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iMessage Not Working on Mac? 14 Best Ways to Fix It

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Last updated: September 18, 2023

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Ah, the trusty iMessage on Mac! Until… it stops playing nice. Suddenly, messages aren’t sending, or worse, vanishing into digital oblivion. Sound familiar? Take a deep breath because I have the digital first-aid kit for iMessage not working on Mac.

From cryptic error codes to complete communication blackouts, I’ve got the antidote to your iMessage ailments. Stick till the end of this guide and you’ll go from “Why me?” to “Aha, fixed it!” in no time. Let’s dive right in.

Before We Begin

Not always, but sometimes, malware is the reason behind your Mac apps acting weird, including iMessage. To rule out the possibility of virus causing iMessage not working on Mac, you should scan your Mac for malware using MacKeeper’s Antivirus.

Why Is iMessage Not Working on Mac?

If iMessage is not working on your Mac, there could be a variety of reasons causing the issue. Here are some common culprits:

  1. 🌐 Network Issues: Sometimes, your Wi-Fi or internet connection could be unstable, affecting the functioning of iMessage.
  2. 🍏 Apple Server Downtime: If Apple’s servers are down, iMessage will be unavailable.
  3. ⚙️ Incorrect Settings: If the settings on your Mac aren’t configured correctly, particularly date, time, and iMessage settings, you might experience problems.
  4. 🔄 Software Updates: An outdated macOS could have compatibility issues with iMessage, so make sure your system is up-to-date.
  5. 🆔 Account Issues: Sometimes signing out and signing back into your Apple ID can resolve any account-related hiccups affecting iMessage.
  6. 🔒 Firewall or Security Software: Overzealous firewall settings or third-party security software might block the iMessage service.
  7. 🛡️ Malware: In rare cases, malware can interfere with iMessage.
  8. 🗂️ Corrupted Files: Sometimes system or application files might be corrupted, causing issues with iMessage.
  9. 👤 User Error: Ensure that you’re sending the message to the correct contact and using the correct format.
  10. 🚫 Interference from Other Apps: Third-party apps or services running in the background could interfere with iMessage.

Identifying the root cause of the problem is the first step toward resolving it effectively. Once you’ve done that, you can proceed with appropriate troubleshooting steps.

How to Fix iMessage Not Working on Mac

Alright, now that you’ve diagnosed some of the most common villains that could be messing with your iMessage on Mac, it’s time to don your virtual superhero capes and swoop in to fix the issue. Let’s dive in and fix iMessage not working on Mac.

1. Send Texts to Multiple People to Test iMessage

Before you dive deep into troubleshooting, let’s start with a basic but effective test: send messages to multiple contacts. Why? Well, if iMessage is working with some contacts but not others, it could be an issue specific to certain conversations or recipients rather than a system-wide glitch.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac from the Dock.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. Choose multiple contacts from your list. Aim for a mix of iPhone and non-iPhone users if possible.
  2. Compose a simple text and send it.
  3. Notice if your message goes through to everyone or if some messages fail.

If the message is sent successfully to everyone, this could suggest the issue is specific to a single contact or conversation. But if the message fails to send to multiple people, this indicates a more general iMessage or system issue and further troubleshooting is needed.

2. Try Different Send and Receive Options

One common reason for iMessage not working on Mac is due to your Send & Receive settings. Your Apple ID and phone number are the keys to your iMessage universe, and if they’re not correctly set, you may run into problems.

Follow these steps to try different send and receive options:

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac
  2. Click Messages in the menu bar and select Settings.
click messages in the menu bar and select settings
  1. Click iMessage in the new window.
click imessage in messages settings
  1. On this screen, you’ll find all the phone numbers and email addresses associated with your Apple ID. Experiment by selecting different options to see if iMessage becomes functional.
all accounts associated with your mac
  1. A good starting point could be to deactivate all options except for your mobile number and then test iMessage to see if it’s working.

3. Sign In and Out of iMessage

Sometimes the age-old advice of “turning it off and on again” holds its weight in gold, and that’s especially true for iMessage on Mac. Signing out and signing back into your iMessage account can refresh the service and often resolve any pesky issues you’re facing.

Here’s how to sign out and sign in to iMessage on Mac:

  1. Launch the Messages application on your Mac.
  2. Click Messages in the menu bar and select Settings.
click messages in the menu bar and select settings
  1. Go to the iMessage tab and click the Sign Out button in front of your Apple ID.
select imessage and click sign out
  1. Click Sign Out on the pop-up again to confirm your decision.
click sign out on the pop up window

This will sign you out of your iMessage account, and your Mac will no longer send or receive iMessages.

  1. Wait for a few seconds, then go back to Messages, navigate to Settings, and under the iMessage tab, input your Apple ID credentials to sign back in.

4. Enable iMessage If It’s Not

Believe it or not, there are instances where iMessage might be disabled without your knowledge, causing obvious disruptions in service. Whether it happened inadvertently through a misclick or as a result of software updates, ensuring iMessage is enabled is a crucial troubleshooting step.

Here’s how to enable iMessage on Mac:

  1. Launch the Messages application on your Mac.
  2. In the menu bar, click Messages and choose Settings from the dropdown menu.
click messages in the menu bar and select settings
  1. Once the Settings window is open, locate and click the iMessage tab.
click imessage in messages settings
  1. Check the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud.
check enable messages in icloud
  1. If it’s already checked, consider unchecking and rechecking it to refresh the settings.
  2. Close the iMessage application and relaunch it to see if enabling the account resolved the issue.

5. Reset iMessage

If all else fails, resetting iMessage to its default settings can often serve as a silver bullet for stubborn issues. This essentially wipes the slate clean, removing any configurations or settings causing problems.

Be warned, however: this may also remove your iMessage conversations, so proceed with caution and back up any important chats before starting.

Here’s how to reset iMessage on Mac:

  1. If you have important conversations, make sure you back them up using Time Machine or another backup method.
  2. Launch the Messages application on your Mac.
  3. Click Messages in the menu bar and select Settings.
click messages in the menu bar and select settings
  1. Navigate to the iMessage section and uncheck the option for Enable Messages in iCloud under your Apple ID.
uncheck enable messages in icloud
  1. After that, reboot your Mac by selecting Restart from the Apple menu in the upper-left corner.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Once your Mac is back up, re-enable this feature.
check enable messages in icloud

6. Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, the oldest trick in the book is also the most effective. Restarting your Mac can resolve many issues by refreshing the system and closing any processes interfering with Messages. If you haven’t tried this yet, now’s a good time to restart your Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Before you restart, make sure to save any open files and close all applications to prevent data loss.
  2. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. A dialog box will appear, asking you to confirm the action. Click Restart to proceed.
click restart to confirm your decision
  1. Allow your Mac to complete the reboot process. This may take a couple of minutes.
  2. Once your Mac is back up, launch Messages to check if the issue has been resolved.

7. Make Sure Your Internet Connection Is Working

The Messages app relies heavily on a stable internet connection. If you’re experiencing issues, it might be because you have an unstable or slow internet connection on your Mac. Before you pull your hair out over Messages, take a few moments to verify that your internet connection is up to par. Here’s how:

  1. Open your web browser and try visiting several websites or use another online service to confirm your internet is working.
  2. Look at the Wi-Fi symbol on your Mac’s menu bar. If it’s not there or has an exclamation mark, there’s likely a connection issue.
click the wi fi icon in the menu bar
  1. Go to System Settings > Network and run diagnostics to find any issues with your internet connection.
click network from side bar
  1. If your network seems unstable, disconnect from the Wi-Fi and reconnect to see if it improves the connection quality.
  2. Sometimes, the issue may be with the router itself. A quick restart can often solve connection issues.
  3. If none of the above steps work, it might be worth checking if there’s a larger outage affecting your area.

8. Check Apple’s Servers

Sometimes the issue isn’t with your device at all; it’s on Apple’s end. If Apple’s servers are experiencing downtime or undergoing maintenance, this could affect several services, including iMessage.

Here’s how to check Apple’s servers:

  1. Open your web browser and go to Apple’s System Status page. This is where Apple provides real-time updates on the status of various services.
  2. On the System Status page, look for the iMessage service. It should be listed among other Apple services like iCloud, App Store, and more.
imessage status on apple status page
  1. If all is well, you’ll see a green dot next to iMessage. An orange or red dot indicates there are issues or outages.
  2. If there is an issue, you can usually click the service for more details or a timeline on when the problem is expected to be resolved.

9. Check Your Mac’s Time and Date

An often-overlooked factor that can affect the functionality of iMessage is the time and date settings on your Mac. If these settings are incorrect, they can cause synchronization issues, leading to failures in sending or receiving messages. You can easily fix that by changing the date and time on your Mac.

Here’s how to make sure your Mac’s time and date settings are accurate:

  1. Navigate to the Apple Menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click General and select Date & Time.
click General and select Date Time
  1. Look at the date, time, and time zone to see if they are correct. If they’re not, you can manually set them or opt for automatic settings based on your location.
  2. For best results, toggle on the Set date and time automatically option and select the appropriate time zone.
toggle on set time and date automatically

10. Sign In to the Same Apple ID

Using mismatched Apple IDs on your devices can result in a confusing and inconsistent iMessage experience. For seamless synchronization and to ensure that iMessage works as expected across all your devices, make sure you’re signed in with the same Apple ID.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Go to System Settings > Apple ID and confirm the account you’re signed into on your Mac.
click the apple logo system settings apple id
  1. Open Messages, go to Settings, and check under the iMessage tab to see which Apple ID is being used there.
all accounts associated with your mac
  1. Make sure the Apple ID on both screens matches. If they don’t, you’ll need to sign out and sign back in with the correct ID.
  2. If you use iMessage on other Apple devices like an iPhone or iPad, confirm the same Apple ID is being used on those devices as well.
  3. If a mismatch is found, sign out of the incorrect Apple ID and sign back in using the correct one.

11. Delete Messages Cache

Over time, iMessage accumulates cache files that can sometimes become corrupt and interfere with the app’s functionality. Clearing these files can serve as a spring cleaning of sorts, potentially resolving any issues you’re experiencing with iMessage.

Here’s how to delete Messages cache on Mac:

  1. Before you delete any files, make sure to back up important chats you don’t want to lose.
  2. Make sure iMessage is closed. You can quit the app from the Dock or by using the Command ⌘ + Q shortcut.
macbook pro control command q keys
  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
click finder in your dock
  1. Hold down the Option ⌥ key and click the Go menu at the top. Then select Library from the dropdown menu.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. In the Library folder, locate and enter the Messages folder.
double click messages folder in library
  1. Here, you’ll find a folder named Cache or something similar. Move this folder to the Bin.
  2. After deleting the cache, empty the Trash on your Mac and restart it for the changes to take effect.
  3. Open iMessage to see if the issue has been resolved.

12. Reset the Network Settings

Network issues can often be the underlying cause of iMessage problems. Resetting your Mac’s network settings to their default configuration can sometimes resolve these issues by eliminating any problematic custom settings.

Here’s how to reset the network settings on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu at the top left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Network in the System settings window.
click network in the system settings window
  1. Select the type of network connection you want to reset (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, etc.) from the list on the right-hand side of the screen.
select the type of network connection you want to reset Ethernet Wi Fi etc from the list on the right hand side of the screen
  1. Click the Details button next to your Wi-Fi network.
click the details button on the right of the selected network
  1. Select the TCP/IP tab.
select the tcp ip tab
  1. Tap the Renew DHCP Lease button.
click the renew dhcp lease button
  1. Confirm by clicking the Apply button.
confirm by clicking the apply button
  1. Click the OK button to save your changes.
click the ok button to save your changes

Your Mac will now reset the network settings for the selected network connection.

13. Update Your macOS

Running an outdated macOS can cause a slew of issues, including problems with iMessage. Apple regularly releases updates to improve performance and fix bugs, so ensuring you’re on the latest version can be an easy fix to your iMessage woes.

Here are the steps to update your macOS on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update to open the updates menu.
click general and select software update
  1. Your Mac will check for updates automatically. If your Mac is up-to-date, it will show your current macOS version.
  2. If an update is available, click the Update Now button to download and install it.
click the update now button
  1. Wait for the update to finish downloading and installing.

14. Scan Your Mac for Malware

Although Macs are generally considered more secure than other operating systems, they’re not completely immune to malware. Unwanted software can interfere with system processes and applications, including iMessage. Performing a malware scan can help identify and remove these malicious elements.

Here’s how to run a virus scan on Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and navigate to the Antivirus tab in the left sidebar.
click antivirus under the security section
  1. Initiate an instant virus scan by clicking the Start Scan button.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus
  1. If any viruses are detected during the scan, click the Fix Items button to resolve the issues.
  2. If your system is threat-free, you’ll see a No threats found message. You can tap the Restart button to run the scan again.
no threats found in mackeeper antivirus
  1. Enable real-time antivirus protection to safeguard your Mac from future threats by clicking the Enable button.
click enable to allow real time protection

Once you have configured your security settings, MacKeeper will continue to operate in the background, diligently scanning for threats and actively blocking any malicious activity.

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides scanning your Mac for viruses, MacKeeper can do many other Mac maintenance tasks. You can use it to connect to the internet privately via VPN, remove cache files, and delete login items. Learn more about its features in my detailed Mackeeper review.

Start Sending iMessages Without a Hitch

From basic steps like restarting your Mac to more advanced solutions like scanning for malware, there are numerous ways to tackle the problem and get iMessage back on track. And now, you’re well-equipped with these, so here are a few more tips to enhance your productivity:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I know if the issue is with iMessage and not my Mac?

    To determine if the issue is specifically with iMessage and not your Mac, check if other internet-based services and apps are working correctly. If everything else functions as expected but iMessage doesn’t, it’s likely that the problem is isolated to iMessage or its settings.

  2. Do I need an internet connection for iMessage to work?

    Yes, iMessage requires an active internet connection to function. Unlike traditional SMS texts, iMessage uses the internet to send and receive messages. Make sure you’re connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network or have a stable cellular data connection for the best experience with iMessage.

  3. Will my messages disappear if I disable and re-enable iMessage?

    No, your existing messages should remain intact when you disable and re-enable iMessage. However, during the period iMessage is disabled, you won’t receive messages sent to you via this service. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to back up important conversations before making any changes to iMessage settings.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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