Fix the iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Error
Despite setting up iMessage properly, some users occasionally encounter a “Waiting for Activation” error either upon updating to a new version of iOS or getting a new device. It’s a pretty annoying error since so much dialog is reliant on messaging these days, so we’ll run through a series of troubleshooting tips to fix the problem once and for all.
First things first, make sure you are connected to a wi-fi connection. There are various reports out there of iMessage not initially activating for some users over cellular connections, and thus connecting to a local wireless router will either resolve that or rule that out. Also, if you have iMessage working on one device and the issue is with syncing, jump to the bottom of this article and you’ll see some tips recommended for that situation instead.
Next, try these two tricks in any particular order:
1) Set “My Info” As Yourself
This should have set itself, but if not, here’s how:
- Open “Settings” and go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”
- Scroll down to the “Contacts” section and tap on “My Info”
- Select your own (yes, yourself) contact card from the list
This identifies your phone number and your email address as yourself, which iMessage uses to activate, thereby knowing where to deliver messages to and where to send from. This fixes the iMessage activation issue for most people by itself.
2) Reset Network Settings
Many connection errors can be resolved by simply resetting network preferences. Be sure to have wi-fi router passwords handy before doing this, because you will need to re-enter them again.
- Open Settings then go to “General” and scroll down to “Reset”
- Choose “Reset Network Settings”
Reboot the iOS device and give it a few minutes. iMessage and FaceTime should be working.
If you’re still having issues, you can try completely restoring your iOS device to factory settings and then recovering with a backup. It’s a bit of an extreme approach, but it can help to resolve continued problems.
Extreme: Erase Everything & Restore
This is obviously a less-than-ideal solution, but it has been reported with some success for various iPhone, iPod, and iPad users. This puts your iOS device back into the original state when you bought it, which you can then restore from a backup.
- Back up your iOS device manually either through iTunes or iCloud – this is important or you will lose everything
- After backup is complete (no really, did you backup?), go to “Settings” > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings to initiate the factory restore
- Confirm the reset and wait, when finished restore from the backup you made
This entire process can take a while, depending on the size of the backups, what’s stored on your device, amongst other things. You may want to go with the fastest way to restore and backup using iTunes rather than iCloud, simply because it’s quicker to transfer data over USB than the internet.
Some Additional iMessage Troubleshooting Tips
Once you get iMessage working on one device, you’ll probably want to be sure it syncs across all your iOS devices and between iOS and OS X as well. Sometimes they don’t happen by themselves, and they’re both resolved with separate fixes.