Apple’s iMessage is a great free service that allows you to interact with friends, friends, family and co-workers who also have an iOS device or a Mac. You can send text messages, photos and even videos. Not only is iMessage free, but it also helps you bypass costly SMS and MMS messaging charges associated with your carrier. Those of you with a WiFi-only iPad or iPod touch can also enjoy sending messages without a cellphone plan using your Apple ID. Read on for our full guide on how to setup iMessage on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

setup iMessage

There is no actual iMessages app. The service gets bundled into the default Messages app. Let’s take a look at settings, which will differ on iPhones when compared to a WiFi only device like an iPod touch.

iMessage Setup on iPad, iPod touch
Navigate to Settings > Messages > Make sure the toggle switch for iMessage is set to ‘On
Read Receipts: By enabling this option, you are allowing others who send you iMessages to be notified when you have read their messages.
Send & Receive: Here you will find a list of addresses and phone numbers where you can be reached by iMessage. If you have an iPhone and setting up a secondary WiFi device, you can have people contact you over iMessage using that number. You’ll also find a list of email accounts that you can be reached.

iMessage on iPod touch, iPad

Tip: If you have a dot mac account, the prefix to your email account can be used in conjunction with and domains.

iMessage Setup on iPhone
The directions above apply to the iPhone , but with the addition of cellular capabilities comes a few more settings options.

iMessage setup iPhone

Send as SMS: This setting when turned on uses SMS as an alternative when iMessage is unavailable. If you don’t have a text plan, you’ll want to turn this off. As a reminder, messages sent through iMessage can only be shared with iOS devices running iOS 5 or greater. If you have friends or family members with an Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry, you’ll have to default to sending SMS, so carrier rates do apply.

MMS Messaging: If set to ‘Yes’, you can send photos and videos.
Character Count: SMS messages allow for a maximum of 160 characters. If you go past that number, you’ll effectively be sending two messages. If you have a limited text message bucket, going over your limit could easily ramp up your message usage.

character count sms iPhone

Tip: When you enable the SMS character count on iPhone, you will not see the counter when you first start typing a message. As you reach the second line of your message, the character count will appear just above the send message.

Bonus Tip: When sending a message in Messages, those sent in blue are iMessages. Green messages are those being sent using your carrier.

iMessage is a great way to keep in touch with your family and friends without having to use SMS/MMS services. It’s completely free and provides iOS devices like the iPod touch and WiFi iPad with an end to end messaging service. When you add it to your Mac, it makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with the people that matter most.