How to Set Up iMessage on the iPad

Text your friends on your Apple tablet

Image Of Hand Using Digital Tablet At Desk

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Apple's Messages app, which replaced iMessage in iOS 8, can extend your text messaging from your iPhone to your iPad. It can also work as a standalone text messaging app for those who don't own an iPhone.

IMessages are a free feature that route text messages through Apple's servers and does away with the 144 character limit of SMS messages. And a nice feature of Messages is that you can configure it to use your email address, your phone number, or both.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 8.1 and later.

How to Set Up iMessage

To set up iMessage on iPad, you'll need to make a few changes in the Settings app. Here's how to do it.

  1. First, go to the iPad's Settings by tapping the icon that looks like gears turning.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Scroll down the left-side menu until you locate Messages.

    The Settings app on an iPad with the Messages heading highlighted
  3. iMessage should be on (green) by default, but if the on/off slider next to it is set to off, tap the slider to turn iMessage back on.

    You may need to log in with your Apple ID at this point.

    The Messages section of iPad settings with the iMessage toggle highlighted
  4. Next, you will want to configure how you can be reached on iMessage. Tap the heading that reads Send & Receive just below the "Send Read Receipts" setting.

    Messages settings on an iPad with the
  5. The next screen will let you set up the addresses people can contact you at using iMessage. If you have an iPhone attached to your Apple ID, you should see the phone number listed here.

    If you have several iPhones that log into the same address, you may see several phone numbers. You will also see any email addresses you have attached to your account.

  6. If you see several phone numbers listed but you are the only user of the iPad, it may be better to uncheck any phone number that is not yours to prevent you from receiving text messages for other members of your family.

    Friends and family can also send text messages to the email address you check in on this screen.

    Tap a phone number or email address to activate it.

    You must have at least one destination checked on this screen if you have iMessage turned on. So if you want to uncheck your phone number but it is grayed out, you will need to check your email address or another phone number first.

    The Send & Receive screen on an iPad
  7. Now that this is set up, you can use the Messages app to keep in contact with your friends and family without needing an iPhone.

How to Send More Than Just Text in an iMessage

In the Messages app, tap the heart with two fingers to draw a message to a friend. Tap the button with an A on it to send animated GIFs, music, or other stickers you have purchased through the App Store.

The Photos icon lets you attach pictures and movies from your Camera Roll. You can also send money through iMessage with the Apple Pay button.

The images section contains the animated GIFs that come with the iPad. There's enough variety there that you should be able to express almost any emotion.

If you hold down the response bubble from a friend, you will see even more options to customize your text by adding a thumbs up or a heart to their response.

Messages app on an iPad with the app bar highlighted