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. These effects include expressions, animations, filters, and handwritten notes. On some iPhones, you can also add iMessage effects to photos and videos.

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

Add Expressions to iPhone Texts

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

Reaction options in Messages for iOS

How to Add Camera Effects to iPhone Text Messages

If you have a device with iOS 12 or above, you can 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 lower-left corner of the screen.

  3. A toolbar containing multiple options displays under the photo/video capture window:

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

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

    Camera effects in Messages
  4. Select the effect you want to use and tap Done.

  5. Tap the X in the upper-right corner of the screen. The effect is 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 add handwritten notes using iMessage:

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

  2. Handwritten messages, including hello, thank you, and congratulations display on the bottom of the screen. Tap an option to add it to your iMessage conversation, then tap Done.

    The handwritten text option in Messages
  3. To send a custom handwritten message, use your finger or a stylus to write in the blank space provided. When satisfied with your message, tap Done. If you need additional room, 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 the new message.

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

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

    Bubble effects in Messages for iOS

How to Add Full-Screen Effects to iPhone Text Messages

Full-screen effects add greater emphasis to your texts:

  1. Type your message or insert a photo, then tap and hold the Up Arrow next to the 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 displays. Swipe left to preview other full-screen effects, including Spotlight, Balloons, Confetti, Love, Lasers, Fireworks, Shooting Star, and Celebration.

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

    Choosing screen effects on an iPhone