Preparing the Messages App for Messaging
Like most of the apps described in this book, there are settings for the Messages app you can configure to choose how the app works for you. For example, you can configure iMessage so you can communicate via email addresses and configure how standard text messages are managed. You can also choose to block messages from specific people.
Setting Your Text and iMessage Preferences
Perform the following steps to set up Messages on your iPhone:
Move to the Settings app and tap Messages.
Set the iMessage switch to on (green).
Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage.
Type your Apple ID and associated password, and then tap Sign In.
Set the Show Contact Photos switch to on (green) if you want images associated with your contacts to appear in messages.
Tap Text Messaging Forwarding; if you don’t see this option, your cell phone carrier doesn’t support it and you can skip to step 12.
Set the switch to on (green) for a device on which you want to be able to receive and send text messages using your iPhone’s cell phone function (this doesn’t affect messages sent via iMessages). A code appears on the device for which you turned on the switch (in this case, Brad’s Mac Mini).
Type the code into the Text Message Forwarding box on the iPhone.
Repeat steps 7 through 9 to enable other devices to receive text messages via your iPhone’s cell phone function.
Slide the Send Read Receipts switch to on (green) to notify others when you read their messages. Be aware that receipts apply only to iMessages (not texts sent over a cellular network).
Slide the Send as SMS switch to on (green) to send texts via your cellular network when iMessage is unavailable. If your cellular account has a limit on the number of texts you can send, you might want to leave this set to off (white) so you use only iMessage when you are texting. If your account has unlimited texting, you should set this to on (green).
Tap Send & Receive. At the top of the iMessage screen, you see the Apple ID via which you’ll send and receive iMessages. On the rest of the screen are the phone number and email addresses that can be used with the Messages app.
To prevent an email address from being available for messages, tap it so it doesn’t have a check mark; to enable an address so it can be used for messages, tap it so it does have a check mark.
Tap the phone number or email address you want to use by default when you start a new text conversation. Each number or email address becomes a separate conversation in the Messages app, so choose the number or address you want to use most frequently to start new conversations.
Set the MMS Messaging switch to off (white) if you don’t want to allow photos and videos to be included in messages sent via your phone’s cellular network. You might want to disable this option if your provider charges more for these types of messages—or if you simply don’t want to deal with anything but text in your messages.
Set the Group Messaging switch to on (green) to keep messages you send to a group of people organized by the group. When enabled, replies you receive to messages you send to groups (meaning more than one person on a single message) are shown on a group message screen where each reply from anyone in the group is included on the same screen. If this is off (white), when someone replies to a message sent to a group, the message is separated out as if the original message was just to that person. (The steps in this chapter assume Group Messaging is on.)
Set the Show Subject Field switch to on (green) to add a subject field to your messages. This divides text messages into two sections; the upper section is for a subject, and you type your message in the lower section. This is not commonly used, and the steps in this chapter assume this setting is off.
Set the Character Count switch to on (green) to display the number of characters you’ve written compared to the number allowed (such as 59/160). When it is off, you don’t see a character count for messages you send. Technically, text messages you send via the cellular network are limited to 160 characters, so showing the character count helps you see where you are relative to this limit (iMessages don’t have a limit). I don’t use this setting so you won’t see it in the figures in this chapter, but if character count is important to you, you should enable this.
Use the Blocked option to block people from texting you (see the next task).
Tap Keep Messages.
Tap the length of time for which you want to keep messages.
If you tapped something other than Forever, tap Delete. The messages on your iPhone older than the length of time you selected in step 24 are deleted.
If you want messages from people or organizations not in the Contacts app to be put on a separate list, set the Filter Unknown Senders switch to on (green). When this switch is on, you see a separate tab for messages from people you might not know; notifications for those messages are also disabled. This can be useful if you receive a lot of messages from people you don’t know and don’t want to be annoyed by notifications about those messages. (This feature is explained in the section “Working with Messages from People You Might Not Know” later in this chapter.)
Choose the time after which you want audio messages to expire and be deleted from your iPhone. The options you see depend on your cell phone provider. For example, if you tap After 2 Minutes, audio messages are automatically deleted two minutes after you listen to them. This is good because audio messages require a lot of storage space, and deleting them keeps that space available for other things. Other choices may be After 1 Year or Never (if you don’t want audio messages to ever be deleted).
To be able to listen to audio messages by lifting the phone to your ear, set the Raise to Listen switch to on (green). If you set this to off (white), you need to manually start audio messages.
To have the images in your messages sent at a lower quality level, set the Low Quality Image Mode switch to on (green). This can be a useful setting if you or the recipients of your messages have limited data plans because lower quality images require less data to transmit and receive. If you tend to use all or most of your data allowance each month and send a lot of images, you might want to enable this setting and see if that reduces your data use.
Blocking People from Messaging or Texting You
To block a phone number or email address from sending you a message, you might want to have a contact configured with that information so you can identify blocked people later. Refer to Chapter 7, “Managing Contacts,” for the steps to create contacts. Creating a contact from a message you receive is especially useful for this purpose. When you start receiving messages from someone you want to block, use a message to create a contact. Then use the following steps to block that contact from sending messages to you:
Move to the Messages screen in the Settings app.
Swipe up the Messages screen.
Tap Add New.
Use the Contacts app to find and tap the contact you want to block. (Note that contacts without email addresses or phone numbers that don’t have the potential to send messages to you are grayed out and cannot be selected.) You return to the Blocked screen and see the contact on your Blocked list. Any messages from the contact, as long as they come from an email address or phone number included in his contact information, won’t be sent to your iPhone.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 to block other addresses or phone numbers for the person you are blocking or to block other people.