If you own an iPhone, chances are you’ve used the Messages app at least a few times. In fact, it’s probably the most used app on your iPhone.
There are a lot of great things about iMessage that make it an ideal messaging platform, like the fact that it’s completely encrypted and works over the internet. But Apple’s free service has some quirks that are helpful to know about. It also has features you may have never used before.
Unless you enjoy mentally torturing others with read receipts, turn them off. That way people won’t see that you’ve intentionally — or “accidentally” — not texted them back for five hours.
From the Settings app, go to “Messages” and uncheck “Send Read Receipts.”
Tap and hold on the left camera and right microphone icons to send video and audio messages.
You can tap and hold on to these two icons on either side of the text entry box to send quick photos, videos, and audio messages. Video and audio messages will self-delete shortly after they’re opened.
Use your email address to send iMessages if you’d rather not use your actual phone number.
Your iMessage account can be associated with email addresses, not just your phone number. You can change your default sending address to any email you have if you’d rather not use a phone number.
This can be useful if you mainly message from a Mac or an iPad or don’t want people knowing your phone number.
Customize which email addresses others can use to reach you with iMessages.
You can receive iMessages from not just your phone number, but any email address you have set up on your device.
Filter messages from people you don’t have in your contacts list.
This can be a good setting to enable if you’re one of those people who gets a lot of messages.
Name a group message.
Tap the “Details” button on the top right of a group message and you can create a custom name for the thread.
Mute a group message or leave it entirely.
If you’d rather not get notifications from a group message or leave the thread entirely, you can do so from the “Details” menu.
Block numbers from being able to send you messages.
From the Settings app, go to the Messages menu and then Blocked. You can add numbers to keep them from being able to text, call, or FaceTime you.
Delete individual messages in a conversation.
Tap and hold on an individual message and tap “More…”
Then you’ll be able to select messages and delete them without deleting the whole message thread.
Hide a contact’s last name or just show their last initial in a message thread.
There’s a way to hide your contacts’ last names from displaying at the top of your conversations. You can just show their last initial or first or last name only.
From the Settings app, go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and tap “Short Name” from the Contacts section to change your preference.
Automatically delete old conversations to save storage.
From the “Messages” section of the Settings app, go to “Keep Messages” and you can choose to have threads auto-delete after 30 days or one year to conserve storage on your iPhone.
Unregister your iMessage account if you decide to ditch your iPhone and save yourself a serious headache.
If you decide to switch to an Android phone, it’s important that you unregister your iMessage account with Apple. This will keep messages sent to your phone number from being stuck in iMessage purgatory and never showing up on your Android device.
To unregister your number from Apple’s iMessage servers, enter your phone number into this Apple webpage.