iMessages to iCloud when it rolled out iOS 11. And it's great for anybody who wants to makes sure they don't lose their iMessages if they lose their iPhone, or if they just want to send iMessages across all their Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac or even Apple Watch. The feature is officially called "Messages on iCloud" — here's how to turn it on.

                          • Open the Settings app.
                          • Select [your name] at the top of the screen.
                          • Select iCloud.
                          • Make sure Messages is turned on.

                            How to customize your read receipts

                            messaging icon
                            Getty Images / rambo182

                            Read Receipts is a feature that, when turned on, allows people to see if you've opened (and theoretically read) the iMessage that they've sent. It's convenient if you want to them to know you've seen a message without having to respond to it, but most people have it turned off because, well, they don't want the added pressure to respond right away.

                            You can turn Read Receipts on or off via Settings app, scrolling down and going to Messages, and toggling Read Receipts on or off. However, you can also customize if Read Receipts is turn or off for specific people. For example, you might want it turned off for almost everybody except for close friends and family. Here's how to turn Read Receipts on for a specific person.

                            • Open the iMessage conversation with that specific person.
                            • Tap the contact's photo (at the top of the screen).
                            • Tap Info.
                            • Turn on "Send Read Receipts."

                              If you want Read Receipts to be on for everybody except for specific contacts, you can do the reverse of the above steps.

                              How to hide notifications from annoying group chats.

                              messaging icon
                              Getty Images / rambo182

                              Group chats can get overwhelming. Especially if there quite a few people in the chat or if a few people are a little too active. Fortunately there are few ways to silence these group chats without actually having to leave them. You can turn on Focus mode on your iPhone, which allows you to create a custom schedule or timeframe where you don't receive notifications. If there's a specific group chat you want to silence, you can simply hide its alerts.

                              • Open iMessage.
                              • Scroll down to the group chat you want to silence.
                              • Hold down on that chat and select "Hide Alerts."

                                How to send a GIF in iMessage

                                messaging icon
                                Getty Images / rambo182

                                There are several ways send GIFs via iMessage, but the most straightforward is with Giphy or the GIF Keyboard by Tenor. Both are iMessage apps that you can access through the iMessage App Store. Once you’ve downloaded and opened either of these apps, simply search for a specific gif and share.

                                There’s also Google’s Gboard, which adds a Google icon next to your text bar. By clicking it, you can access Google’s immense search engine to find the perfect gif. Gboard is a particularly great gif finder, and it can do a lot of other things, like share restaurant reviews, YouTube videos, weather information and sports scores. (Note: Gboard is not an iMessage app, so you’ll need to download through the App Store proper.)

                                How to use Digital Touch to send handwritten messages.

                                messaging icon
                                Getty Images / rambo182

                                Digital Touch is a feature that Apple brought to the iPhone several years ago (with iOS 10. It allows you to draw sketches or effects with your finger and send then them as an iMessage. When opened, these messages will animate in front of the reader as if they were being written right in front of them.

                                • Open iMessage and the conversation with a specific contact.
                                • In the app bar (below the text box), tap the icon with the read heart and two fingers on it.
                                • From there, you can draw whatever message you want in the box below.
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