Send an iMessage as a Text Message Instead from iPhone

Nov 18, 2012 - 12 Comments

Messages iMessage is an undeniably great service for free messaging between iPhones, iOS, and OS X, but it’s not flawless, and sometimes an iMessage will fail to send if you’re on a low cellular signal or have insufficient bandwidth. Additionally, there are times when trying to send a message through iMessage is slower than sending text messages, or they won’t deliver at all due to some unforeseen error. If you’ve ran into the problem where an imessage won’t send, you’re familiar with the infinite “Sending” bar that never moves until you’re back in a better cell reception area. But you don’t have to wait forever to send out your message, because if you have any cellular signal at all on the iPhone you can fall back to sending texts.

That’s right, iPhone users can choose to selectively send an SMS text message instead of the iMessage to the recipient. This can be done on a per-message basis at any time, but it’s particularly handy if you find an iMessage is unable to send for whatever reason with a “Send Failure” message or otherwise.

How to Send SMS Text Messages Instead of iMessage

To send a traditional text rather than through iMessage on a per-message basis, just do the following on your iPhone:

  1. Tap and hold on the message you want to send as a text
  2. From the pop-up menu, select “Send as Text Message”

Here’s what this looks like:

Send an iMessage as a text message
Note: With iPhones that have iOS text-to-speech enabled you will need to tap the > arrow button to reveal this additional texting option.

The message should immediately send as a text, which can be identified as such because the speech bubble will appear as green rather than blue. SMS has the wonderful advantage of working under just about any reception situation, and of course it works when Apple’s iMessage servers are down too.

Do be aware that by sending messages as text SMS rather than over iMessage you man incur charges with your cell provider, depending on what your text messaging plan allows for. Though many carriers offer unlimited texting plans, many users have downsized their general SMS plans if not canceled them outright, and began to rely instead on iMessage exclusively, which is free. Obviously that has the benefit of reducing a phone bill, but it’s possible that your cellular carrier will start charging you for each sent text messages on a per-SMS basis, which can add up quick to an expensive bill if you’re not cautious. Ultimately that potential just means you should be cautious of sending messages as texts like this, since even if you have unlimited SMS the recipient may not.

This appears to be a fairly new iOS feature, and you shouldn’t have to use it often unless you decide to, or unless you’re frequently in areas with bad cell coverage. iMessage does go down sometimes but it’s fairly rare, and a more likely cause of imessage issues is that the user somehow didn’t set it up properly to begin with.

Finally, it should be pointed out this is only possible on the iPhone because the iPhone has a traditional cellular carrier plan to send texts through the SMS protocol with, while the iPad can send iMessages, it does not have the ability to send SMS texts without the use of an app like Skype.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

12 Comments

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  1. Ted Bouvi says:

    OK that is a great trick and works awesome. Question though: how do you switch the conversation back to using iMessage?

  2. Jimmy says:

    This was a feature of iOS 5. It was introduced with iMessage.

  3. cee202 says:

    iMessage is now back up!

  4. Jim Upchurch says:

    Does NOT work for me. I can press and hold the blue balloon until forever, and all I see is “Copy.” iPhone 4 running i)S 6.01. Is there some other setting I have to have turned on?

  5. Felix says:

    I’m having the same problem as Jim Upchurch.
    It’s sending to the iMessage account on my wife’s iPad, but I need it to go to her (non-iPhone) phone!

    • Alex says:

      It only works when the message is sent and not delivered. (There should be no loading bar at top, and it shouldn’t say Delivered under the bubble)

  6. Alex says:

    This is a function since iOS 5, and it only works when the message is sent but not delivered.

  7. iMessage only works for me when I am on WiFi. I use Optus and it has never worked for me. Then again I think my .ipcc file is broken because tethering never worked either.
    As far as I can tell, you can’t turn off iMessage for people unless you remove their email address from the Contact, or go back to the old Nokia way of doing things with multiple entries for each person.

  8. cathi says:

    I did this and now it won’t switch back but my settings say imessage is still on. and it’s only within this conversation….help!!

  9. Mila says:

    I did that and now it won’t switch back to imessage !!! My imessage is still on and it’s only doing this with one conversation, i turned my phone off & on and change it from Mobile to iphone and it still won’t go back to imessage !!

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