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How to Sync iMessages Across iOS and OS X

One of the great features that was introduced with OS X Mountain Lion last year was the inclusion of the Messages app, which allows users to have their iMessages from their iOS devices synced to their Mac. That way they can chat with other iMessage users without being subjected to just their iPhone.

Messages makes its way back in OS X Mavericks, and if you’re like me and waited until Mavericks before upgrading from OS X Lion, this is the first time that you’re getting access to iMessage on the Mac. Setting it up and getting iMessages to sync can be a little tricky, so we’ll show how to do that in this quick guide. Hopefully you’ll be on your way to cross-platform iMessaging in no time.

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Start with Your iPhone or iPad

iMessage should sync up with all of your Apple devices together as long as all of them are signed in under the same Apple ID, but surprisingly, it doesn’t work that smoothly sometimes. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. 2013-11-13 15.17.32Open up the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Messages.
  3. Tap on Send & Receive.
  4. Make sure your email address shows up at the top next to Apple ID. If not, tap on this and sign in with your Apple ID.
  5. Also, make sure your phone number is selected under the section titled Start New Conversations From.

Repeat these four steps on all of your other iOS devices. This will allow you to send and receive iMessages not just between your iPhone and Mac, but you’ll be able to add in an iPad you might have lying around as well.

Sync iMessages with Your Mac

Screenshot 2013-11-13 15.19.45

The steps for setting up iMessage on your Mac is similar to that of iOS, except it’s simply a different user interface:

  1. Open up the Messages app.
  2. Click on Messages in the menubar in the top-left corner and then select Preferences (or just hit Cmd + comma on your keyboard).
  3. Next, click on the Accounts tab and you should see your Apple ID email address in the sidebar. If not, click on the + sign at the bottom and add your Apple ID.
  4. Once added, click on it and you’ll see some similar settings that you did on your iOS device. Simply make sure that Enable this account is checked, along with your phone number further below.
  5. At the bottom of the Preferences pane, make sure your phone number is selected from the dropdown menu under Start new conversations from.

After that’s set up, you should be good to go, and any iMessages you receive on your iOS device will also show up on your Mac, and vice versa. If you ever have problems with iMessages syncing, simply log out of iMessage on all of your Apple devices and log back in; this is a quick fix and it works most of the time when dealing with iMessage syncing problems.

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6 Comments

  1. Georgie

    01/18/2014 at 1:53 pm

    Do you know how to import old iMessages conversations (from an iPhone) onto a Mac? New messages sync, but I can’t access past conversations on my Mac.

    Reply

  2. Kyle Brady

    01/25/2014 at 9:39 am

    This definitely seems like it fixed my issue, thanks! I wasn’t even seeing the “Start Conversations From” menu area until I disabled and reactivated iMessage.

    Reply

  3. Srujan Vishwanath

    10/04/2014 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you! With your very easy to understand and detailed description, I could easily sync iMessage between my iPhone and Mac.

    Reply

  4. Marilyn Stempkowski

    06/17/2015 at 5:33 am

    Thank you for the info above. Is it possible to have two email addresses and two phone numbers on the same apple id? My husband and I share one apple id so our calendar, music, photos, etc. all show up on all our devices. We prefer to keep only one apple id if possible. It used to work that way but no longer does and we cannot figure out how to fix it. Any advice is appreciated.

    Reply

  5. David Carnell

    01/27/2016 at 2:45 pm

    Has not worked – followed instructions several times (logged out iMessage on all devices & then logged in again) but there are messages on my iPhone that do not appear on the Mac air. When I try to message a contact on the Mac that I have been messaging on my iPhone the number comes up red and says it is not registered with iMessage???
    Very frustrating

    Reply

  6. Cindy

    01/27/2016 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I spent 2 hrs chatting with Apple support to have my texts forwarded from iPhone to my macbook pro and vice versa. Eventually, Apple support told me I would need to restart my computer which ended our chat. They emailed me an Apple support page to continue once I had my computer restarted. At this point I realized that not only were my devices not “talking to each other”, I also couldn’t text certain people from my mac, although I could text them from my iPhone. I found your website through a Google search. Turns out that I was not signed into my Apple ID in settings under Messages. As soon as I signed in, both of my problems were solved.

    Reply

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