How do I turn it off?

When I sent to Settings, Messages and turned off iMessages. But then I am unable to SMS people with iPhones.

Error dialog pops up:

iMessage needs to be enabled to send this message.

I don't want to fix iMessage. I don't want to use it. I have unlimited SMS so don't see the point. Is this possible?


6 Answers 6


Turn off iMessage by going to Settings>Messages and switching off iMessage.

Then make sure "MMS Messagging" is turned on.

For more information check here:

Deregister iMessage on your iPhone

If you still have your iPhone, you can deregister iMessage with these steps:

  1. If you transferred your SIM card from your iPhone to a non-Apple phone, put it back in your iPhone.

  2. Make sure that you're connected to your cellular data network.

  3. Tap Settings > Messages and turn off iMessage.

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  • This is already what I did. Send as SMS is not visible when you iMessage is off.
    – JL Peyret
    Jun 14, 2018 at 0:26
  • @JLPeyret Updated answer. Is MMS Messaging on? Jun 14, 2018 at 0:28
  • 1
    I ended up going to selfsolve.apple.com/deregister-imessage , deregistering my phone, power it off and off. Still left a problem with the iPhone using person I was texting. Text message was appearing elsewhere, but not with her phone, still had iMessage. Deleted the whole message thread for the person and now I have Text message.
    – JL Peyret
    Jun 14, 2018 at 0:29
  • So is everything fixed? If so please add your solution as an answer. Jun 14, 2018 at 0:30
  • 2
    It doesn't have anything to do with erasing the message history, particularly, but if you were before sending messages to a person's iMessage address, you're not going to be doing that any more, and that message thread will die. All you have to do is start a new thread sending messages to the contact's phone number. Don't know why people have such a problem with this. Sep 16, 2018 at 17:10

My guess is that while iMessage is turned off on your phone, you are trying to send SMS to iMessages addresses (which ca be either mail addresses or phone numbers). If you previously sent iMessages to contacts using mail address for their iMessage account this could explain the error message you got.

Can you try the following?

  • When you're about to send a message to a contact that triggers an error, click his name (at the top of the message window) and check which identifier is used (mail or phone number). If it is not a phone number then start a new conversation using it.

You can start a new conversation by clicking the "new Message" button at the top right corner. Then, type your friend's name and click the one with the phone number.


Here is the latest page to deregister:



I switch between iMessage and straight MMS/SMS frequently. I was surprised when my iPhone 6 (IOS 12.3.1) would not send a message but instead gave the error above. Going to the apple site here (https://selfsolve.apple.com/deregister-imessage/), I came across an additional step which I have not had to do before. Even with iMessage off in settings, I was still getting the error message, "iMessage needs to be enabled to send this message." I don't know if this is new for IOS 12, but once I turned off FaceTime according to the instructions in the link above, then my message app let me send straight SMS to a contact on which I had previously been getting the error.


If you're using Data most of the time, I suggest turning off data for iMessages in cellular settings. This will send them as regular messages given other settings in JBis's answer are in place. This might require additional step in previously "Blue" threads which is: Hold the message and tap "send as text message."

This method doesn't delete previous threads and you can continue a blue green combo thread given the recipient is a phone number.


How do I turn it off? ... I don't want to use it. I have unlimited SMS so don't see the point.

iMessage IS the SMS app. If you turn it off, you also turn off SMS. If you only want to message people via SMS then use their phone number and not their email as the message destination. These messages will appear in green, messages in blue are via apple ID.

An iMessage text will cost nothing so your reason for not wanting to use iMessage is unclear. The phone will work out for itself the most efficient way to send a text - SMS, iMessage over mobile data, iMessage over wifi. Unlikely the other end will care.

  • iMessage is not SMS. The app itself can use std SMS or iMessage. and my choice to avoid iMessage is entirely my own preference, thank you very much.
    – JL Peyret
    Jun 14, 2018 at 0:52

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