Messages Not Working on Mac? Here’s How to Fix it

Mac In Room

There are many ways that Messages can break on your Mac. Regardless of the symptoms, the cause is typically the same: a miscommunication between the Messages app and the messaging servers on Apple’s end. With the correct troubleshooting steps, we can straighten this out. In this article, you’ll learn how to fix the Messages app if it’s not working on your Mac.

The Obvious Fixes for Messages Not Working on Mac

Before you try any of these more detailed fixes, make sure you’ve done the basics first. Have you restarted your Mac? Are you sure you have an Internet connection?

You should also check for a system-wide outage on Apple’s System Status page. While the Messages app rarely goes out, confirming that it’s active is important before you start troubleshooting a problem you cannot fix.

If you’ve checked, and the Messages app is active, follow the steps below to fix the problem on your Mac.

Sign Out of Messages App and Back In

If the Messages app on your Mac is still not working, signing out and back in may fix the problem. To sign out of the Messages app, click on “Messages” in the top of the window and go to “Preferences.” These settings control the connection between the Messages app and your messaging data associated with your Apple ID, phone number, and iCloud. Click on the “iMessage” section, which is accessible from the “@” symbol at the top of the screen.

Click on an option opposite your Apple ID titled “Sign Out.”

Screenshot showing the sign out option on Mac Messages app

Once you’re signed out, log back in to the Messages app to see if this fixes the issue. If not, proceed with this list of solutions.

Check Your Account Settings in Messages

To find your account settings, click on “Preferences” again.

Screenshot showing the preferences section for Mac Messages app

First, you need to make sure your device is enrolled in Messages. Your device needs to be enrolled in Messages in order to receive messages. This means you’ll need to log in to your Apple ID on your Mac. You can check your login status in the “Accounts” tab of the Messages preference window.

Screenshot showing how to change settings on Mac Messages app

You also need to check the address where you can be reached in these settings. Check all the available contact methods on the Accounts tab. Make sure to check all the boxes.

At the bottom of the Account tab, you’ll see a drop-down box labeled “Start new conversations from” with your available contact points listed. In order to avoid creating duplicate messages, make sure every device logged in to iCloud has the same option here. Your best bet is to use your cell phone number, since that setting is supported by the largest number of devices.

If your device is logged in but not syncing properly, scroll down to the iCloud sign-in step. Delete, then add your account back in, but follow the steps carefully.

Toggle Your iCloud Sign-In

Messages syncs with iCloud on newer versions of macOS. This can cause its own problems, unfortunately, and the best fix is an attempt to reset the connection.

The idea is to sign out of iCloud completely, reboot, then sign in to iCloud from a fresh boot. This can reset the Messages authentication, providing an opportunity for your Mac to reacquaint itself with the messaging server.

Screenshot showing the iCloud homepage

If you have data synced with iCloud, this can be a little tricky. First, you need to make sure you have your iCloud files backed up at all times anyway. iCloud isn’t a backup service, and it’s not reliable enough to act like one.

Your contacts and calendar appointments should be safe, but your files can get a little lost in this process, especially if you have “Desktop & Documents Sync” turned on. We would recommend downloading all your document and desktop files from iCloud and disabling that sync before proceeding. Be sure to keep the files on your Mac when you disable it!

Clear Your Mac’s Messages Cache

Screenshot of the Messages folder on a Mac

If you want to try and install Messages in a “clean” state, you can remove leftover login data. First, log out of iCloud and Messages. Then, delete the “~/Library/Messages” folder. You can also copy the folder to your Desktop if you want to preserve a copy of the cached messages for later.

Check Your Mac’s Time Settings

If your device time is incorrect, many authentication processes will fail. This includes Messages. If your time zone is set inaccurately or your clock is manually set to an inaccurate time, you will have all kinds of problems. This can cause issues from HTTPS failures to cookie loss to one-time password failures, so it’s a good idea to keep your clock in sync automatically. Apple is happy to do this for you, and you should let them. If you disabled it, set your clock to be automatically managed by Apple.

If your time is wrong, open “System Preferences -> Date & Time” and check “Set data and time automatically” at the top of the window. Apple then uses your location and IP address data to keep your Mac’s local time and system clock in sync.

Screenshot showing the Date and Time app on Mac

If that doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to sign out, then back in, as detailed above.

Hardware Serial Number Mismatch

In order to use Messages, you need to have a unique and unregistered Mac serial number. If your Mac is genuine Apple hardware, this won’t be an issue at all. It’s when you start working with Hackintosh systems – ersatz Macs built from off-the-shelf parts and a modified version of macOS – that you start running into problems.

messages-not-working-mac-smbios

In many cases, however, you can generate a valid and unused serial number. There are many of them out there: there are far, far more valid serial numbers than there ever will be Macs of a given generation. Getting that going requires a thorough-going spoof of a real Mac: the full process is far outside the scope of this post. However, you can find a good guide on Hackintosher.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Sync Mac Messages With iPhone?

To sync the messages you receive on your Mac with your iPhone, you’ll need to ensure you’re signed in with the same Apple ID, then go to “Settings -> Messages -> Text Messaging Forwarding.” Grant permission for your Mac to receive messages, verify everything, and you should be good to go. Check out this guide for more details.

How do I block unwanted messages on Mac?

You can go to “Preferences” under the “Messages” menu in the Messages app. In the “Blocked” tab, add the contact’s name or iMessage address to the block list. Check out this guide for more details.

Which Versions of macOS Will These Messages Tips Help?

These tips will help you fix the Mac Messages not working issue for devices operating on macOS Big Sur and later.

Wrapping Up

It’s not easy to fix Messages on macOS. There’s a lot going on within the app that cannot be touched by the user, and there’s a lot that relies on Apple’s own servers. If you continue to encounter problems with Messages not working on your Mac, you may want to reach out to Apple’s tech support to see if they can offer you a more detailed fix.

Danny Maiorca Danny Maiorca

Danny has been a professional writer for over five years. Now based in Copenhagen, Denmark, he plied his trade working for various companies in the UK — where he was born — before taking the leap into freelancing. He specializes in iOS and Mac.

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