How to Send iMessages With iPhone Text Effects

Add fireworks and other iMessage effects to spice up your chats

The iMessage app for iOS lets you add effects to iPhone texts including expressions, animations, filters, and even handwritten notes. On some iPhones, you can also add iMessage effects to photos and videos.

Text effects are only available when you're using iMessage as opposed to basic SMS. The effects only work in iOS 10 and above (and some require iOS 12 as noted).

Adding Expressions to iPhone Texts

Open an existing conversation and double-tap a message, image, or video. A pop-up toolbar will appear displaying multiple options to express approval, disapproval, love, laughter, excitement, or confusion. If you select one, it will instantly be appended to that message for all recipients in the conversation to see.

iMessage Tapback options

How to Add Camera Effects to iPhone Text Messages

If you have a device running iOS 12 or above, you can also add camera effects to text messages:

  1. Open a message and tap the Camera icon next to the iMessage text entry field.

  2. Tap the Star in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

  3. A toolbar containing multiple options will be displayed under the photo/video capture window:

    • The Animoji icon, represented by a smiling monkey, lets you choose from a number of animated personas that take your place from the neck up. As you move or speak, so does your animoji. Animojis can all be sent as part of a still photo or video via iMessage.
    • The Filters icon, represented by three colored circles, lets you apply one of over a dozen effects to your image before sending.
    • The Text (Aa) option allows you to add letters, numbers, and special characters to your photos prior to sending them to someone in iMessage.
    • The Shapes icon, represented by a red squiggly line, provides the ability to include animated arrows, checkmarks, fireworks, and other items to your photos and videos.
    iMessage Animoji selection

    Animojis and Memojis are only available on iPhone X and later models.

  4. Select the effect(s) you want to use and tap Done.

  5. Tap the X in the top-right corner of the screen. You'll see the effect ready for you to capture in a photo or video.

  6. Choose a video or photo from your iPhone photo albums, or take a new one using the iPhone camera interface.

How to Add Handwritten Notes to iPhone Messages

You can even add handwritten notes using iMessage:

  1. Open a message and turn your iPhone sideways so that it's in landscape mode.

  2. A set of handwritten messages including hello, thank you, and congratulations will be displayed on the bottom of your screen. Tap one of the options to add it to your iMessage conversation, then tap Done.

    iMessage handwritten message
  3. To send your own custom handwritten message, use your finger or a stylus to write whatever you wish in the blank space provided. Once satisfied with your message, tap Done. If you need additional room, just tap the > symbol on the right side of the message.

How to Add Bubble Effects to Your Text Messages

Use bubble effects to add emphasis to your iPhone messages:

  1. Type your message or insert a photo, then tap and hold the Up Arrow next to your new message.

  2. A series of bubble effects will be displayed including Slam, Loud, Gentle and Invisible Ink. Tap the gray dot next to the effect you want to see a preview of how your new message will look.

  3. Tap the Up Arrow to apply the bubble effect and send your message.

    iMessage bubble effects

How to Add Full-Screen Effects to iPhone Text Messages

Full-screen effects add even greater emphasis to your texts:

  1. Type your message or insert a photo, then tap and hold the Up Arrow next to your new message.

  2. Tap the Screen tab on the top of the screen.

  3. A preview of your new message with the Echo full-screen effect applied will now be displayed. Swipe left to preview other full-screen effects, including Spotlight, Balloons, Confetti, Love, Lasers, Fireworks, Shooting Star, and Celebration.

    iMessage balloon full-screen effect
  4. Tap the Up Arrow to send the message with the full-screen effect applied. To cancel, tap the X directly below the arrow.