5 easy fixes to iMessage not working on Mac

Out of all the messengers on the market today, Apple’s own iMessage seems to be the most invisible. Its tight integration with iOS and macOS, as well as regular text messages, often make it look like a glorified SMS service rather than a standalone messaging app.

Too bad, since iMessage’s feature set is just as good as the one of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and others. The service lets you effortlessly send images and videos, react to messages, send voice notes, and much more. In addition, with all the ongoing privacy scandals, iMessage has become a trustworthy alternative (as the service is fully encrypted and ad-free) to the Facebook-owned apps.

However, sometimes iMessage does malfunction. This guide will dive into the most common iMessage problems and give you five easy fixes to resolve them.

What to do with iMessage not sending on Mac

When you start using iMessage, it might seem finicky and even fragile. There’s no dedicated iMessage app — everything is sent through the regular Messages, along with SMS-based texts.

If iMessage text fails to send, your device will use the SMS route as backup automatically. This can be confusing as iMessage is only available to people in the Apple ecosystem. So how do you know whether it’s an iMessage error on Mac or if someone you’re texting simply sports an Android phone? The only way is to ask them directly.

Another common issue with iMessage is using the same account to send and receive messages from and to different phone numbers and emails. A guaranteed way to confuse your interlocutors.

Finally, before proceeding to more involved troubleshooting, if your iMessages don’t send, check that your WiFi or LTE is on and working. Still having problems? Then give these solutions a try.

1. Enable iMessage and check your contact info

It’s possible that the iMessage functionality isn’t working because it hasn’t been enabled. Or maybe you’ve switched computers, or even updated the macOS.

To check the state of iMessage:

  1. In the menu bar, select Messages ➙ Preferences.
  2. Switch to the iMessage tab.
  3. Make sure that “Enable this account” is checked.
  4. Make sure that “Enable messages in iCloud” is checked if you have more than one Apple device.

2. Sign out of iMessage and sign back in

If you still see iMessage on MacBook not working, it’s possible that a simple reboot will manage to fix the problem. I’d say that 50% of the time when iMessage not syncing on Mac is an issue, signing out and back in seems to solve the problem.

To sign out of iMessage on Mac and then sign back in:

  1. Launch the Messages app and open Preferences from the menu bar.
  2. Switch to the iMessage tab.
  3. Click Sign Out.
  4. Enter your Apple ID email and password.
  5. Select Next.
  6. When you’re logged in, tap Sync Now.

Now try to send someone with an iPhone a message and see if the your text bubble turns blue.

3. Clear iMessage cache

When you think it’s the iMessage activation error Mac displays that prevents you from using iMessage, you can try to wipe out all the app’s user preferences to start anew. You data might be affected, so proceed with caution:

  1. From Finder, select Go ➙ Go to Folder…
  2. Navigate to the ~/Library/Messages folder.
  3. Duplicate the folder and save a backup somewhere outside of your Library.
  4. Simply delete the original Messages folder.

If you try to launch Messages now, your conversations might disappear, but any iMessage authentication error Mac was showing should be gone too.

4. Set time and date automatically

One surprising fix for iMessage has nothing to do with the messages themselves but rather with the way authentication processes work on your Mac. If you don’t let Apple set your date and time automatically, and it’s slightly off, your Mac might have problems with HTTPS requests, cookie management, and even time-sensitive passwords.

To set your time and date to automatic:

  1. Launch System Preferences ➙ Date & Time.
  2. Check “Set date and time automatically”.

This should resolve any Mac-to-Messages syncing issues going on.

5. Lock and unlock your keychain

In rare circumstances, your iMessage not syncing on Mac could be the result of a security issue in your keychain. Luckily, the solution is quite straightforward:

  1. Launch Keychain Access from your Utilities folder.
  2. Go to File ➙ Lock Keychain “login”.
  3. Enter your password if prompted.
  4. Go to File ➙ Unlock Keychain “login”.
  5. Enter the password again.

If it was a security issue responsible for the syncing error, it should now be resolved.

Bonus tip – reset iMessage in one click

Since you’ve now read till the end of this article, you have a few good ideas of how you can get iMessage working again. But going through all the steps to figure it out might seem time-consuming and tedious, so I’m going to share a secret trick that makes it possible to completely reset your Messages app and fix the iMessage not working on Mac problem without deleting your messaging history or even digging deep into your Mac’s settings.

Even better, you only need one app to do this for Messages or really any other app out there, if you have similar problems in the future — CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X is an unsung hero of Mac optimization. This powerful utility lets you reset or uninstall any app, as well as optimize any process within your Mac. To use it to reset Messages, simply:

  1. Get a free edition of CleanMyMac X.
  2. Open CleanMyMac X ➙ Preferences (or use ⌘ + ,).
  3. Switch to the Ignore List tab.
  4. Uncheck “Ignore system applications”.
  5. Navigate to the Uninstaller tab within the app’s menu (under Applications).
  6. Click on Messages and check all folders within it.
  7. Change the dropdown to Reset and then hit the Reset button.

Just like that your Messages app and the iMessage functionality within it should be as good as new. Feel free to use the same resetting feature when you want to bring any other app, whether third-party or default, back to its original state. With the right tools, fixing errors is a breeze!

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.