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iMessage Safety

Tips and tricks for looking after your security and privacy on iMessage


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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If you own an Apple phone, tablet or computer made in the past few years then you’ll have access to iMessage. It’s the default messaging app used by hundreds of millions of people around the globe every day. It can send SMS text messages to any phone, charged as per your mobile plan or tariff, and it can also send free messages to any other iOS or OS X compatible device using your internet connection.

There are a lot of cool things you can do to stay safe on iMessage and here are four of them.

How to block unwanted calls or texts on iMessage

You may not be aware that you can block unwanted contacts. This can be incredibly useful should you unfortunately find yourself subjected to bullying or unwanted calls, messages or facetime video chats.

There are a few different ways to block these unwanted contacts. Please note these instructions are for those running iOS 7/8/9 and 10.

Blocking a recent call

  • Go into the main phone app (the green and white telephone icon)
  • Click into ‘recents’ on the bottom row of icons
  • Click the “i” next to the call in question
  • Scroll down to the bottom and click “block this caller”

Blocking someone who has text you

  • Open the text message or iMessage on your phone
  • Click the button in the upper right corner. This will say “details” in iOS 9 and be a circle with the letter i on iOS 10.
  • In iOS 9 Click the “i” on the far right side of the phone number or contact.
    (iOS 10) - Tap on the contact. It will either be the persons name or their phone number.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and select “block this caller”. Note this will also block them calling you.

Once you have added them to the blocked contacts you will no longer receive their calls or messages to your phone. Note that this will only block them from calling you, messaging you or sending Facetime calls to you from now on. It will not block them from contacting you on other messaging apps (Viber, WhatsApp) if you have already shared your phone number. The block will only exist on apple phones so if you do change phones bear this in mind. Also, you can undo blocking someone by going into Settings -> Phone -> Blocked.

How to turn on/off read receipts

For a few years now Apple have allowed users to send “read receipts” when using the messages app. Read receipts are the tiny little notices below messages that allow users to see if people have received or seen the text message they have just sent. They’re similar to the “seen” icon that appears on Facebook Messenger when the recipient has read your message.

A lot of the time this is really useful as not everyone replies to every message but you still want to know if they got the information. Other times, you’d like a little more privacy and would rather be able disable this feature.

Read receipts are turned off by default on brand new devices but can be turned on (or indeed off if you change your mind) by following these simple steps.

  • Open ‘Settings’
  • Then go into ‘Messages’
  • Then simply toggle ‘Send Read Receipts’.

This will only enable/disable read receipts for the default messaging app so for other applications check our their help centres.

How to use group messages

You can easily send the same message to a few people on iMessage. This is great for when you want to start a group conversation with a few friends. It’s really easy to get started.

  • Open the ‘Messages’ app
  • Compose a new message
  • Click the plus icon and select the first person to add
  • Then repeat this until you have added everyone

That’s it. Once you start typing everyone in that group will get the messages, pictures and videos.

You can change the settings of the group conversation too. On iOS 8/9 if you click on the ‘details’ button on the upper right, on iOS 10 this is a circle with an i inside it:

  • Add or remove people to the conversation
  • Send your location
  • Mute the conversation if it’s sending too many notifications
  • See all pictures or videos sent so far
  • Leave the conversation

Sending or sharing your location

One really cool feature is that you can send your location to someone via iMessage. This can be useful if you are trying to meet a friend or family member but are unsure where you are in relation to them.

It should also be said that this feature is very powerful and you should only use it with people you know and trust. First, you need to change your settings before you can start sharing your location. Visit Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services and toggle on ‘Share My Location’.

There are two different ways to send your location. You can send someone a map of where you are at that current moment. The map is a once off and will not update if you move away. To send your current location from inside a message just click on Details/(I) (on iOS 10 it's a circle with an i inside) -> Send my location.

The second option is ‘share my location’. This one is a lot more intrusive as it will provide the other person with a constant lock on where your phone is using the GPS. When you select it, you will be provided the option to share your location for one hour, until the end of the day or indefinitely. Understandably this is a big thing to do so consider it carefully. If you want to do this, select Details -> Share my location and then select the duration of the share.

If you change your mind you can always go back into the details tab and select “stop sharing my location” to take away their ability to see your location.

Where to get more help

If you need more help with iMessage, you can visit the Apple iMessage support page for more information.

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Published February 4th, 2015
Last updated February 3rd, 2017
Tags imessage online safety safer internet day
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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