How to set up iMessages on your Mac in 2021

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Even if you don’t care much about the security and encryption provided by iMessage, you might still want to set it up on your Mac because viewing all your texts and responding without having to stop your work and pick up your phone is a blessing. Plus, you can message using either your email or your phone number, which can be very convenient if you want to separate close friends and people who don’t know your number.

Let’s see how to set up iMessage on your Mac and troubleshoot any issues that might come up. Psst! We’ve encountered several of them as we set up our iMessage, and they all were resolved in mere seconds, so read on.

How to set up iMessage on Mac

The setup for iMessage on Mac is very simple and should take you just a few moments. Here are the steps you need to take to enable iMessage on Mac:

  1. Click on the Messages app icon in your Dock.
  2. Go to Messages > Preferences > iMessage.
  3. Make sure you have the Apple ID here that you want.
  4. Check Enable Messages in iCloud.
  5. enable messages in icloud

  6. Select how you want to be reached (phone number, email).
  7. Check Send read receipts if you want that feature enabled.
  8. Select if you want to start new conversations from your phone number or email.
  9. Click Sync Now.

If iMessage and iCloud sync is on in your iPhone, your messages should begin to sync up:

downloading messages from icloud

On your phone, you will get a notification that your Apple ID and phone number are being used for iMessage on a new Mac.

That’s it, you’ve now set up messaging on Mac!

Now that you’ve tasted how easy and useful it is to access texts on your desktop, how about taking this a bit further? You can actually sync up your other messengers to your computer.

IM+ is just the app for the task. This aggregator of instant messages from various messaging platforms that you use — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Skype, Zoom, Gmail, and even Slack, plus many more — can help make your life so much easier.

im plus macos

No more logging in to a dozen accounts to check if anybody messaged you. No more missed incoming notes just because you haven’t opened that service in months. Connect your various accounts, add tags, and color code your connected messaging platforms for easier management — don’t miss another message with IM+.

How to set up Messages in iCloud in macOS

To use iMessage on your Mac, you need to sync Messages to iCloud. This can be done following the steps in the previous section of the article.

You can use your Mac to recheck if your Messages are synced. To do that, open Messages > Preferences > iMessage. See if the Apple ID signed in is the one you want and check Enable Messages in iCloud.

To view if your messages were indeed backed up to iCloud, go to icloud.com and log in with your Apple ID. Click Account Settings and look for a green section in your storage bar:

set up messages in icloud

You can also see this storage graph in your Mac’s settings:

  1. Open Apple menu in the top left corner of your Menu bar.
  2. Click System Preferences… in the drop down menu.
  3. Click on Apple ID icon.
  4. Open iCloud tab and view the graph.

System Preferences icloud

Explore all iMessage for Mac features

Now that you know how to connect iMessage to Mac, let’s take a look at all the features you can use.

First off, you can hide alerts for individual conversations. Click on the thread you want to mute, find the i icon in the top right corner of the window and click on it. Check Hide Alerts option in the pop-up menu.

You can also mute or delete a conversation by swiping left on your trackpad:

imessage macos

And just like in your phone, you can react to incoming messages by clicking the reaction bubble next to an incoming message:

react message mac

Set up iCloud message sharing on your iPhone or iPad

While you now know how to sync iMessage to Mac, you actually need to set up iMessage sync with iCloud for it to work.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to do that:

First, on your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages and make sure the iMessage toggle is on.

Also at the top of Settings, click on your account name to open Apple ID menu, then tap iCloud and make sure Messages is toggled on.

messages to icloud sync

Connect your phone to power and the internet to allow the messages to sync.

In the iPadOS 14.6 the steps are identical to the iOS 14.6, so you can repeat the steps above for your iPad.

If you open Messages on your phone after following this guide, you’ll likely see Uploading Messages to iCloud banner at the bottom since you’ve just enabled the iCloud sync and the messages need to be uploaded to the cloud.

Now, you don’t have to back up to cloud storage. If you want, you can back up your iPhone to your Mac.

AnyTrans is a file transfer manager that will help you move between phones or back up your iPhone seamlessly to your Mac. You can also move files from an old Android to your new iPhone or transfer from a cloud storage.

Additionally, the app helps manage iTunes and iCloud content, can schedule backups, and even back up messages from popular messaging platforms, including WhatsApp.

anytrans macos

Troubleshoot iMessage issues quickly

But even if you know the general flow of how to connect Messages to Mac, you might encounter a few mistakes. Let’s troubleshoot them with these simple fixes.

First, iMessage needs a good internet connection to work and be set up. To sync up all of your messages, especially if you have amassed a bunch of video or pic exchanges, you need your WiFi connection to be impeccable.

WiFi Explorer is an amazing scanner app that can help you monitor and analyze your connection. Just launch the app and view all available connections, click on your network name to see visual graphs and detailed info on your connection.

wifi explorer macos

If you’ve synced everything and your messages still don’t show up, restart your Mac.

Next, check if your Mac and iPhone/iPad have the latest software installed. On Mac, open the Apple menu > System Preferences… > Software Update to check for latest update availability. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

If you can’t access your messages on Mac still, check if the date and time are correct on your devices and recheck if the Apple ID you are using on both devices is the same. Additionally, see if the phone number and email address in your Messages are the same on both devices — to do that, open Messages from your Dock, then go to Messages > Preferences > iMessage. On your phone, go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive.

Remember that for iMessage to work, you need to toggle that option on your phone as well. Go to Settings > Messages and toggle iMessage on. You also need to have iCloud sync on, find it in Settings > Apple ID (your account name at the top) and see that Messages is toggled on.

Sometimes things don’t sync up even if you’ve tried everything above. One simple solution is to disable and enable again your Apple ID account in Messages on Mac. This is how to get messages on Mac even if they haven’t synced up after your set up:

  1. Open Messages on your Mac.
  2. Click on Messages in the Menu bar and go to Preferences…
  3. Open iMessage tab.
  4. Uncheck Enable Messages in iCloud and check it back on.

Alternatively, you can also try to hit the Sync Now button in the iMessage tab, but it did not work for us. Above Sync Now, you have the Sign Out button to help sign you out of your Apple ID. You can try using that to sign out of your Apple ID and then sign back in to iron out any kinks in your setup.

Conclusion

Congrats on learning how to install iMessage on Mac! Now you know how to sync your messages to Mac and manage your conversations, reply and react to the texts you get, and even back up messages to your Mac using third party apps like AnyTrans.

In addition to iMessage, you can also aggregate messages from other mediums, like Slack, LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and many others, with the help of the handy IM+ app.

Since to use iMessage, as well as other messengers, you need a good connection, WiFi Explorer can become an invaluable tool to analyze and monitor your connection.

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