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

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

Text messages on iPhone not going through
Marco_Piunti/iStock

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.

There are many reasons that your iPhone might not be sending texts properly. Luckily, most of the ways to get your iPhone texting again are pretty simple. If your iPhone can't send text messages, try these tips, in this order, to fix it.

The iPhone can send 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.

Make Sure You're Connected 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 bars or dots 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.

If that's the case, try resetting your network connection by going into and then out of Airplane Mode by following these steps:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or top right, on iPhone X, XS, and XR) to reveal Control Center.

  2. Tap the Airplane Mode icon so that it's highlighted. An airplane icon will replace the signal strength indicator in the screen's top corner.

  3. Wait a few seconds, then tap the Airplane Mode icon again to turn it off.

    Three iOS screens showing Airplane mode off, on, then off again
  4. Close Control Center.

Your iPhone should reconnect to an available network, hopefully with a stronger connection, and your texts will go through.

Check The Recipient's Phone Number/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 via iMessage, email address.

Quit and Restart Messages App

Sometimes apps just need to be quit and restarted to solve problems like this. Learn how to quit iPhone apps in How to Quit Apps on the iPhone. Use the instructions there to quit the Messages app. Then open it again and try sending your message.

Restart Your Phone

Restarting your iPhone can solve a large number of problems. It may not fix things in this case, but it's a quick, simple step that's worth trying before getting into more complex options. Learn how to properly restart your iPhone and then try it.

Check iMessage System Status

apple's services system status screen

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 and to see if there's a problem with iMessage. If there is, you'll have to wait for Apple to resolve it.

Make Sure Your Message Type Is Supported

Not every phone company supports every kind of text message. There's pretty broad support for SMS (short message service). This is the standard kind of text message. Not every company supports MMS (multimedia message 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.

Turn on Group Messaging (MMS)

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, you need to confirm that the settings to support these features are enabled. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app.

  2. Tap Messages.

  3. In the SMS/MMS section, make sure that the sliders next to MMS Messaging and Group Messaging are both set to on/green.

    Three iOS screens showing Settings, Messages and MMS Messaging and Group Messaging toggles
  4. With that done, try sending your message again.

Check Phone's Date and Time Settings

Believe it or not, your iPhone needs to have the correct date and time settings for many things to work. If your phone has that information wrong, it could be the culprit in this case. To fix your date and time settings:

  1. Tap the Settings app.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap Date & Time.

    Three iOS screens showing General, Date & Time, and Set Automatically buttons
  4. Move the Set Automatically slider to on/green. If it is already on, move it to off and then turn it back on.

Reactivate iMessage

If you're using iMessage to send your text, you have to make sure 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:

  1. Tap the Settings app.

  2. Tap Messages.

  3. Move the iMessage slider to on/green.

    Two iOS Screens showing Messages button in Settings app and iMessage toggle
  4. Try sending your text again.

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 this way:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap Reset.

  4. Tap Reset Network Settings, then enter your passcode.

    Three iOS screens showing Reset in General Settings section, Reset Network Settings, and a red confirmation button
  5. In the pop-up menu, tap Reset Network Settings.

Update Your 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.

Update Your Operating System

The latest version of the iOS — the operating system that powers the iPhone—always contains the most up to date feature enhancements and bug fixes. Because of that, it's always a good idea to update when you're running into problems. To learn how to upgrade your phone to the latest version of the iOS, read:

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 appointment for tech support at your local Apple Store by reading these articles:

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.