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Sometimes when an iMessage comes in and I switch to the Messages app, the conversation doesn't contain the new message.

I know the message was received because an alert banner popped up with the correct message text, but it doesn't show up in Messages. It also doesn't seem to be present in Notification Center, despite being set to show 5 recent items.

Sometimes if I quit and reopen Messages it will refresh the conversation with the new message included, but sometimes not. And they still don't show up in Notification Center.

Is there any reliable way to force Messages to refresh or reload the current conversation? Or make it receive messages reliably in the first place?

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Just chiming in to say that I've noticed this phenomenon too, and have resorted to the same irregularly effective methods to counter it. Messages in general seems poor at archiving messages. I've also seen it ditch entire conversations. iChat was far more reliable. –  D Raymond Feb 16 '13 at 23:06
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4 Answers

Scroll to the top of the conversation and keep scrolling beyond and it will trigger a refresh.

Doing this attempts to reload the conversation history and in the process loads any new messages at the bottom when you scroll back down.

Messages is very buggy from my use as messages take time to appear on all my devices and sometimes one device shows the proper order and the other device doesn't. You can also try both you and the person who you are messaging delete the chat history on all of each others devices to completely refresh the conversation if it is only happening to one person.

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This does not work for me. Maybe you are thinking of the iOS version of Messages? –  Robert Jul 15 '13 at 16:58
    
No iOS requires you to tap a "Load Earlier Messages" button. For me at least on OSX it works when I scroll to the top. –  SteppingHat Jul 16 '13 at 1:18
    
This will load history, at least on Messages in Mountain Lion. It doesn't refresh or force a check on new messages though. –  Alex Jul 21 '13 at 6:45
    
Scrolling to the top does cause new messages to appear for me at the bottom, odd as it may sound. –  tubedogg Aug 12 '13 at 19:03
    
Yeah I have a problem where sometimes messages go out of order with yesterdays messages at the bottom when I know I have received new ones. Scrolling to the top seems to put everything back in place weirdly enough. –  SteppingHat Aug 12 '13 at 22:59
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Is there any reliable way to force Messages to refresh or reload the current conversation? Or make it receive messages reliably in the first place?

No. Messages is very buggy for many users and there is not a known fix at this time. I believe the most prominent client-side issues are resolved in Mavericks, but I am not running the it yet so perhaps not.

As far as I know, the best solution is to sign out of your account, log back in, and then restart Messages. For me, this fixes the ordering of messages (so they are sorted by timestamp) and generally keeps Messages running smoothly for a little while. However, the fix doesn't seem to last longer than a few days.

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To be honest I think this is more a synchronization issue with the datacenter than an issue with the client app itself. Catching up multiple clients to the same point isn't as simple or straight forward as it sounds. Especially when one of the clients has been offline. Given the ubiquitous nature of the complaint I would favor this being a server side glitch. Which makes it something you'll just have to wait to see fixed. Same goes for if it's a client issue anyway, since Messages isn't open source, any fix will come through Apple, via Software Update/App Store.

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restart it (and wait), otherwise set status offline, and online again (also wait)

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Like I said in the question: sometimes this works, sometimes not. –  Robert Mar 17 '13 at 17:07
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