iMessage Tip: Turn on Read Receipts

If you're using an iPhone running iOS 5 or later, you'll notice that some of your text message bubbles appear blue instead of green. That's because when you message a fellow iPhone or iPad user, that text is actually sent via Apple's iMessage service. So what's the difference?

iMessages are actually send over your phone's data connection rather than your carrier's SMS service, meaning those iMessages don't count towards your text message limit (if you have one). In addition iMessage allows you to see when the other person is typing with an ellipses, provides a delivered receipt when your message has successfully gone through, and if it's turned on, will tell you when that person has actually Read that message. Pretty useful stuff.


Since iMessage is tied to an email address, you can also iMessage from an iPad and even a Mac computer. The integration with those devices are a little hit-and-miss, but will be rectified once iOS 6 comes out and unifies your phone number and email accounts in iMessage.

What most people don't realize or choose not to enable are those Read Receipts. They're turned off by default, but others choose to leave it off for privacy reasons; i.e. they don't want other people knowing if they've actually seen their message or not. Personally, I turn Read Receipts on for a few reasons:

  • I want people to know I've seen their message, even if I haven't responded yet.
  • Ideally I would like others to turn on Read Receipts as well
  • It gives me confidence that an important message has been seen

Whether you turn these on or not, you should at least be aware they exist and learn how to adjust your preference. Below is a short video on how to turn Read Receipts on or off. If you have any questions leave a comment below!