How to Get iMessage Apps and Stickers for iPhone

Make messages even more fun with these mini apps

Apple's Messages app makes texting easy and secure. Other texting apps have cropped up that offer all kinds of cool features, like the ability to add stickers and animations to your texts.

In iOS 10 and up, Messages has all those features and then some thanks to iMessage apps. These are apps just like the ones you get from the App Store and install on your iPhone. The only difference? Now there's a special iMessage App Store built into Messages and you install the apps right into the Messages app. 

This article was written using iOS 12, but the instructions in it apply to iOS 10 and iOS 11, too (though the steps might be slightly different).

iMessage Apps Requirements

In order to use iMessage apps, you need:

Texts with iMessage App content in them can be sent to any device that can receive texts.

What Kinds of iMessage Apps Are Available?

Screenshots of iMessage apps for Activity, Apple Music, and Animoji

The types of iMessage apps you can get are almost as varied as the options from the traditional App Store. Some common types of apps you'll find include:

  • Sticker packs to add images, animations, and other visual excitement to your texts.
  • iMessage apps connected to apps you already have installed on your phone, like OpenTable, Evernote, or ESPN. These are cool because they let you access data from those apps in Messages without open the other apps.
  • Games.
  • Tools for shopping, travel, and more. 

There are also some iMessage apps that come pre-installed on your iPhone. These include:

  • Music. This app lets you send Apple Music songs to other people over iMessage.
  • Photos. Grab photos and videos from your library for easy sharing via text with this app.
  • Apple Pay Cash. If you're running iOS 11 or higher, you also have a built-in iMessage app for Apple Pay Cash, a peer-to-peer payment tool that uses Apple Pay
  • Activity. Share animated activity awards and animations.
  • Animoji. Models with Face ID also include the Animoji app.

How to Get iMessage Apps for iPhone

Ready to grab some iMessage apps and start using them to make your texts more fun and more useful? Just follow these steps:

  1. Tap Messages to open the app.

  2. Tap an existing conversation or start a new message.

  3. Tap the App Store. It's the icon that looks like an "A" next to the iMessage or Text Message field at the bottom.

    On some older versions of iOS, you need to tap Visit Store or tap the four-dot icon at the bottom left and then tap Store.

  4. Browse the iMessage App Store for an app you want or search by tapping the magnifying glass icon.

    Screenshots of the iMessage App Store
  5. Tap the app you want to see more information about it.

  6. Tap Get (if the app is free) or the price (if the app is paid).

    Screenshots of installing iMessage apps
  7. Double click the side button.

  8. You may be asked to enter your Apple ID. If you are, do so. Depending on your model and how you've set up your iPhone, you may also be able to authorize the transaction with Face ID or Touch ID.

  9. How quickly your app downloads depends on your Internet connection speed. The app will usually be installed on your iPhone within a few second.

How to Use iMessage Apps for iPhone

Once you've got some iMessage apps installed, it's time to start using them! Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open an existing conversation or start a new one in Messages. 

  2. Messages displays all of your installed apps in a row along the bottom of the screen. Swipe left and right to left to move through your recently used apps. You can also tap the ... (or More) icon at the far right to see all of your iMessage apps.

    Screenshots of using iMessage apps
  3. When you've found the app you want to use, tap it and the contents of the app loads in the space below your iMessage conversation and above the row of apps.

  4. In some apps, you can also search for content (Yelp is a good example of this. Use the iMessage App to search for a restaurant or other info without going out to the full Yelp app and then share it via text).

  5. When you've found the thing you want to send – either from the default options in the app or by searching for it – tap it and it will be added to the area where you write messages. Add text if you want and send it as you normally would.

    Screenshots of adding iMessage app content to texts

How to Manage and Delete iMessage Apps

Installing and using iMessage Apps isn't the only thing you need to know how to do. You also need to know how to manage and delete the apps if you no longer want them. To manage apps, follow these steps:

  1. Open Messages and a conversation.

  2. In the row of apps along the bottom, swipe all the way to the right and tap the ... (or More) icon.

  3. This shows you a list of your Favorite apps (the ones shown first in Messages) and all other apps installed on your phone. Some apps that you already have installed on your phone may also have iMessage Apps as companions. Those iMessage apps are automatically installed on your phone.

  4. From here, you can do a few different things. They all begin by tapping Edit, then follow the steps:

    Screenshots of favoriting and deleting iMessage apps

    To favorite an iMessage app

    • Tap the + icon next to the app you want to make a favorite.

    To rearrange iMessage apps

    • To change the order of apps in messages, drag and drop the apps to your preferred location using the three-line icon next to each app.

    To hide an iMessage app

    • If you want to hide the iMessage app so that it doesn't appear in the row of apps at the bottom of iMessage, and you don't want to delete it, move the slider next to the app to off/white. It won't appear in Messages until you turn it back on.

    To delete iMessage apps

    • Tap Done so that the screen is no longer in Edit mode. Swipe right to left across the app you want to delete to reveal the Delete button. Tap Delete.
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