How to Setup and Use iMessages on a Mac

Introduction

With Messages for Mac, you can send unlimited messages to any Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that uses iMessage, Apple's secure-messaging service. It also supports several other messaging services that work with Apple and non-Apple devices. iPhone owners can use it for SMS and MMS messages, too.

This guide will go over basic setup and usage for messaging on your MacBook Pro.

Before You Begin:
  • Your Mac needs to be connected to the internet.
Make Sure Your Mac is Online
macOS system and iphone with messages on it

1 Setup Messages

iMessage is the Apple messaging service you get automatically with your Apple ID. If it's not already set up, you're asked to sign in when you first open the Messages app.

  1. Click the Messages app icon within your dock across the bottom of the screen.
    Messages icon
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID. It's usually the same Apple ID that you use for iCloud, the iTunes Store, the App Store, and the account you created when you first set up your Mac. It would also be the same Apple ID you would use if you have an iPhone or iPad.
    iMessages sign in
  3. To add a third-party messaging service, choose Add Account from the Message menu.
    Message menu with Add account selected. Screenshot.
  4. Then choose an account provider and follow the onscreen instructions from that provider.
    Message account provider screen with Google, Aol, and Other Messages Account options. Screenshot.
  5. To disable a messaging service or change its settings, choose Preferences from the Messages menu, then click Accounts.
    Accounts screen with Accounts selected. Screenshot.

2 Have a Conversation

  1. Click compose at the top of the Messages window.
    Compose.
  2. Address your message by typing the recipient's name, email address, or phone number. Or click + and choose a recipient. If they're in your Contacts app, Messages finds them as you type. To start a group conversation, just add more recipients.
  3. Type your message in the field at the bottom of the window, then press Return to send it.
    • To include emoji, click the Smiley Face.
      Smiley face.
    • To include an image or other file, just drag or paste it into the message field.
    • To include an audio recording, click the microphone and record your message.
      Microphone.
  4. After starting a conversation, click Details in the corner of the window to take other actions, including:
    • Choose not to be disturbed by notifications about this conversation.
    • Use FaceTime to start an audio call or video call.
      Telephone. Video.
    • Share your screen.
      Screen share.
    • See the recipient's location—if they're sharing their location with you.
    • Review all of the photos and files that were exchanged in the conversation.
    • Add a group name, add members to a group, or leave a group. If the group has four or more members, you can remove members: Control-click the member's name, then choose Remove from Conversation.

iMessage's contact details

With macOS Sierra, you can also use Siri to send, read, and reply to Messages. For example, you can tell Siri:

  • ”Send a message to Susan and Johnny saying I'll be late," or ”Tell Johnny Appleseed the show is about to start,” or ”Text a message to 408 555 1212.”
  • ”Read the last message from Brian Park,” or ”Read my new messages.”
  • ”Reply that's great news,” or ”Tell him I'll be there in 10 minutes.”

3 Add a Tapback to Messages

macOS Sierra introduces Tapback to the Mac. A Tapback is a quick response that expresses what you think about a message, such as that you like it or think it's funny. Here's how to do it:

  1. Control-click a message bubble to open a shortcut menu.
  2. Choose Tapback from the menu.
  3. Click a Tapback to add it to the message bubble.

Your Tapback is visible to everyone in the conversation who is using iMessage with macOS Sierra or iOS 10. Other iMessage users see "Liked" or "Laughed at" or "Emphasized," for example, followed by the text of that message.
Tapback

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With Messages for Mac, you can send unlimited messages to any Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that uses iMessage, Apple's secure-messaging service. It also supports several other messaging services that work with Apple and non-Apple devices. iPhone owners can use it for SMS and MMS messages, too.

This guide will go over basic setup and usage for messaging on your MacBook Pro.

Before You Begin:
  • Your Mac needs to be connected to the internet.
Make Sure Your Mac is Online
macOS system and iphone with messages on it

iMessage is the Apple messaging service you get automatically with your Apple ID. If it's not already set up, you're asked to sign in when you first open the Messages app.

  1. Click the Messages app icon within your dock across the bottom of the screen.
    Messages icon
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID. It's usually the same Apple ID that you use for iCloud, the iTunes Store, the App Store, and the account you created when you first set up your Mac. It would also be the same Apple ID you would use if you have an iPhone or iPad.
    iMessages sign in
  3. To add a third-party messaging service, choose Add Account from the Message menu.
    Message menu with Add account selected. Screenshot.
  4. Then choose an account provider and follow the onscreen instructions from that provider.
    Message account provider screen with Google, Aol, and Other Messages Account options. Screenshot.
  5. To disable a messaging service or change its settings, choose Preferences from the Messages menu, then click Accounts.
    Accounts screen with Accounts selected. Screenshot.
  1. Click compose at the top of the Messages window.
    Compose.
  2. Address your message by typing the recipient's name, email address, or phone number. Or click + and choose a recipient. If they're in your Contacts app, Messages finds them as you type. To start a group conversation, just add more recipients.
  3. Type your message in the field at the bottom of the window, then press Return to send it.
    • To include emoji, click the Smiley Face.
      Smiley face.
    • To include an image or other file, just drag or paste it into the message field.
    • To include an audio recording, click the microphone and record your message.
      Microphone.
  4. After starting a conversation, click Details in the corner of the window to take other actions, including:
    • Choose not to be disturbed by notifications about this conversation.
    • Use FaceTime to start an audio call or video call.
      Telephone. Video.
    • Share your screen.
      Screen share.
    • See the recipient's location—if they're sharing their location with you.
    • Review all of the photos and files that were exchanged in the conversation.
    • Add a group name, add members to a group, or leave a group. If the group has four or more members, you can remove members: Control-click the member's name, then choose Remove from Conversation.

iMessage's contact details

With macOS Sierra, you can also use Siri to send, read, and reply to Messages. For example, you can tell Siri:

  • ”Send a message to Susan and Johnny saying I'll be late," or ”Tell Johnny Appleseed the show is about to start,” or ”Text a message to 408 555 1212.”
  • ”Read the last message from Brian Park,” or ”Read my new messages.”
  • ”Reply that's great news,” or ”Tell him I'll be there in 10 minutes.”

macOS Sierra introduces Tapback to the Mac. A Tapback is a quick response that expresses what you think about a message, such as that you like it or think it's funny. Here's how to do it:

  1. Control-click a message bubble to open a shortcut menu.
  2. Choose Tapback from the menu.
  3. Click a Tapback to add it to the message bubble.

Your Tapback is visible to everyone in the conversation who is using iMessage with macOS Sierra or iOS 10. Other iMessage users see "Liked" or "Laughed at" or "Emphasized," for example, followed by the text of that message.
Tapback

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