Mastering iMessage On Your iPhone: Manage Multiple Devices [iOS Tips]



Let’s be honest, the fact that you can conduct iMessage conversations across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac is pretty freakin’ cool.

Let’s also be clear, sometimes this very same feature is a pain in the butt. Getting iMessages on all three of my Apple devices in the same room can be a bit daunting, especially when I’m trying to concentrate on, say, writing an iOS Tip for the next day.

What’s a busy, popular, connected person to do? Manage those devices and their iMessage settings a bit better, that’s what. Here’s how.

On each device you want to use iMessage on, tap into the Settings app, then tap on Messages. Scroll down to Send & Receive, and tap through to that screen. You’ll see your Apple ID at the top, and then a section titled, “You can be reached by iMessage at:” with one or more phone numbers or email addresses there.

Let’s say you want to get iMessages on all devices you own. This is easy. Make sure that every iOS and OS X device you use has all of the phone numbers and addresses you’ve entered into iMessage checked off in these preferences. That way, each device will get every iMessage sent to your iPhone, your iPad, or your Mac.

To get trickier, you could only enable *one* phone number or email address per device. For example, I could only allow iMessages to my phone number to show up on my iPhone, by unchecking all the email addresses in the iMessage Settings page there. Then I could only check one of my associated email addresses on my iPad, and then a second one on my Mac. That way, I’d still be using iMessage, logged with my Apple ID, but messages would only go to and from the specific device I was currently using.

The great thing? You can mix and match these strategies. If you don’t want to get iMessages on your Mac for a bit, uncheck all the email addresses and phone numbers. Say you don’t want anyone reaching you at your email address via iMessage on your iPhone? Simply uncheck it there, but leave it enabled on your iPad and Mac. The permutations are up to you.

Hopefully this will have given you some ideas on how to manage the information overload that can come from iMessages and multiple Apple devices. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.