How to Stop iMessage Popping Up on Other Devices

Keep your texts on your phone

Screenshot of Send & Receive in iPad/iOS Settings app

One of the coolest features of iMessage is the ability to send and receive texts from your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or Mac. By default, messages will appear on all devices, which can cause a lot of confusion. But it's a relatively simple 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 should be using a separate Apple ID for each person and connect them using the Family Sharing feature. But it's far easier to share an account. You can tell your iPhone or iPad to only receive text messages from a certain set of addresses, like your phone number and your email address. Here's how.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 8 and later.

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

iOS allows us to receive messages from 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 that way. Adding email addresses means multiple people can share the same Apple ID and still route text messages to specific devices.

  1. First, go into your iPhone or iPad's settings.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Scroll down the left-side menu and tap Messages.

    The Settings app on an iPad with the Messages heading highlighted
  3. In the middle of the Messages settings, tap the Send & Receive heading.

    Messages settings on an iPad with the
  4. This screen lists the phone numbers and email addresses associated with the Apple ID account. Uncheck the phone number or email account you want to block from iMessage.

    You can choose to only send and receive to an email address and remove your actual phone number completely.

    The Send & Receive screen on an iPad
  5. You must select at least one phone number or email address. If you don't want to use iMessage at all, you can turn off the feature in the previous screen by tapping the switch next to iMessage to off/white.

    The Messages section of iPad settings with the iMessage toggle highlighted
  6. 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

Apple removed the ability to add a new email address from your iPhone or iPad settings, but you can add one using Apple's website.

  1. First, go to https://appleid.apple.com using your web browser and log in to your Apple ID.

  2. To the right of the Account section, click or tap the Edit button.

    Main Apple ID account page with the Edit button in the Account section highlighted
  3. Scroll down to the Reachable At section of the account settings and choose the Add More option.

    Account edit screen on the Apple ID website with the Add More option highlighted
  4. Type in the email address you want to use and click Continue.

    Adding an email to an Apple ID. The Continue button is highlighted
  5. 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 similarly 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'll 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.

FaceTime settings on an iPhone with the checkmark next to a saved phone number highlighted

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.

How to turn on calls from other devices on an iPhone

Should You Set Up Family Sharing Instead?

Family Sharing works by setting up a primary Apple ID and then connecting sub-accounts to it. You can designate an adult or child accounts, but the primary one must be an adult. Most (but not all) apps can be purchased once and downloaded to any of the others in the Family Sharing group.

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.

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 as a separate account. You will need to disable iMessage and FaceTime from going to every device.