When I'm out of the country and don't have wifi or data and I want to send a text message to another iPhone back in the UK, it won't let me send a standard text message . It wants me to send an iMessage as it recognizes I'm sending to another iPhone , but I do not have any data allowance or wifi so it won't let me send an iMessage anyway, and I can't find a way for forcing it to send a text SMS message.

I've looked in settings and turned off my iMessage, and the option to send text SMS only is not there anymore. I used to be able to do this before iOS 10. Is there a way I can send a standard text?

9 Answers 9


Go to settings and turn off iMessage. Send your message. (Optional) go back to settings and turn iMessage back on.

I just verified that this works in iOS 10.

  • That is awfully complicated, check the answer from Andy, it works while sending / as long as its not delivered. Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 10:54

A message from Apple Support Chat:

I checked with a few resources on this and it seems that the feature is no longer available in iOS 10 to be able to chose how to send a message. We would still have the option to turn on Send as SMS which will automatically send a message that wasn’t able to be delivered as an iMessage before.


You can, press and hold the unsent iMessage and a menu will pop up with the option

  • 1
    No, it doesn't work like that in iOS 10.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:42
  • 1
    @fsb it still works like this for undelivered messages. Once it comes as delivered this option disappears Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 4:45
  • I can attest that it doesn’t always work in iOS 12. Failed texts to my wife would not show up in the thread. All you get is a pop up error and the message remains in the text box where you compose the message.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 0:17

On iOS 13.0: enable „send as SMS“ in Settings / Messages. Then send a message to your party by pressing the blue send arrow.

  • If Apple automagically seems to know that party has an iPhone, it will send it as iMessage (blue bubble). Immediately after having sent, tap and hold the blue bubble and chose „send as SMS“. The text will be re-sent as SMS and bubble changes to green.

    The send arrow will change to green, so the next messages will be sent as SMS.

  • if Apple thinks party has no iPhone, it will send the text as SMS by default (green bubble)


It's still possible, but you have to send message to phone number instead apple ID (like email address). After enabling Send as SMS in Settings -> Messages of course.

It works exactly how it used to work in iOS 9, but crucial is sending message to phone number.

Photo attached below

  • 2
    This did not work for me with iOS 10.1.1. It recognized the phone number and sent a blue iMessage. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 20:50
  • @MichaelTsai until the message is delivered You still can press and hold on message and send it as text message. Just checked it and it works.
    – Kuba F.
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 8:04
  • Thanks, but the issue for me is that messages that it says are delivered are not. So I need to resend messages that it thinks were delivered as SMS. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 16:19
  • Yes. @MichaelTsai is right. If the person you’re sending to uses iMessage on their computer, it will be marked as delivered even though the person’s phone did not receive it. That’s what was happening to me when a friend who we were meeting in Mexico was texting me. She thought I was getting the messages because my work computer is always on. I’m sure it received the message just fine, however I never got it here in Mexico.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 0:10
  • In iOS 12, even if you send to a phone number, the message will not (always) appear in the thread. All you get is a pop up error stating you have to turn iMessage on. And that error happens whether iMessage is on or off. However, it seems in some cases, the message will convert to SMS, as it did with the iMessage group thread with my parents. I cannot explain why that message converted, but texts to my wife wouldn’t.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 0:14

Note you can also turn off cellular data (and Wi-Fi) before sending a text and the OS will send using SMS (assuming you have a phone signal) and turn it back on afterwards.

It's a bit annoying if you have to do it a lot but turning on and off iMessage is more annoying as it has to reactivate each time you want to turn it back on.


You can go in Settings > Messages > Send as SMS

  • That will only send as SMS if iMessage is not available. If iMessage is available it will not send as SMS so there's no way to 'force SMS' anymore.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:52

If you turn off iMessage off on Preferences > Messages, all messages come out as Text Messages; that is why the "Send as SMS" option is no longer present.


I just encountered this issue and I’m on ios 12.2. Sprint is my carrier. I had tried all of the solutions above before finding this page. None of them work. I spent a few hours chatting with both sprint tech support and sprint worldwide support (via a WiFi connection). After giving up trying to find a resolution to the sms issue, they informed me that my plan included free data roaming. (I hope to God that’s actually true because i know it didn’t used to be.)

Anyway, I don’t know why I could send sms messages to my parents from Mexico to the US, but not to my wife here with me in Mexico. Every time I tried to send her a text, regardless of the iMessage and Send as SMS settings, I would get an error stating:

sms error

I.e. I tried iMessage on and off and send as sms on and off.

Incidentally, even though I had no icon indicating a data connection, I was receiving sporadic connectivity such as app notifications for emails and other communications but whenever I tried to use an app, I would get an error saying I wasn’t connected to the internet, such as:

enter image description here

Also, while I was able to call my parents, every attempt to call sprint via their 888 number immediately “call failed”.

Other things I tried: I made sure that I was sending messages to my wife’s phone number and not her iCloud address. I tried changing the phone type in contacts from iPhone to mobile. I tried adding 1 in front of her number. I also tried adding + in front of the 1. I tried turning off automatic cellular network selecrion and switching networks manually (settings->cellular->network selecrion->automatic).

Finally I discovered a workaround. You can send sms messages to google voice numbers and luckily, both my wife and I have google voice numbers. I had forwarding turned off on my GV account, so I had to turn it back on in order to receive, since using the GV app requires a data connection.

For anyone who tries to look for an actual solution, instead of a work-around, please note, every time you test a solution above, you have to make sure WiFi is off. Note also that Apple disabled the option to tap and hold a message to send as sms. It’s supposed to work automatically if you enable send as sms, but that only works if you have iMessage enabled and there appears to be a bug where if you turn iMessage off and try to message someone whom you’ve imessaged before, it refuses to send an sms in some cases. It converted to sms when I messaged my parents even though the thread had been iMessages up to that point, so I’m not sure what other circumstances are needed to encounter the bug. It could have to do with the location of the recipient, whether it’s a group thread or not, or... it’s anyone’s guess.

  • Hi there! If you're free sometime, could you edit the answer for removing some side story and typos ? I just did images. Please edit the rest :)
    – anki
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 7:01

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