We all use text messaging to stay in touch with friends and family, and also to interact with many businesses. If you have more than one Apple device, it’s a great convenience to be able to send and receive messages on all of them, but keeping your message list synchronized across your devices can be a challenge. There are a few settings that will ensure that everything stays in sync automatically.
When I refer to staying in sync for messages, I mean that not only will your messages be received on all your devices, but that also when you delete a message or entire conversation, those actions will occur on all your other devices as well. This way, all your devices have the same set of messages. No more wondering what happened to a message or having to delete them on several devices.
In order to get messages to stay in sync across your Apple devices, you’ll need to make sure the settings are correct on all of them. I’ll cover each device separately below. You need to set up your iPhone first, so follow along in order.
Two Factor Authentication
In order to use the settings I cover below, you’ll need to have Two Factor Authentication enabled on your Apple account. To check if this is already set up or to learn how to turn it on, read my article here.
Go to Settings and tap Messages. If iMessage at the top of the page is not turned on, then tap the switch to turn it on. Once you turn it on you may need to wait a few moments while it activates.
Next, tap on Send & Receive. In the section called You Can Receive iMessages To And Reply From make sure that both your phone number and Apple ID have check marks next to them. If they don’t, then tap on them to set the check mark.
If, instead, you see Use your Apple ID for iMessage, tap that and sign in with the same Apple ID you use on your other Apple devices.
Note: if you see several Apple IDs listed as in the example above (@mac.com, @me.com, @icloud.com), these all refer to the same Apple ID and are remnants of Apple’s cloud service changes over the years. They should all have a checkmark.
Once that’s done go back to the main Settings list by tapping Messages at the top of the screen, and then tapping Settings:
Scroll to the top of the list and tap your name, then tap iCloud and ensure that Messages is turned on. If not, then tap the switch to turn it on.
If you have an iPad, I’ll cover that next. If not, and you have a Mac, tap here to jump to that section.
The steps for an iPad are pretty similar to the iPhone. Go to Settings, then tap Messages. Make sure the iMessage switch is turned on. If not, tap it and then enter the Apple ID you use on your other Apple devices.
Next, tap Send & Receive and in the section called You Can Receive iMessages To And Reply From make sure that both your phone number and Apple ID have check marks next to them. If they don’t, then tap on them to set the check mark.
Once that’s done scroll the main Settings list on the left to the top and and tap your name, then tap iCloud on the right:
Next, ensure that Messages is turned on. If not, then tap the switch to turn it on.
Your iPad is now set up. If you have a Mac, you’ll set that up next. If not, tap here to jump to the final part of the set up.
On your Mac, launch the Messages app. If you’re asked to sign in, then do so with the Apple ID you use on your other Apple devices.
In the menu bar in the upper left of the Mac’s screen click Messages and then Preferences…. Then, in the window that appears, click iMessage at the top:
Next, in the You can be reached for messages at: section, make sure both your phone number and Apple ID are checked. If not, click to enable them.
Finally, make sure Enable Messages in iCloud is checked. If not, click it to turn it on.
Back to iPhone
OK, you’re almost finished! Go back to your iPhone, and go to Settings, then tap Messages:
Now tap on Text Message Forwarding and make sure that your other devices are turned on:
With these settings all of your devices will show the same messages and attachments. Once set up, it may take some time for everything to sync up the first time, but you can send and receive messages while that’s happening. Also your messages and attachments will be stored in iCloud which will save space on your device.
I hope this article helps bring some sanity to your message list on all your devices. I know it has for me!
Apple’s support page for using Messages
Apple’s support page for Messages in iCloud
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Cover photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash
Thanks, Rob. I thought I had this sorted on my devices, but a couple of buttons needed tapping on. Now I know why messages were not in sync on all my devices.
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I’m so glad you found it helpful.
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