Recently when I sent a message to an iPhone recipient, it was sent via SMS, presumably because one of us couldn't connect to iMessage. However, the strange thing is that my iPhone sent the text message to the recipient's email address, instead of their phone number:

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(I was surprised to see this actually worked because Verizon evidently relays SMS-to-email from [email protected], and when the recipient responds, it gets relayed back via SMS.)

The phone number and email address are in the correct fields in their Contacts card, but Messages chooses the email address instead of the phone number for Text Message:

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I checked other contacts, and all of them have a phone number in the Text Message field in Messages, but a few have two Text Message fields, one with a phone number and one with an email address. This is the first time I have seen Messages send via email. Does anyone know of a fix?

3 Answers 3


The sender needs to attach their number to their iMessage "Send & Receive" list.

On the iPhone they can go to Settings -> Messages -> Send And Receive -> Add iPhone phone number along with their Apple ID email.

Then make sure the phone number has a check mark next to it.

Then try texting them again and see if it emails them the message, it shouldn't.


I don’t think messages is doing any email sending, the address you see is the AppleID address. This is how iMessage works on devices without phone numbers (Macs, iPads)

At the same time, messages and iMessage have no way of knowing what a telco does after a SMS is sent, so even if that SMS-email relaying is happening, imessage/messages has no way of knowing about it, or influencing it.

  • The recipient received the message through their email, and when they replied, it was sent back to me as SMS. Either Verizon or Apple is acting as an intermediary, and I have to assume Verizon because the email was sent from my phone numner @vzwpix.com.
    – wst
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 16:50
  • Odd, this must be a specific combination of SP, contract, SIM, phone and software versions. Basically, when an SMS text message is sent, the parts of iOS, the modem and the radio interface are all that the system on the client side has access to. Anything beyond that would be service provider territory. It's also pretty risky as it makes for easier interception of text messages which are often used for MFA authentication. Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 16:53

You could remove the email address from your contacts, or you could just wait until the message gets sent.

  • Melvin's answer (the more upvoted approach) might be overly optimistic about what changes you can get other people to make to their settings. This downvoted approach ended up being the only option I found that I could implement. My upvote only resurrects it a little, but it's worth considering even if votes put it in the hole.
    – Kay V
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 21:57

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