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iMessage not delivered? 6 ways to troubleshoot

There are several ways you can troubleshoot when your iMessages won’t deliver.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • If an iMessage isn’t delivered properly, it’s not an unusual issue and doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.  
  • The most common solution is to make sure you have a reliable network connection. 
  • You should also try restarting your iPhone.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’ve had an iPhone for any length of time, you are no doubt familiar with a common glitch: While sending iMessages from the Messages app, finding that one or more iMessages are not delivered.

Few things can be more frustrating than when a message doesn’t get stamped with the reassuring “Delivered” label. But you’re not helpless — here are the most common ways you can troubleshoot and solve this annoying problem.  

Wait for the recipient’s phone to connect

The Messages app for iOSIf you don’t see the “Not Delivered” error, the recipient’s phone might simply not be receiving messages.

Dave Johnson

All delivery failures aren’t the same. In one situation, you might send a message but not see any sort of “delivered” label appear under the message bubble; in other cases, you’ll see a red warning that says “Not Delivered.” In the first case — it simply doesn’t say it has been delivered, even after several minutes, keep in mind that the most likely explanation is that the recipient’s phone is turned off, in Airplane Mode, or has a poor connection.

Either way, the message hasn’t yet been delivered, but it will eventually. Be patient. For the other case, see the next solution.  

Check your network connection

If you see the dreaded red exclamation mark and the message “Not Delivered” under a message, the most common cause is a simple lack of internet access. iMessage needs access to the internet, either via WiFi or a cellular signal, so if you have no service, a network issue, or are in Airplane Mode, the message can’t be sent. Check your WiFi and cell signal to make sure your phone can communicate with the outside world. 

Try sending it again or as a text message

The Messages app for iOSYou can tap the exclamation mark to try sending it again.

Dave Johnson

If your message hasn’t been delivered and you know that you have a reliable network connection — or at least you’ve just acquired a good internet connection — try to resend the message. Tap the exclamation mark and then choose Try Again from the pop-up menu. If it still fails, you can see if the problem is specific to iMessages by trying Send as Text Message. Your phone will try to send the message as an SMS message, and while that may work, remember that this will be sent using your phone’s cellular texting plan and you might need to pay a fee.  

Restart your phone

If you have gotten this far and you have one or more messages that will not work, restart your iPhone. There might be a glitch with your Messages app or your phone’s network connection that turning it off and back on again will solve. 

Enable iMessage if it’s disabled

The Settings app for iOSMake sure iMessages are enabled on your phone.

Dave Johnson

You probably know that iMessages use a blue message bubble. If you send one or more messages and they appear in green bubbles, then that means the messages were sent using SMS instead. 

There are a few reasons why this might have happened. You might be sending the message to a non-Apple device. Only Apple devices support iMessage, so this isn’t unusual. But it’s also possible that iMessage might be turned off on your phone or the recipient’s device. To see if it’s disabled on your own phone, start the Settings app and tap Messages, then ensure iMessage is on by swiping the button to the right. 

Make sure iMessage is activated

It’s also possible that you might see an error message in Messages that says “Waiting for Activation.” Generally, if you see this message when trying to send an iMessage, it means you got the iPhone less than a day ago and all of the phone’s services are not yet fully activated.

The best course of action in that situation is to wait for the phone to finish activation. But if you’ve had the phone for more than a day and you still see that message, make sure that your phone has the latest software update installed and contact your carrier to see if there’s a problem with your messaging setup. If problems persist, contact Apple’s customer support for assistance.

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