iPhone Can't Send Text Messages? Here's How to Fix It

Fixing an iPhone that can't send text messages
image credit: Apple Inc.

Many of us feel cut off from friends and family when we can't send text messages. And what are you supposed to do when your iPhone won't send text messages? Make a phone call?! Ew. Now, there are many reasons that your iPhone might not be sending texts properly. Luckily, most of the solutions are pretty simple.

If your iPhone can't send text messages, follow these steps to fix it.

Make Sure You're Connected to a Network

You can't send text messages if your iPhone isn't connected to either a cellular phone network or a Wi-Fi network.

If your texts aren't going through, this is a key place to start.

Look in the top left corner of your iPhone's screen. The five dots there indicate how strong a cellular single you're getting. The Wi-Fi indicator has bars that show the same thing for Wi-Fi networks. If you see a low number of dots or bars, or don't see the name of a phone company, you might not be connected to a network. A good way to try to reset your connection is to go into and then out of Airplane Mode:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center
  2. Tap the Airplane Mode icon (the first on the left) so that it's highlighted. You'll see an airplane icon replace the signal strength indicator in the top left corner
  3. Wait a few seconds, then tap the Airplane Mode icon again to turn it off
  4. Close Control Center.

At this point, your iPhone should reconnect to the available network, hopefully with a stronger connection and your messages will go through.

Check The Recipient's Phone Number/Email

This sounds really basic, but if the text you're sending won't go through, make sure you're sending it to the right place. Check the recipient's phone number or, if you're sending via iMessage, email address.

Restart Your Phone

Another very basic step. Restarting your iPhone can solve a large number of problems.

It may not fix things in this case, but it's a quick, simple step and is worth trying before getting into more complex options. Before you restart, however, make sure you properly restart your iPhone so you don't inadvertently add additional problems.

Make Sure Your Message Type Is Supported

Not every phone company supports every kind of text message. There's pretty broad support for SMS, short message service. This is the standard kind of text message. Not every company supports MMS, multimedia message service, which is used to send photos, videos, and songs. 

If you're having trouble sending texts and nothing on the list so far has worked, it's a good idea to call your phone company and confirm that they support the kind of text you're trying to send.

Turn on MMS or Group Messaging

If the text message that won't send has a photo or video in it, or you're trying to text a group of people, you need to confirm that the settings to support these features are enabled. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app
  2. Tap Messages
  3. In the SMS/MMS section, make sure that the sliders next to MMS Messaging and Group Messaging are both set to on/green.
  4. With that done, try sending your message again.

    Check Phone's Date and Time Settings

    Believe it or not, your iPhone not having the correct date and time settings can affect a lot of features. If your phone has that information wrong, it could be the culprit in this case. To fix your date and time settings:

    1. Tap the Settings app
    2. Tap General
    3. Tap Date & Time
    4. Move the Set Automatically slider to on/green. If it is already on, move it to off and then turn it back on.

    Reactivate iMessage

    If the texts you're trying to send are using iMessage, rather than being sent as standard text messages, you have to make sure iMessage is turned on. In most cases it is, but if it was accidentally turned off, that could be the source of the problem. To turn it on:

    1. Tap the Settings app
    2. Tap Messages
    3. Move the iMessage slider to on/green
    4. Try sending your text again.

    Update Your Carrier Settings

    In order to work with your phone company, your iPhone has a hidden carrier settings file. This helps your phone and the company's network know how to communicate to place calls, transmit data, and send texts. Phone companies periodically issue updates to their settings. Making sure you have the latest version can solve these problems by updating your carrier settings.

    Update Your Operating System

    The latest version of the iOS—the operating system that powers the iPhone—always contains the most up to date feature enhancements and bug fixes. Because of that, it's always a good idea to update when you're running into problems. The update may contain a fix for this issue, but it's a big deal to upgrade the operating system. To learn how to upgrade your phone to the latest version of the iOS, read:

    What To Do Now

    If you've tried all of these steps and your iPhone still can't send text messages, it's time to talk to the experts. Set up an appointment for tech support at your local Apple Store by reading these articles:

    • Up Next