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iMessage not syncing on Mac

5 min read

If you use Apple’s native iMessage app, your messages can easily travel across devices. Send from iPhone, open on Mac — no problem. Unless there’s a syncing issue. Very often, users report the problem of Messages not syncing on Mac after updating their operating system. In this article, we explain the reasons behind iMessage not updating on Mac, and give you a step-by-step guide on how to resolve this annoying issue. 

Note: iMessage was the official name of Apple’s messaging service from its launch in 2011 until the major revamp in 2020 — it’s when the Messages app arrived. Today, iMessage is a feature inside Messages, denoting the type of messages that can be sent from one Apple device to another. Both names are widely used and often interchangeable (you’ll even come across “iMessages,”) so please don’t be confused about different names we use in the article. 

Why are my iMessages not syncing between iPhone and Mac?

So you open your Messages app on Mac and automatically reach for the recent thread. Then, oops, it’s a wrong thread — probably some old one. You go back to your iPhone or iPad and find the thread you were looking for. What’s happening? Text messages not showing up on Mac means they’ve stopped syncing from your iOS device. 

Why are Messages on Mac not syncing? There might be numerous reasons: 

  • Your settings are off after an iOS update
  • The email address you use with iMessage is deactivated
  • You have poor internet connection
  • You use the wrong Apple ID. 

Luckily, there’s a solution for each of them. 

How to fix iMessage not syncing  

Most of the syncing issues that relate to iMessage can be fixed easily. You might need to toggle the feature off and on or learn how to refresh Messages on Mac after your internet connection has improved. So let’s start with the fastest one. 

Sign out of iMessages and retry 

Try signing out of iMessage on your iPhone and Mac. Then, sign back in and check if your messages sync from iPhone to Mac. You can also try sending a new message. 

Here’s how to sign out of iMessages on an iOS device: 

  1. Open Settings and scroll down to Messages
  2. Tap Messages and disable iMessage. 

Here’s how to sign out of iMessages on a Mac: 

  1. Open Messages > Preferences 
  2. Go to the iMessage tab and click Sign Out. 

sign out imessages on mac

Sync messages manually 

Find a solution that will never let you down. For example, you can use a content transferring app like AnyTrans for iOS to sync your messages across devices — either all of them or just the certain ones. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Open AnyTrans for iOS on your Mac via Setapp 
  2. Connect your iOS device to Mac using a cable
  3. Once your phone contents show up in AnyTrans, choose Messages 
  4. Select the messages you want to move from iPhone/iPad to Mac 
  5. Click To Mac. 

sync imessages on mac

Check your internet connection

Unlike the old good SMS, iMessages require stable internet connection to be delivered from one device to another. It never hurts to toggle Wi-Fi off and on or run a speed check to make sure the internet connection is fine. If it seems like you’re connected to Wi-Fi but the connection is sporadic or unstable, run a scan with WiFi Explorer: 

  1. Open WiFi Explorer on your Mac via Setapp 
  2. Find your network name on the list and click on it 
  3. Go to Network Details and check Signal Quality 
  4. It might also be useful to check Channel — just to ensure you’re not sharing channel with too many other networks. 

wifi explorer internet

Check your email address

You need to use Apple ID with your iMessages to be able to send and receive messages across devices. There’s an email address you can be reached at for messages assigned to your account — the one that is tied to your Apple ID. 

It might happen that your iMessage lost the connection to your Apple ID and email address, due to a recent iOS update. So here it is — the reason for iPhone messages not syncing with Mac. Make sure it doesn’t happen by checking your email in iMessage. 

On your iOS device: 

  1. Open Settings and scroll down to Messages 
  2. Tap Messages 
  3. Go to Send & Receive and check if your email address is listed there. 

On your Mac: 

  1. Open Messages > Preferences 
  2. Open the iMessage tab 
  3. Check if the right email address is listed under “You can be reached for messages at.” 

imessage disconnect

Enable iMessages in your iCloud 

Did you know you can sync your messages to iCloud, just like you sync photos and documents? This is a surefire way to prevent losing messages on one of your Apple devices, since iCloud will make them accessible anywhere via your online account. 

Here’s how to enable iMessages in your iCloud from iPhone: 

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap your account name 
  3. Go to iCloud 
  4. Toggle on Messages. 

You can also enable iCloud syncing for Messages from your Mac: 

  1. Open Messages > Preferences 
  2. Go to the iMessage tab 
  3. Check the box next to “Enable Messages in iCloud.” 

Confirm phone number with Apple ID

With iMessage, you can be reached at your email address, as well as your phone number. Provided your phone number is no longer tied to your iMessage for whatever reason, you might experience the issue of messages not syncing on Mac. Here’s how to act on this: 

  1. On your iOS device, open Settings 
  2. Tap Messages > Send & Receive 
  3. If your phone number is listed but not selected, make sure you select it now
  4. On your Mac, you will see a popup asking you to confirm that you want to add the selected phone number to your iMessage. Say yes. 

confirm phone number imessage

If you don’t find your phone number among the list of options in Send & Receive, you might need to add it to your Apple ID: 

  1. Open appleid.apple.com in your browser
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID credentials 
  3. Go to Sign In and Security > Account Security 
  4. Click plus to add a trusted phone number 
  5. Verify the phone number via a text message or a call
  6. Once it’s verified, try adding the phone number to your iMessage. 

Workaround for the macOS Messages not syncing issue 

You have the right to be furious if you find Messages not syncing on Mac. This service is the primary messaging app for many iOS and Mac users. Many use it for work and business communications. This is why we recommend that you always have a backup plan.

AnyTrans for iOS can be such a plan. It will sync your messages from iPhone to Mac in no time, and you can always do it on request, without waiting for your devices to sync. The app is free for 7 days via Setapp, an app subscription for macOS and iOS. WiFi Explorer, the app we mentioned when we talked about internet connection, is part of Setapp, too. 

Other than that, we hope we answered the burning question of “why are my iMessages not syncing between iPhone and Mac?” in this guide and you found the solution you were looking for. 

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