How To Tell If You’re Sending an iMessage or a Text on iOS 5

iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S have only been out for a short time, but I’m already getting asked a lot of questions about the new iMessage app.

Common questions include, “Why there are green bubbles and blue bubbles?” and “Why can’t I send iMessages to a friend’s iPhone?”

These are all good questions, and I hope to help you figure out what’s going on in the iPhone messages app, so that you can save on text message costs.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no individual iMessage app, the standard Message app you know and love will automatically send messages as a text or as an iMessage depending on the device your contact has.

Blue Bubble, Green Bubble – Text or iMessage

When you send a message in the Message app on your iPhone 4S or older iPhone with iOS 5, the app will check to see if your contact has an iPhone.


iMessage iOS 5 iPhone 4S
Blue Bubbles indicate an iMessage

If you are sending a message to an iPhone user, or to the Apple ID of an iPad user, you will see the name turn blue, and your messages will be blue. There is also an “iMessage” indicator in the text entry field. You can see this in the image above.

Text message on iOS 5 iPhone 4S
Green Bubbles indicate a Text

If you are sending a message to someone with any other phone, or to a Google Voice number, the name will show up as green. The text bubbles will also be green, the indicator will also show “Text Message”, where you type.

Why Do You want iMessage?

Group iMessage with Picture on iOS 5
Group iMessage with a Picture on iOS 5


In addition to saving you the cost of sending a text message, you can send group messages easily over iMessage. Even better, you can drop in photos and videos to share with your friends. This is great for instantaneous sharing and coordinating. An iMessage brings the urgency of a text message, so you’ll still get  faster responses from most friends.

Why Can’t I send an iMessage to a Friend’s iPhone?

If your friend has an iPhone, but you can’t send them an iMessage, they don’t have iOS 5. If they have an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, they can upgrade to iOS 5 for free in about half an hour. In addition to iMessage, there are a number of benefits to upgrading to iOS 5 which you can share with them. One of my favorites is the new notification center.

Here’s how to upgrade to iOS 5 and 5 Things to Do Before You Upgrade to iOS 5.

You can watch the iOS 5 overview video below for many more of the iOS 5 features.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]


  1. My ios5 phone send both sms and imessage at the same time (i.e the same txt) and i also recieve txt and imessages (both same message) from friends on ios5, whats that all about????

  2. Is there only one “user” account ?
    I really don’t want to know my daughters reminders about homework nor have my reminders appear on her iPod.

    Can I send an iMessage to my (child’s) itouch.

  3. But… My friend gave me their iMessage email cause they have an iPod touch and we try to send each other a message but it doesn’t work. It goes to a regular text message…
    I can’t seem to fix it /:

  4. I have an iPhone 4s, and I have three other iPhone 4s’ on my family account, and I text them all day long and it ALWAYS sends it as a text, iMessage has never worked… any reason why?

  5. No match to BBM. Apple is trying to copy BBM. But BBM is the best as its secure, fast and very easy to use. And i can keep only my family members on the BBM list and not everyone who uses the BB. Iphone doesnt gives this option and simply is not appealing. Overpriced android phones is Iphone…….. ILoot, looting money from the users!! Gone for good steve jobs

    • You don’t understand the concept of iMessage as it differs quite a lot form BBM.  iMessage does not require to exchange a PIN,it works right on your contact list with plain phone numbers.  Also if you loose or change your iPhone you can continue to use it with a new one unlike BB where you get a new PIN and have to distribute it again.  Also iMessage integrates into the same application, no need to use different aplpications.  It is a more polished experience IMO.

  6. I heard that if both users are txting on ios5 on Message than it is free and doesn’t count on your bill if u have I restricted amount of txts… Is this try? Please answer

    • go to SETTINGS > Messages > iMessage > make sure it is ON. Then scroll down to MMS Messaging > turn it ON. now it should work for iPhone numbers.

      • [email protected]

        Thank you, at last there is a simple answer that works,

  7. If it’s not working first make sure it’s on in Settings & then also make sure your contact’s number is listed as iPhone & not Mobile. That sorted my iMessage out

  8. Sometimes I’ll be texting with another iPhone and it’s blue but then the next bubble is green. Then the next is blue. What’s up with that?

      • Yes me too, One bubble in blue, and the next in green??? To the same person during the same conversation? Could it be that the receiving person is getting two messages at exactly the same time?

        •  I’d like to know the answer to that also. Blue during the entire conversation, then a green one, then all blue again. Don’t get it..

        • probably connection problems. uncheck the box that allows to send sms instead of imessage in configuration

    • probably connection problems. uncheck the box that allows to send sms instead of imessage in configuration

  9. The first time I tried iMessage through wifi, it works I wasn’t charged. But the second time I tried it with wifi again, when I sent it, it first turned out blue, but then a couple minutes later it turned green as a txt message..then it started charging me…why? Is there a way to fix this?

  10. I have an ipod touch with ios 5 and my husband has an iphone4 with ios 5 and I CANNOT send him imessages…it is turned on, we are registered, everything. When I type the message, the send button does not send…what gives here????

  11. I have an iPod touch and my friend has an iPod touch and I can’t get apps but I got iMessages through iCloud. But we don’t know how to send messages to each other…. Please help :(

  12. My friend has ios5 but my text message goes through as text message 20% of the time and iMessage 80% of the time. Why is this?

  13. I get charged for sending texts from Canada when I visit there. Would I get charged for sending iMessages?

  14. When i try to send a IMessage its not workin it says message failure and i have internet connection that is working i do not know why its not really working please help with this!

  15. I sent a message ( IMESSAGE ) to my friends to see if it works, yes it does work, but my email shows up when they get the message.. Does anyone know why? i want my number to show up. 

    • In settings go to messages then ‘receive at’ then ‘caller ID’ that will let you change if your number or email show up.

  16. Do you have to pay if u wanna send a text to a person that doesnt have a ipod touch, ipad, iphone etc…???

  17. Both my husband and myselft have iPhone 4s iOS 5 and the messages are in both colours and sometimes i get the meassage twice. Can anyone answer why????

  18. My friend had an iPhone but now he has an android, my iPhone refuses to acknowledge this and continues to send iMessages instead of texts, which he obviously never receives. How can I change it?

    • Go into your contacts> click edit your poor friend (the one with the android) > change his mobile device from iPhone to mobile > click ‘done’ and now it should recognize him as a welfare wannabe phone and text him

  19. My understanding is that the difference is what mode of sending was used.  From an iphoneforums post:

    Green = Sent thru SMS.

    Blue = Sent thru iMessage (i.e. the internet, which doesn’t count against your SMS usage).

    Which means it is possible for both people to have iMessage but because
    there was no internet connection to use, it will fall back to SMS. 

  20. you can, in settings, specify imessage on and send as sms off, then it will only send, charge free, imessages, but I assume they will not go thru if send as sms is off, as there is no backup way to send them, but since I pay for texts, I will only imessage. I think that is why the usually blue ones go green, if send as sms is on and imessage is not available, it will go thru but you will be charged if you pay per text

  21. What i like about iMessage is that I can receive texts thru my metal roof, as it uses the internet and not my cellular network.  

  22. iMessage will automatically default to iMessage if the iPhone detects iMessage coming from what ever iPhone you are say that 10 times really fast

  23. I used to have an iphone, but recently switched to an Android phone. My friend still has her iphone, and when we text, she says the bubble is still blue. I totally wiped my iphone clean and her texts are coming in on my new phone now. I thought the blue bubble was exclusive to imessages with other iphone users with ios5, so why would the texts on her phone still show as blue?

    • Its not your android it your friend… They need to Go into your contact listing> click edit your information) > change your mobile device from iPhone to mobile > click ‘done’ and now it should recognize your phone as a wannabe phone and text you…

      The surprising thing is that it hasn’t cleared itself as when iPhone friend gets repeated bounces thru iPhone and repeated incoming from you via text it should flag your info to default to text… I think if your contact info is altered in any way that it may have to repeat the cycle but should still drop back to text after a few days

  24. I have a iPhone (with IOS5). My friend has a iPhone (with IOS5). Both Phone have iMessage.
    So why does it sometimes show that my message will be sent as a text and not as an iMessage? It’s like its got a mind of its own!
    IMO, it should have a seperate App for sending iMessage only. The BBM way.

    • It’s because one of your Internet conductivity failed… It drops back to txt should oth of you not have Internet for whatever reason. If you watch it will go out ‘blue’ (note caveat below) and then turn green after a few moments due to you not having Internet – longer if it goes out and your friend doesn’t have Internet… The caveat, after several messages failing thru iPhone, normally it will automatically drop back to txt for some time ….

  25. can I receive messages/texts sent to me from a regular cellphone that doesn’t have iMessage (like Nokia or SonyEricsson)? and will they incur charges (we’re in Canada and I’m assuming iMessage is based in the US)

    • Yes to texting to any phone. Yes to occurring charges per your rate plan. No to iPhone being located in USA… iMesage is located in the phone and on the Internet… I spend time in both US and Canada so I have a Canadian network iPhone and can use iMessage in both countries IF I have an Internet connection … Fwiiw I can also txt in both countries and due to my rate plan I only get charged if I exceed my US limit (in my case I think it’s 100 outgoing free/month while in the US — I’ve never hit it as I am not chatty on txt)

  26. It’s all well and good this concept of smart switching, yet I would sometime prefer to have an easy choice of manual switching in the app without having to go to the setting every time. Here’s the case: my wife and I both have an iPhone with iOS5.1 on it, with iMessage switched on and it’s ok but the problem is when she travels abroad for work (no data roaming) and every message I send gets sent as iMessage but she doesn’t get it until in a vicinity of a wifi network. Thus sometime very late. Certainly a room for improvement in the app. :-)

    • So, when she is abroad go into her contact info and change her iPhone to mobile… Should solve the problem… When she is state side if u want her to be an iMessage user you’ll have to switch her back…

  27. It is also possible that your friend/partner may have the iMessage turned off, I found this out due to my sister Gavin an iPhone and myself unable to send iMessages to her, so check in your settings and make sure iMessage is turned on if that’s what you want to use

  28. My issue is strange. My sister and I both have the iPhone 4S. We can iMessage other iPhone users, but we can only text each other. We’re both running 5.1.1, have iMessage on, and have our devices listed as iPhones. How can we fix this issue?

  29. my daughter and i both have iphones and have always sent imessages back and forth. Starting yesterday my messages to her are going as text messages and i don’t know how to fix it. Messages to other iphone users are going through fine as imessages so i know my setting are right.

  30. I have changed my caller ID to show my number & not my email in iMessage but it’s still showing my email to everyone I iMessage with. Why is this?? It’s very annoying

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