How to Fix the “Waiting for Activation” iMessage Error

Since the launch of iOS 5, Apple has supported texting and IMs via iMessage. Sending an iMessage is a lot like sending a text message, except that it uses the phone’s Internet data connection (or Wi-Fi) to send the message. For people who are on limited text messaging plans, this is a great way to keep that message count low. The setup is supposed to be automatic; however, people have been complaining ever since it launched about receiving a “Waiting for Activation” error from iMessage.

Let’s cover a few steps to try to resolve this conflict.

Disable and Re-Enabled iMessage

Open the Settings app on the iOS device and choose Messages.

iMessage

iOS Messages Menu inside Settings

Toggle the switch next to iMessage to the OFF position. Wait at least 24 hours.

iMessage

Message settings with iMessage turned OFF

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Follow these same steps to turn iMessage back on.

Restore the iPhone from the Computer and iTunes

Plugging in the iPhone to the computer should automatically launch iTunes. If it does not, make sure iTunes is running.

Select the iPhone from the menu on the left, and choose the Summary tab.

Then select Restore iPhone.

iMessage

Restore iPhone button (Image Courtesy of Apple)

iTunes will then prompt the user to make sure the restore is okay to perform, and warn the user that all data will be lost. Click Restore to continue.

iMessage

Click Restore to continue the restore process. (Image courtesy of Apple)

Once completed, the phone will need to perform the initial setup again. As long as the user’s data was backed up to the iCloud of the computer, restoring should be pretty straightforward with no loss of data. The restore will download the latest firmware, which has resolved the issue for many of the people suffering from the problem.

Variation of the iPhone Restore

If the above step does not solve the problem, some suggest that the user attempt the restore, but not log into iTunes or iCloud.

After restoring the phone, the phone will ask the user to log into iTunes. Click the skip button.

The phone will then ask the user to log into iCloud. Also click the skip button.

Verify that iMessage works by sending an iMessage to someone with an iOS device (preferably a phone).

If the message is sent and there is no iMessage activation error, then connect the phone to an iTunes account by choosing iTunes & App Stores from the Settings app.

iMessage

iTunes & App Stores in Settings app.

Then there will be an option to Sign In. Click that and follow the directions.

Next, if the user chooses to, select iCloud and perform the same procedure to Sign In.

iMessage

iCloud settings in the Settings app.

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If neither of these solutions solves the problem, be sure to check out this thread on the Apple Support Communities for more tips. Good luck!

Comments

  1. Michael says

    Good article Chad. I support about 20 iPhones in my work environment, and this is such an annoying issue from time to time. Every single time, the answer has been that we’ve had to have the carrier “reset” their settings on their end, and resubmit the phone information (IMEI/ESN, etc) to Apple. They can do it quickly, and usually within 20 minutes or so and a power-cycle, iMessage is working fine. Incredibly frustrating process though before we finally figured it out!

  2. David Weisinger says

    Frustrating here too … to complicate it bit, I’m living in Shanghai and using China Unicom. Been iMessaging for >1 year. Took the iPhone 5 to US a few weeks back and got an ATT SIM card. iMessage was no problem. Then back to China and local SIM. No iMessage. Followed all the advice, except for a total restore. (I updated IOS to 6.1.4 and was encouraged with it said “you can be reached on 3 addresses …), But, still waiting on activation. So from above, I guess I have to try to talk to local network provider (my English is no gooda) and ask for a reset. Unless someone has better idea ! thanks But wait, just realized that I have tried to connect on WiFi so why would I need to contact Network provider?

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