Fix the iMessage “Waiting for Activation” Error on iPhone, iPad
Are you seeing a “Waiting for activation” error when trying to use iMessage on iPhone or iPad? Despite setting up iMessage properly, some users occasionally encounter a “Waiting for Activation” error with iMessage, usually either upon updating to a new version of iOS or getting a new device and configuring iMessage for the first time. This can be a pretty annoying error since so much of modern communication and dialog is reliant on messaging these days, but not to worry, as it’s usually an easy remedy to fix the waiting for activation error encountered on an iPhone or iPad.
We’ll run through a series of troubleshooting tips to fix the “waiting for activation” problem in iOS once and for all. These troubleshooting tricks will help to fix the “Waiting for activation” iMessage error on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, running any version of iOS. Let’s begin.
How to Fix iMessage “Waiting for Activation” on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
If you are trying to resolve the iMessage waiting for activation error message on an iPhone or iPad with iMessage, first try the following tips before beginning the troubleshooting methods detailed further below.
1: Wait a few minutes to activate
Before anything else, be sure you wait at least 5 minutes or so before going further. Sometimes it can take a while to activate iMessage, though usually it is fast. Possible delays with activating iMessage depend on Apple servers, how many users who are trying to activate iMessage at the same time, and the devices own internet connection.
2: Update iOS System Software
Make sure you update iOS to the latest version available for your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch), since the latest versions tend to include bug fixes. You can do this through Settings app > General > Software Update
3: Connect to Wi-Fi and/or Cellular Data
Next, 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. Also, be sure if it is an iPhone or cellular iPad that cellular data is working properly.
Troubleshooting iMessage “waiting for activation” in iOS
Now that your iOS is updated and the device is connected to a wi-fi network, try these troubleshooting tricks in any particular order on an iPhone or iPad showing the ‘waiting for activation’ message when trying to enable iMessage on the iOS device:
1) Toggle iMessage OFF and ON Again
When you see the “Waiting for activation…” message and it has been stuck on that message for at least 30 minutes, you can try simply toggling iMessage OFF and back ON again. This often fixes the problem immediately.
- Open Settings and go to “Messages”
- Locate the iMessage switch and turn it OFF, let it sit off for about 30 seconds or so
- Switch the iMessage toggle back ON, it will attempt to activate again
At the same screen, you should also choose to “Use Apple ID for iMessage” if you have not done that already.
Most of the time just toggling off and on again after the iOS update has been installed and the device is on a network will fix the problem. And yes this works for all versions of iOS, whether it’s iOS 12, iOS 11, iOS 10, iOS 9, iOS 8, iOS 7, iOS 6, as long as it supports iMessage, even if the setting screen looks a little different.
Easy! But not to worry if you still have issues, we have more troubleshooting techniques at hand.
2) Set “My Info” As Yourself
This should have set itself when you were setting up iMessage to begin with, but if not, here’s how to do this:
- Open “Settings” app 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 when the other techniques failed.
3) 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.
Did this fix your iMessage “Waiting for activation…” issue? Do you have another trick that resolved the problem for you and your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? Let us know in the comments below.