Q: My family is having some issues with iMessage. A couple of months ago I turned off the iMessage option on my iPhone because my carrier gave me an unlimited SMS plan and overall, my carrier’s SMS service seems to be more reliable than what I’ve experienced with iMessage. I basically chose the reliability of SMS over the convenience of receiving iMessages on both my iPhone and MacBook.
For some reason though, it now seems that whenever I have my MacBook open, SMS messages sent from my wife and daughter no longer come to my phone but have restarted coming to my MacBook. We’ve made sure they are sending the SMS to my phone number instead of my iCloud address and also noted that the message bubble color is green rather than blue.
It may just be coincidence but I didn’t start having this problem until I updated to iOS 6.1 last week. Could there be something I missed or inadvertently changed during the setup procedure?
A: When sending a text message from the Messages app on an iPhone, the app first checks with Apple’s servers to see if the phone number is registered to receive iMessages. If so, then the message is sent as an iMessage, otherwise it is sent out as a normal text message. Even if the phone number is registered for iMessage, if a message cannot be delivered via iMessage, such as if the receiving device is turned off, then the Messages app will normally fall back to sending text messages.
iOS 6.0 and OS X 10.8.2 introduced the ability to receive iMessages addressed to a phone number on non-iPhone devices, such as the iPad, iPod touch and Mac. This is handled by logging into iMessages on your iPhone using your Apple ID, at which point your phone number is added to your profile and becomes available on your other devices.
Note that turning iMessages OFF on your iPhone does not remove your phone number from other devices that have already been configured for it. In fact, this doesn’t even happen when signing out of your Apple ID in the Messages settings on your iPhone. It seems the only way to remove a phone number from your iMessage profile is to register it to a different Apple ID.
However, while it will remain part of your iMessage profile, you can easily disable it on your Mac by going into your Messages settings and deselecting it. The same applies to an iPad or iPod touch that may be using the same iMessage account.
As long as iMessage is switched off on your iPhone and there are no other devices using your phone number, messages from other iOS device users should always be sent as text messages. Note, however, that since your phone number is still registered for iMessage.