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Fix: “Waiting for activation” error with iMessage

iMessage is probably the most convenient mean of communication if most of your friends are in the Apple ecosystem. But as with any other app, issues that may slow you down occur from time to time.

One of the most annoying iMessage situations is when you can’t activate it, and when you’re greeted with that scary “Waiting for activation” message. And since you’re not already signed in to iMessage, I assume you got your iPhone recently. I’m sure this issue spoiled the initial excitement we all feel when getting a new phone.

But don’t worry, because we’ll try to deal with that infuriating “Waiting for activation” message in this article. And if we’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to chat and exchange goofy emoji with your friends in no time. Or at least soon enough.

Table of contents:

  1. Re-enable iMessage
  2. Re-enable FaceTime
  3. Check your internet connection
  4. Set the proper time
  5. Update  your iPhone
  6. Sign out of iCloud and then back in
  7. Reset Network Settings
  8. Contact Apple Support or your carrier

Re-enable iMessage

Most of the time resolving this issue is as simple as re-activating iMessage. So, let’s start our (hopefully short) troubleshooting process here. Here’s how to re-enable iMessage:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Messages.
  3. Make sure iMessage is disabled.
  4. Reboot your iPhone
  5. Now, head back to Settings > Messages, and re-enable iMessage.

Ideally, you would see the results right away. However, there’s one thing that certainly doesn’t make it easier for you. And that’s the fact that it may take up to 24 hours for iMessage to reconnect to Apple’s servers and activate.

That may leave you in the limbo where you can’t know whether the issue has been indeed resolved. So, you’ll have a much clearer picture once this period passes. In the meantime, you can try some alternative solutions and see where that gets you.

Re-enable FaceTime

Although re-enabling FaceTime won’t directly help you when dealing with the iMessage issue, it could help in determining the cause. That’s because FaceTime and iMessage use the same servers, so if one app doesn’t work, the other one probably won’t either.

Here’s how to re-enable FaceTime:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to FaceTime.
  3. Make sure FaceTime is disabled.
  4. Reboot your iPhone
  5. Now, head back to Settings > FaceTime, and re-enable FaceTime.

Check your internet connection

Although the Messages app can be used for exchanging SMS messages (which don’t require any internet connection whatsoever), registering and using the iMessage part requires the internet connection. Preferably WiFi.

So, before proceeding to other solutions, swiftly make sure you’re properly connected to the internet. And before all, make sure Airplane Mode isn’t on. As you probably already know, this feature blocks all the connections on your phone to prevent potential data losses while you’re up in the sky. If Airplane Mode is on, there’s no chance you’ll be able to activate iMessage.

To disable Airplane Mode, just go to Settings, and toggle the option off. It’s literally the first item in Settings.

Check the time settings

Having incorrect time and date would’ve normally been highly unlikely, but assuming you just got your phone, there’s a chance a mistake slipped through. And if date and time are not correct, you could face all sorts of issues, with our iMessage error being just one of them.

  1.  Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to General > Date &Time.
  3. Toggle the Set Automatically option off.
  4. Set the correct date and time.
  5. Toggle the Set Automatically option back on.

Update  your iPhone

iOS updates are a strange bunch. While some bring great features that we enjoy using, other releases can really mess up your whole phone. So, it’s possible you were unlucky enough to install an update that somehow disrupts iMessage.

Now, I can’t tell if that’s indeed the case because I don’t know when you’ll be reading this article. But what I can tell you is that if an update is indeed the cause, there’s probably not much you can do about it. If you suspect an update could be the culprit for the “Waiting for activation” error, do some research online. See if other people are complaining about it and if there’s actually a solution.

If there’s no know solution, basically all you can do is wait for another update and hope Apple will address the issue soon.

Sign out of iCloud and then back in

If reactivating iMessage didn’t work, maybe you should think on a bigger scale, and re-sync your whole iCloud account. Okay, that was a lame attempt to sell you the most generic solution in IT, but it might actually get the job done. So, why not give it a try, if nothing else works.

Here’s how to sign out of your iCloud account, and then sign back in:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap your name, and go to Sign out.
  3. Type your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
  4. A window asking you which data you want to copy from your iCloud account to your phone. keep in mind that this might delete some data from your phone, so you’ll want to carefully read the instructions on this page.
  5. Once you’ve decided what you want to keep, tap Sign Out.
  6. Now that you’re signed out, head back to Settings, and go Sign in to your iPhone.
  7. Enter your credentials, tap Next, enter your passcode, and you’re back in.

Reset Network Settings

If none of the solutions listed above helped, you might also consider resetting your network settings. However, keep in mind that doing this will reset all your settings, without actually resolving the problem, and all you could potentially end up with is more work. So, you’ll probably want to wait those 24 hours and see if iMessage actually activates.

But if you’re willing to take the risk, here’s how to reset your iPhone settings:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to General > Reset.
  3. Tap Reset All Settings.
  4. Confirm that you want to reset all your settings.

Contact Apple Support or your carrier

This is as far as I can get you. If iMessage couldn’t activate after you tried all of the solutions listed above and waited for 24 hours, it’s best to contact your carrier first, and if they’re unable to fix the problem, Apple Support directly.

Who knows, maybe your carrier will be able to do something, like updating your settings with the latest servers, for example. You’ll only find out if you contact them.

And if your carrier fails to resolve the issue, there’s always Apple support.

That’s about it. I hope I helped you get rid of that annoying “Waiting for activation” error, or that I at least pointed you in the right direction towards resolving this inconvenience. In case you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, make sure to write them down in the comments below.

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