iPhone Text Messages Not Sending? Here's How to Fix It

Can't send a message from your iPhone? Try these tips

When your iPhone can't send text messages, you feel cut off from friends and family. And what are you supposed to do? Make a phone call?! Yuck.

If your iPhone can't send text messages, try these tips, in this order, to fix it.

The iPhone sends texts using Apple's iMessage network or using standard SMS texts to non-Apple devices. The tips in this article apply to both kinds of texting, and the procedures apply to all currently supported versions of iOS.

Person yelling at their iPhone
Lifewire / Colleen Tighe

How to Fix iPhone Text Messages Not Sending

  1. Connect to a network. Your iPhone can't send text messages if it's not connected to either a cellular phone network or a Wi-Fi network. If your texts aren't going through, this is where to start.

    Look at the top left corner of your iPhone's screen (top right on iPhone X, XS, and XR). The icon there show the strength of the cellular connection you have. The Wi-Fi indicator shows the same thing for Wi-Fi networks. A low number of dots or bars, or no phone company name, means you might not be connected to a network.

  2. Turn off Airplane Mode. Try disabling Airplane Mode, or turning it on then off to force it to find a connection. Your iPhone should reconnect to an available network and your texts will go through. If they don't, try going outside or into an area where you know there's adequate cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.

  3. Check the recipient's phone number and email. If your texts still can't send, try another very basic thing: make sure you're sending it to the right place. Check the recipient's phone number or, if you're sending through iMessage, email address.

  4. Quit and restart the Messages app. Sometimes apps just need to be quit and restarted to solve problems, often related to memory management. Force-quit the messaging app then try again.

  5. Restart your phone. Restarting your iPhone solves many problems. It may not fix things in this case, but it's a quick, simple step that's worth trying before diving into more complex options.

  6. Check iMessage system status. Maybe your iPhone not sending texts has nothing to do with your iPhone. It could be Apple's servers. Check out the company's System Status page to see if there's a problem with iMessage. If there is, you'll have to wait for Apple to resolve it.

  7. Check that your message type is supported. Not every phone company supports every kind of text message. There's broad support for SMS, the standard text-messaging protocol more formally known as Short Message Service, but not every company supports Multimedia Messaging Service, which is used to send photos, videos, and songs.

    If you're having trouble sending texts and nothing on the list so far has worked, it's a good idea to check with your phone company and confirm that they support the kind of text you're trying to send.

  8. Turn on Group Messaging. If the text message that won't send has a photo or video in it, or you're trying to text a group of people, confirm that the settings to support these features are enabled. Tap Settings > Messages, then, in the SMS/MMS section, make sure MMS Messaging and Group Messaging are both set to on/green. Try sending your message again.

  9. Check phone's date and time settings. Your iPhone must register the correct date and time settings for many network-based services to work. If your phone has that information wrong, it could be the culprit in this case. Tap Settings > General > Date & Time, then move the Set Automatically slider to on/green. If it is already on, move it to off and then turn it back on. Auto-synced time information is sent by your carrier's network.

  10. Reactivate iMessage. If you're using iMessage to send your text, verify that iMessage is turned on. It usually is, but if it was accidentally turned off, that could be the source of the problem. To turn it on, tap Settings > Messages, toggle the iMessage slider to on/green, then try texting again.

  11. Reset network settings. Your iPhone's Network Settings are a group of preferences that control how it gets online. Errors in those settings could interfere with sending texts. Try solving these problems by resetting your Network Settings.

  12. Update Carrier Settings. Your iPhone has a hidden carrier settings file that helps your phone and the company's network know how to communicate to place calls, transmit data, and send texts. Phone companies periodically update their settings. Making sure you have the latest version can solve some problems by updating your carrier settings.

  13. Update iOS. The latest version of iOS always contains the most up to date feature enhancements and bug fixes. It's always a good idea to update iOS when you're running into problems.

Didn't Work? What to Do Next

If you've tried all of these steps and your iPhone still can't send text messages, it's time to talk to the experts. Set up an Apple Store appointment for tech support.

If you used to have an iPhone but switched to Android and are having problems with your texts, Apple's got a solution for you. Learn all about it in Fix the iMessage Android Bug With This Simple Free Tool.