Using Messages on the Mac or in iOS is simple. Start a new conversation, enter someone’s phone number or email address, and start chatting. And if you want to talk with several people at once, type a couple of phone numbers or email addresses when you begin.
What you may not realize is that if everyone in your group is using an Apple device and iMessage—this is the case if their messages appear in blue bubbles, a variety of extra features become available when you click or tap the Details button in the upper-right corner of Messages. Did you know that:
- You can give the conversation a name that’s more descriptive than the truncated names of the people in the conversation. On the Mac, just type in the Group Name field; in iOS, pull down on the Details screen to reveal the Group Name field.
- At any time, you can add more people to the conversation; just click or tap Add Contact and select the desired contacts.
- Similarly, people can be removed from the conversation. On the Mac, click the person’s name and press Delete; in iOS, swipe left on their name and tap Delete. Be careful with this feature since there’s no opportunity to confirm the deletion, so you’d have to add any mistakenly deleted people back manually. Plus, the iOS version of Messages doesn’t always let you remove people.
- You can even “delete” yourself. If you’ve been included in a group conversation accidentally or ended up in one that doesn’t interest you, click or tap Leave This Conversation at the bottom of the Details screen. Once you’ve left, you can’t get back in without someone else adding you.
- Is leaving a little drastic? Perhaps the conversation is just being too chatty while you need to get work done. Turn on Do Not Disturb to mute notifications from the conversation; turn it off again when you’re ready to be alerted to new messages again.
- Everyone in the conversation can send or share their location from an iPhone or iPad. Sending a location is like posting a message saying “I’m at the library now” along with a map to where you are. Sharing your location allows the others to see where you are at all times, for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely. Of course, if you opt to share indefinitely, you can revoke that sharing later.
- When anyone in the conversation is sharing their location, a map appears at the top, showing the locations of those who have shared. This is fabulous for keeping track of relatives during family reunions where different groups might head out on separate outings.
- Finally, at the bottom of the Details screen, you can see all the attachments that people have shared within the conversation. Messages gives you control over attachments, letting you preview, copy, save, open, delete, and share them. It’s all easy; on the Mac, select attachments and Control/right-click to display a contextual menu, or press the Space bar to invoke Quick Look. In iOS, press and hold on the attachment until additional options appear.
Alas, if you want to include even one green bubble friend who doesn’t have an iPhone with an iMessage account set up and instead relies on plain old SMS text messaging, these features disappear. It’s just another way Apple encourages your friends and relatives to use iPhones.