How to create an iMessage profile with a custom profile picture and display name on iPhone and iPad

Beginning with iOS 13, iPhone and iPad owners can create an iMessage profile in the Messages app that includes a custom photo and display name. The name and profile picture you set is visible to people you message on iMessage. This tutorial shows you how to create your iMessage profile and share your name and photo with friends.

Set your iMessage profile picture from iPhone settings


Apple’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi briefly mentioned this nifty little feature during the June 3 keynote address held at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2019.

Your iMessage profile can have a different display image and screen name than the photo and the first/last name designated in your Apple ID account. That way, you can have a standardized iMessage profile without changing your Apple ID profile photo and name.

Using your iMessage profile, chat recipients can easily update their local contact information with your new photo and first/last name. The other side will see a banner at the top along with an option to update their Contacts app with your updated name and image.

These iMessage profiles sync across devices via iCloud.

Third-party messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, WeChat, WhatsApp, Viber, and others have offered customizable profile pictures for years. With iOS 13, recognizable profile photographs and display names are now available within the Messages app.

If you’ve ever received a message that looks like this…

…chances are you may have wondered who that is. Well, with all-new iMessage profiles in iOS 13, you could be looking at something like this:

Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial included right ahead to learn how to create and customize your iMessage profile to make it easier for people you message with to identify you.

How to create an iMessage profile on iPhone or iPad

Follow the steps below to create your iMessage profile with a display name and photo:

1) Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 13 or later.

2) Select Messages in the main list.

3) Tap the option labeled Share Name and Photo > Choose Name and Photo.

Share Name and Photo in iPhone Messages Settings

Tip: You can also fire up the Messages app, tap Edit from the top-left corner, and select the option labeled Edit Name and Photo from the popup menu.

4) Choose one of the suggested photos you want to use or tap the three dots to see more options.

  • Take a photo: Tap the Camera icon to take a selfie or snap a photo with the rear camera and use it as your iMessage photo.
  • Pick a photo: Tap the photos icon to choose an image from your Photos app.
  • Use an emoji: Select the smiley button and use any emoji on a colored background as your profile picture.
  • Use your initials: Choose the pencil icon to add a monogram and use it as your iMessage profile photo.
  • Choose a Siri-suggested headshot: If you have named faces in Photos, Siri intelligence will pick some of your best headshots that you can select instantly underneath the Suggestions heading. Tap one of the listed face shots, then tap Edit to customize it.
Choose Your Photo to Share in iPhone Messages Settings

5) Follow the simple on-screen instructions, that is, tap Done > Done > Continue. In the Use This Photo Everywhere popup, you can tap Use to use the same image everywhere or tap Not Now if you want to use it only in iMessage.

Use This Photo Everywhere popup in iPhone Messages settings

6) Enter your first and last name.

7) Choose to share with Contacts Only or Always Ask and tap Done.

Set Up Name and Photo Sharing for iPhone Messages

Your newly selected name and profile photo is what folks will see when interacting with you in Messages.

As we said before, iMessage profiles are separate from Apple IDs and the My Card in Contacts. Just make sure not to tap Use in the Use This Photo Everywhere alert box. In other words, customizing your iMessage profile name will not affect your Apple ID user name, nor will it update the first and last name found on your card in Contacts.

Use Animoji/Memoji as an iMessage profile photo

To set any Animoji/Memoji as your iMessage profile photo, do the following:

1) Open Settings and tap Messages.

2) Tap the option labeled Share Name and Photo.

3) Select Add Photo below the mugshot to bring up an image picker. If your iMessage profile photo is already set, tap Edit instead.

Edit iMessage profile picture

4) Pick your favorite Animoji from the list or tap + to create one. You can also tap one > the camera icon > strike a pose > tap the blue shutter button > Next.

Create Memoji for iMessage profile picture

5) Pinch & drag and move & scale the photo before hitting Choose.

6) Now select the background color for your Animoji/Memoji.

Customize Memoji for iMessage profile picture

7) Tap Done > Done > Not Now or Use to save the changes.

Save Memoji as iMessage profile picture

Edit an existing iMessage profile image

Here’s how to customize your existing iMessage profile photo:

1) Open Settings and tap Messages in the main list.

2) Select Share Name and Photo.

3) Choose Edit below your existing iMessage profile photo.

Edit your current iMessage photo

4) From here, you can use one of the options to set a new iMessage profile picture. To edit the one you’re currently using, tap it, and from there you can:

  • Adjust the crop: To adjust the profile image’s crop, tap Edit underneath the existing profile image, and then move and scale the image by pinching and dragging and tap Choose when satisfied. Select an optional filter if desired.
  • Duplicate the profile image: Tap Duplicate to create a copy of your profile photo for multiple customizations. For example, you could create several variations of a single profile photo: one could be zoomed in while another could have the Vivid filter applied to it, and so forth.
Edit or Duplicate iMessage photo

5) Finally, tap Done > Not Now or Use to have the changes saved.

Adjust sharing options

Here how to change the privacy option of your iMessage profile:

1) Open Settings and tap Messages in the main list.

2) Tap the option labeled Share Name and Photo.

3) Under Share Automatically, tap:

  • Contacts Only: Your iMessage profile will be automatically shared with people in your Contacts the next time you send an iMessage in the Messages app.
  • Always Ask: You will get prompted before your iMessage profile photo and display name are shared with anyone you message through the iMessage protocol (the blue bubble).
Share Automatically settings for iMessage profile photo

As you can see for yourself, you’re completely in control of who sees your name and picture inside the Messages app. Needless to say, having your name and picture automatically shared with everyone may not be the smartest idea from a security standpoint.

For those wondering, your iMessage profile is only shared when you actually message with someone, and it must be done using the iMessage protocol. This private information is never revealed to the other side if you send SMS/MMS messages (the green bubble).

Delete your iMessage profile image

To remove an existing iMessage profile photo, do the following:

1) Open Settings and tap Messages.

2) Tap the option labeled Share Name and Photo.

3) Tap Edit below your existing iMessage profile photo.

4) On the next screen, tap X in the top right of the current image.

Remove iMessage profile photo

5) Tap Done > Not Now to confirm the operation. Your iMessage profile photo will now be a monogram with your initials.

Besides that, you can also turn off the Name and Photo Sharing toggle to stop sharing your name and photo.

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