iMessage is one of my favorite new features in iOS 5. It’s simple, fast, and most importantly integrated right into the Messages app, which makes it even more compelling, assuming you have friends with iDevices as well.

If you have an iPhone your iMessages are sent to your phone number by default, which acts like your iMessage ID, if you will. If you have an iPad, you can only receive iMessages sent to your registered email address. But what happens if you want to receive all your iMessages on all of your iDevices?

Fortunately, Apple thought that through, and they you can add an email address as your iMessage ID on your iPhone as well.

Making an Email Address Your iMessage ID

Navigate to Settings > Messages > Receive At > Use Your Apple ID for iMessage on your iPhone.

If you do not want to use your Apple ID for iMessage, you can always choose “Add An Email” from the same Settings page, and add whatever email address you want people to send iMessages to, but make sure it is the same as the one used on your iPad or iPod touch.

By doing this, you will be able to receive iMessages sent to your phone number, but also messages sent to your email address. Obviously, you will have to let people know they can iMessage you at this address.

From now on, anytime someone sends you an iMessage to your email address, both your iPhone and iPad will receive it.

Sending iMessages From the Same ID

You can’t control where you receive your iMessages (either email or phone number), but you sure can control where you send them from.

If your goal is to centralize all iMessages, you also want to set the same caller ID on all your devices. Like the name suggests, the caller ID is the email or phone number used to send the iMessage. Basically, you can tell your iPhone to either send messages from your phone number, or from your email address.

Because we’re trying to turn all our devices into central hubs, we want to use an email address as caller ID, and make sure that this same email address is set as the caller ID on all of your iDevices.

To set this up (once you have added at least one email address), go back to Settings > Messages > Receive At > Caller ID, and select your email address.

Repeat this for all your iDevices.

Going Forward

From now on, all your iMessages will be sent with your email address as the caller ID. This means that even if someone doesn’t know your email address as your ID, they will still receive messages from you showing the email address as the ID, and iMessage will take care of the rest, making sure that if this person replies, it will be sent to your email ID on all your devices.

Now what happens if someone doesn’t know your email address and sends you an iMessage to your phone number? Well, you will only get that iMessage on your phone, and there is nothing you can do about that.

When that happens to me, the first thing I do is delete the iMessage conversation with this person, then I start a new one, which is going to be initiated with my email address as the caller ID. When this person hits “reply” to reply to your message, it will be sent automatically to your email address because it’s the one you sent the message from in the first place. Confusing? Yeah, I know.

Alternatively, you can always tell people to add your email address to their contacts and use this going forward.

I realize all this can be a bit confusing but, unfortunately, this is the best way to go about it. Hopefully Apple will figure out a way to let iPad owners who also own an iPhone use their phone number for iMessages on the iPad as well, but this is just not possible at the time.

I hope this tutorial helps. Let us know if you have questions or comments.

  • Dann

    Now what happens if someone doesn’t know your email address and sends you an iMessage to your phone number? Well, you will only get that iMessage on your phone, and there is nothing you can do about that”

    Should have been the first paragraph. I want my five minutes back

    • Don’t be such a troll and read the full article. This is explained in there.

      • Ivn

        Hahahahaha !

      • BLckAapL

        +1 Epic! ;D

    • zonkered

      LoL 

      • iGirl_in_SC


  • Yanni4100

    Hey, nice article you wrote there
    My only question: I’m the only one with an iOS5 device in my Familiy and everyone else has an iPhone 3G or iPod Touch 2G.
    Will there be a Tweak or App for jailbroken iOS4 devices to use iMessage?

    • I really can’t tell at this point but it is not impossible.

      • Yanni4100

        Thats what I thought. But I’m sure you will post more if something comes up.

  • ic0dex

    I hate that T-Mobile users have to use a email to send and receive iMessages. You don’t get the option to use your cell number.

  • kokhean

    Or just use WhatsApp.

    • Josh

      Troll alert!

      • kokhean

        Multiple platforms
        Simple phone number registration

        iOS 5 only
        Hard to find everyone’s e-mail address
        Recipients must set an option to let people see if he/she had read the message

  • Philippe

    Could you help to solve the duplicates problem I have on my contact list? iCloud contacts are all uptodate but iPhone contacts are duplicate and erroneous.,. Don’t know how to solve it… Should I erase all my contacts on the iPhone? Will this action erase all the contacts on iCloud ?

    • Burge

      In contacts left select one ..

  • Proinsias

    Hey seb, nice article.
    I know this isn’t the exact right place to post this but i need a quick answer if possible. Have you heard of any bug in ios5 (jb of course) where the iPhone can’t receive calls?? Today my phone just won’t alert me even tho the phone that is calling me has a dial tone. Even when I try call someone and it sort of freezes on my side but the other phone rings and is answerable. Really frustrated and slightly worried. :-/ please help I’d you can.

  • Jaff

    I am really having problem activating iMessage with my phone, it always says activation unsuccessful, guys, have any ideas?

  • naflish

    why can’t Apple just use my Apple ID and push the iMessage to whatever iDevices i have? What confusing people with this phone number vs email approach?…

    • naflish

      i mean “Why confusing ppl…” typo…typo..

  • Me

    Sebastien, if you read this…you can use the BiteSMS beta to autoforward to an iMessage email address. Don’t have a second device on iOS5 to test whether it’ll duplicate on the receiving device – but that might fix the ‘iMessage received to number not email’ issue.

  • amer

    i have aproblem with imessege my country is not listed iam from kuwait the problem is when i add the country code to some of my friends like +965 and the phone number when they call me my phone dont recognize them and just give me the numbers but in imessege the full name but when iremove the code when they call me isee the names but in imesseges just the numbers alot of ppl here in my country why does this happen to us why we are not listed can you tell how to complain about this dillema any idea

  • LRB471

    question for you: my itunes account was originally under my dad’s email and due to wanting to keep protected downloaded songs from itunes, i have just left it that way. does this mean that my dad will have access to all my messages and possibly receive things in his email? i tried to remove this email address but it won’t let me select that option because it matches my appleID.

  • Shelby

    So I had my iPhone and ipad connected to iMessages and texts would come to both devices. In lost my iPhone and had to get a new number. How do I disconnect the old phone number from my ipad and add the new one?