How to Fix iMessage Activation Errors

Nine ways to get iMessage working again and ditch the green bubbles

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The iMessage activation error is typically accompanied by one or more symptoms. You may be able to send texts but find that your blue text bubbles are instead green. In other cases, you won’t be able to send text messages at all, messages may show up in the wrong order, or you might see errors that say your texts haven’t been delivered after you try to send them.

When this error occurs, you may also see one of these messages:

  • iMessage Activation: An error occurred during activation. Try again.
  • Waiting for activation…
  • An error has occurred during activation.
  • iMessage is Signed Out. An error occurred and your account is signed out of iMessage. You may miss messages as a result. Please go to settings and address this issue.

What Causes iMessage Activation Errors?

When you experience an iMessage activation error, you’ll typically find that iMessage won’t work and that you’ll only be able to send and receive normal text messages. 

When you experience an iMessage activation error, you’ll typically see one or more of these things happen:

  • You can’t send or receive text messages at all.
  • You can send and receive messages, but your blue text bubbles are green.
  • Messages show up in the wrong order.
  • iMessage says that text messages haven’t been delivered.

How to Fix an Unsuccessful Activation in iMessage

To fix an unsuccessful activation in iMessage and other iMessage activation errors, attempt each of these solutions in order:

It can take up to 24 hours for the waiting for activation message to go away after the problem has been resolved.

  1. Restart your iPhone. This is the simplest fix, so it should be the first thing you try. If your phone is configured properly and there’s no problem with Apple’s servers, then restarting will typically fix the problem.

    • iPhone X and later: Press and hold the Side and Volume Down buttons, then swipe the Power Off slider.
    • Earlier models: Press and hold Sleep/Wake, then swipe the Power Off slider.
  2. Check Apple’s server status page. This page displays the current status of various Apple services along with information about scheduled maintenance periods.

    If iMessage is listed as unavailable or down, wait until it's listed as available and then try to activate again. You may need to restart your phone after the servers have come back up.

  3. Check your iPhone’s internet connection. If you find a connectivity problem, you'll need to fix your iPhone's Wi-Fi connection or figure out why the iPhone has no service, then try iMessage again.

    The solution may be as simple as turning the Wi-Fi and cellular data in the control center off and then on again, or turning off airplane mode.

  4. Verify iMessage is on. If iMessage isn’t on, it won’t work.

    This fix is unlikely to be necessary if you received an iMessage activation error, which indicates that it is turned on, but it’s important to check before you attempt the next fix.

    If you do find that it was off, open Settings > Messages, and check the iMessage toggle. If it’s gray, tap it to turn it on.

  5. Refresh your iMessage connection. If iMessage has worked in the past, you may be able to fix the problem by refreshing your connection. To do this, you’ll need to turn off iMessage, restart your phone, and turn it back on.

    Start by opening Settings > Messages, and tap the iMessage toggle to turn it off. Then restart your phone, open Settings > Messages again, and tap the iMessage toggle to turn it back on.

  6. Sign out of Apple ID, then sign back in. Signing out of Apple ID on your phone will force iMessage to reconnect when you sign back in, unless there’s another issue preventing it.

    Open Settings, tap your name, and tap Sign Out. Then restart your iPhone, open Settings, and tap Sign in.

  7. Verify your time and date settings. If the time and date on your iPhone aren’t correct, it can prevent iMessage from activating or working correctly. Fix the time and date settings if they’re wrong, then check to see if iMessage works.

    Navigate to Settings > General > Date & Time, and verify that the information is correct. If it isn’t, you can tap the Set Automatically toggle to turn it off and set the time and date manually.

    If the Set Automatically toggle was off, and your time or date was wrong, turning the toggle switch on may fix your problem.

  8. Update your iPhone. If your system is out of date, that can prevent iMessage from working correctly. Check for any available updates, install, and then check iMessage.

  9. Factory reset your iPhone. This will delete everything on your device, so make sure to try all of the other fixes and then backup your iPhone before you proceed.

    It can take up to 24 hours for the iMessage Activation Error to resolve, so you may want to wait to see if you’ve already fixed the problem before you attempt a factory reset.

If you still see an iMessage activation error a full day after attempting these fixes, there could be a problem with your device or your carrier. The exception is that if Apple’s servers are still having problems after 24 hours, all you can do is wait for those problems to resolve.

If Apple’s servers are up, and none of the fixes worked for you, then you’ll need to contact Apple support or your cellular service provider for additional assistance. The problem is more likely to be due to an issue with your carrier if you're unable to send text messages at all.

  • Why are my iPhone text messages not sending?

    If your iPhone text messages are not sending, quit and restart the Messages app, connect to a network, and turn Airplane Mode on and off. If you still have problems, restart the iPhone, check the iMessage system status, and confirm that your message type is supported.

  • How do I fix the “Unknown Message Not Found” error on my iPhone?

    To fix the iPhone “Unknown Message Not Found” error, check your mobile reception, then turn iMessage and FaceTime off and on again. If you still have trouble, turn Airplane Mode on and off, update iOS, and restart your iPhone.

  • How do I fix the “iMessage is signed out” error?

    If you see the “iMessage is signed out” error, check the iMessage server, restart your iPhone, and turn iMessage on and off. If you still have issues, update your phone and check the date, time, and region settings.

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