How to Sync iMessages on iOS and macOS

Two actors in sync.

The most used app on iOS is iMessage, and yet it’s often not set up correctly. A draft started on one of your Apple devices may not show up on the others. Of course, this presents a problem that you’ll want to fix. Here we show you how to sync iMessages on iOS and macOS. We look at each platform in turn and also provide some further troubleshooting tips if you still can’t get things working.

How to Sync iMessages on iOS and macOS

Let’s start by setting up an Apple ID to use with iMessage, rather than a phone number or email address for each device. Not doing this is a common reason for a sync failure on iOS and macOS.

Later, we offer some further troubleshooting tips in case you’re still experiencing issues.

1. iOS

To begin, we need to verify that iMessage is using your Apple ID. To do this, head to the Settings page on your iPhone and navigate to Messages.

The Messages link in iOS.

Next, tap the “Send & Receive” link.

The Send & Receive link in iOS.

If your Apple ID is shown here, you’re good to go. However, you may need to log in. For the “You Can Receive iMessages to and Reply From” section, make sure your phone number is selected to Start New Conversations. Alternatively, select your primary email address only if you don’t have a phone number to associate with iMessage.

Choosing your primary number in iOS.

Note the settings you select here, as you’ll want to do the same across all of your devices. Once you’ve set your Apple devices correctly, check the syncing to see if it’s working. If not, head to the later section on further steps to take.

2. macOS

In contrast to iOS, macOS has a slightly different approach. To begin, launch the Messages app in whatever fashion is comfortable. Next, select the Messages drop-down menu from the toolbar and open the Preferences screen.

The Messages Preferences screen.

Next, navigate to the iMessage tab. Much like with iOS, you’ll need to verify that your Apple ID is in use, although you may need to log in.

Sync Imessage Account

Here, check the “Start new conversations” from the drop-down menu. This should have your primary phone number or email address selected. In a nutshell, it should be the same as whatever you’ve set on your iOS devices.

Once you’re done, save your changes and test whether the syncing is working. If not, take a look at the next section.

What to Do If You Still Can’t Sync iMessages on iOS and macOS

The first step to get iOS and macOS iMessages syncing is to try resetting iMessage.

To do this on iOS, navigate to “Settings -> Messages” and toggle the iMessage switch off.

Toggling iMessage in iOS.

While a device restart isn’t necessary before turning iMessage back on, it is recommended. To shut down your device, press and hold the Power button on the right side of your iPhone and the top Volume control. Then, swipe the slide to power off setting.

Turn the device back on, and once it’s loaded, navigate to “Settings -> Messages” and turn the iMessage switch back on. You may need to re-enter your Apple ID credentials, but this should do the trick.

For macOS, launch the Messages app and open the Preferences menu again. Next, navigate to the iMessage tab. Here, sign out of your Apple ID, then sign back in.

Signing out from iMessage in macOS.

As with iOS, a device restart isn’t necessary, but it could help clear up any issues. At this point, iMessages should sync again.

If the issue still persists, you’ll want to check your Internet connection on a general basis for any faults. Toggling your Wi-Fi on and off can sometimes spark any connected services back to life.

If you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you should try restarting this, too. By now, you’ve tested your connections and Internet. If you’re still getting an issue syncing iMessages on iOS and macOS, it may be time to make a Genuis Bar appointment to get the matter fixed for good.

Of course, being able to send and receive iMessages is essential to Apple device users, regardless of whether you’re a business or personal user. Ultimately, resetting your devices and reconnecting them to your Apple ID will get things back up and running in most cases.

If you’d like to customize your iMessage experience further, learn how you can change the bubble color.

Tom Rankin
Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox