Messages was one of the very first apps on the iPhone, and it survives today as a fully evolved communication tool.
However, not everyone uses this app to its full potential. And that’s a shame because there are a lot of neat features. Here are ten that you should know about for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
1. Reply to Specific Messages
If you’re in a group chat, you don’t always have time to read every message as it arrives. That’s why it’s handy that Messages lets you go back to earlier messages and reply to specific ones.
On a Mac, all you have to do is find the message you want to respond to, right-click on it, and then select, “Reply”. On an iPhone or iPad, you press and hold on the message and select, “Reply”.
Now, type your response. When you hit Send, the message you replied to will appear as a new message with your response below it.
2. Mute Group Conversations
If your group conversation is particularly chatty, it may be helpful to mute notifications until you have time to review the messages.
On a Mac, click the “i” in the top-right corner of the Messages window and choose, “Hide Alerts”. You can also right-click on a conversation to get the same option.
On an iPhone or iPad, tap the Memoji icons at the top of the message screen, and choose, “Hide Alerts”. If you prefer, long press on a conversation and select it that way.
3. Mention People in Messages
Occasionally, it’s important that someone receive a notification, even when they have Hide Alerts turned on. For times like that, mentions can be used.
You can mention anyone in a Messages group by typing the @ symbol, followed by their name. This ensures that a notification is still sent to that person’s device.
However, if you want to receive a notification on muted conversations, there is a setting you need to have enabled. You can find it on an iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > Messages > Mentions > Notify Me.
On a Mac, it’s in the Messages app under Settings > General > Notify me when my name is mentioned.
4. Translate a Message
If you are texting someone who is communicating in a language you are not fluent in, you may appreciate the opportunity to translate their message into your native language.
On a Mac, select the text in the message, right-click on it, and then select “Translate”. On an iPhone or iPad, long press on the message you want to translate, and then choose “Translate” from the pop-up menu.
If needed, you can change the default language to the one you need. You can also have the translated text read aloud by hitting the play button.
5. Filter Unknown Messages
Spam messages are annoying, but so are two-factor authentication codes. They clutter up your conversations and make it harder to find the people you actually want to communicate with. Filters fix that.
On a Mac, you can filter your messages with the View menu. By default, it shows All Messages, but you can change that to see known senders or just unread messages.
On an iPhone or iPad, you go to Settings > Messages and turn on Filter Unknown Senders. Once you have that enabled, you can go to the conversation view in Messages and tap “Filters” in the top-left corner.
This lets you filter by known senders, unknown senders, and unread messages.
6. Delete and Report Junk
Speaking of spam, I think it’s important to report it when you see it and not just delete it from your phone. Thankfully, Apple gives you that option.
When Apple detects that an incoming message might be spam, you will see a note underneath the last message that says, “Report Junk”. When you click or tap that, you can delete the message and report it to your carrier.
7. Edit Messages
I don’t know about you, but I am infamous for my typos. I use the swipe to type keyboard and for one reason or another, it is just not that good at predicting what I really want to say. It used to get me in trouble, but now that I can edit a text message, my life is a lot less stressful.
On a Mac, all you have to do is right-click on a message and then click “Edit”. On an iPhone or iPad, press and hold on a message for the same editing options.
You can edit any sent message for up to 15 minutes after you send it. Each message can be edited up to five times, and the recipient can click your message to see all the edits you made.
8. Unsend a Message
I love “Undo Send” in Gmail. I use it all the time. Not because I fire off angry emails to my supervisor and recall them before I get fired, it’s just…uh…well…you know…handy to have! 😇
In Apple Messages, you can unsend any message within two minutes of sending it. Mac users can right-click on a sent message to see that option, while iPhone and iPad users should long press on the message.
This is a relatively new feature, so it needs the operating systems to be up-to-date. For instance, if the person you’re messaging is on a device with iOS 15.6 (or earlier), or macOS 12 (or earlier), or is using SMS, the original message remains in the conversation. It will not be unsent.
And remember, two minutes is all you have if you change your mind about sending something. After that, you can edit the message, but as you saw above, the original message can still be viewed in the edits.
9. Mark Messages Unread
Another email trick that people like to use is marking messages as unread. I know some people who use that as a pseudo-task list. The unread messages are the ones they need to work on, or reply to.
That logic now works in Apple Messages. There are times when you don’t have time to reply to a message, but you don’t want to forget about it. Marking it as unread is a useful way to remind you it’s there.
On a Mac, you can click Conversation > Mark as Unread, or right-click on the conversation to get the same option. If you have an iPhone or iPad, swipe right on a conversation and choose, “Mark as Unread”.
10. Forward a Message
Forwarding a message from one person to another is faster than copy and paste, or retyping a message in a new conversation.
On a Mac, you can right-click on any message and select, “Forward”. Next, select who you want to send the message to and click Send.
On an iPhone or iPad, long press on the message, and select “More”. Then, tap the arrow in the bottom right of the screen and pick who you would like to forward the message to.
Forwarded messages can be edited, so if you want to preface the message with something like, “Jackie said…”, then you are more than welcome to.
Bonus Tip: Recover Deleted Messages
Remember the filters we talked about in tip #5 above? One of the filters available to view is called “Recently Deleted”. Here you will find deleted messages that could be up to 40 days old.
You can recover anything in “Recently Deleted” by selecting the conversation and then selecting “Recover”. This returns it to your message inbox. If you don’t immediately see it, scroll down. Conversations are sorted by date.