How to Stop iMessage Popping Up on Other Devices

Screenshot of Send & Receive in iPad/iOS Settings app

There's no need to reach for your iPhone just to send a text message. One of the coolest features of iMessage is the ability to send and receive texts from your iPhone, iPad or other devices. It also happens to be the one of the most annoying features for families that use the same Apple ID. By default, messages will be sent to all devices, which can cause a lot of confusion. But it's a relatively simply fix to disable this feature and stop text messages from popping up on all of the devices connected to that Apple ID.

According to Apple, we are doing it wrong in the first place. Officially, we should be using a separate Apple ID for each person and connect them using the Family Sharing feature. But Family Sharing is really a clumsy way of getting around the fact that the iPhone and iPad should support multiple profiles to make it easier for different people to use the device. Obviously, Apple would prefer we buy an iPhone and an iPad for every person in the family. But we aren't all made of money, so it's far easier and cheaper to share an Apple ID.

And luckily, there's another way to accomplish this task. You can simply tell your iPhone or iPad to only receive text messages from a certain set of addresses. This can include both your phone number and your email address.

How to Limit Which Text Messages Show on Your iPhone or iPad

iOS allows us to receive iMessages to a phone number or an email address. Normally, this is your iPhone's phone number and the primary email address associated with your Apple ID, but you can add another email address to the account and receive text messages sent to that email address. This means multiple people can share the same Apple ID and still route text messages to specific devices.

  • First, go into your iPhone or iPad's settings. (Find out how to do this...)
  • Next, scroll down the left-side menu and tap Messages.
  • In the middle of the Messages settings, tap the Send & Receive button.
  • This screen will list the phone numbers and email addresses associated with the Apple ID account. Simply uncheck the phone number or email account you want to block from iMessage. Yes, you can choose to only send and receive to an email address and remove your actual phone number completely.
  • At least one phone number or email address must be checked. If you don't want to use iMessage at all, you can turn off the feature in the previous screen.
  • If you choose to use two addresses such as your phone number and your email address, you can choose which one to use by default via the "Start New Conversations From" setting. This setting will only show up if you choose to send messages from two sources.

How to Add a New Email Address for iMessage

Would you like to send and receive messages from an email address different than the one(s) listed? Unfortunately, Apple removed the ability to add a new email address from your iPhone or iPad settings, but you can easily add one using Apple's website.

  • First, go to using your web browser. You can do this from your PC or from your iPhone or iPad.
  • Log into your Apple ID account.
  • To the right of the account section, click or tap the Edit button.
  • Scroll down to the "Reachable At" section of the account settings and choose Add More...
  • Type in the email address you want to use and choose Continue.
  • Apple will immediately prompt you for a code sent to the email address used. You will need to check your email address for the message and enter the code into the boxes to proceed.

What About Phone Calls?

FaceTime works similar to iMessage. Calls are routed to a phone number or an email address associated with the account, and these addresses are turned on by default. So if you receive a lot of FaceTime calls, you may see them popping up on all of your devices. You can disable these the same way you disabled iMessage. Instead of going into Messages in settings, tap on FaceTime. It's right below Messages. You will see the addresses listed in the middle of these settings and can uncheck any email address or phone number from which you don't want to receive calls.

If you are interested in placing phone calls on your iPad and routing them through your iPhone, you can do this in your iPhone's settings. Go into the Settings app, tap Phone from the menu and tap "Calls on Other Devices". Once you turn the feature on, you can devices will be able to make and receive calls.

Should You Set Up Family Sharing Instead?

Family Sharing works by setting up a primary Apple ID and then connecting sub accounts to it. The sub accounts can be designated as an adult account or child account, but the primary account must be an adult account. Most (but not all) apps can be purchased once and downloaded to any of the accounts.

One cool feature of family sharing is the ability to receive a confirmation dialog box when one of your kids attempts to download an app from the app store. You can decide whether or not to allow the purchase without even being in the same room. Of course, this can backfire with younger kids who may spam purchases.

But overall, it is far easier to simply have one Apple ID and iCloud account for the whole family. If you turn off automatic downloads for apps, movies and music, each device will act like a separate account. You will need to disable iMessage and FaceTime from going to every device, but after that, it is generally smooth sailing. And for kids, it is actually quite easy to childproof an iPad or iPhone.