10 iPhone texting tips you'll wish you'd known all along

These are the not-so-obvious tips iPhone pros use.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
4 min read

If your iPhone is constantly binging and buzzing and you are continually apologizing for missing texts and not responding in a timely fashion, then it might be time to dig in to some of the features in iMessage that can help prevent your texts from taking over your life. Let us begin.

1. Mute group text alerts

The ability to mute group texts is, by far, my favorite feature of iMessage. When you get thrown into a group text, you can mute the alerts as the group banters back and forth. From the list of messages, swipe left and then tap the purple Hide Alerts button. You'll see a little crescent-moon icon to the left, indicating that its alerts are snoozing. (You can always swipe and tap Show Alerts if you want back in on the alerts.)

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Give a group a name

If you've got multiple group text conversations going, it can be hard to keep track of which group is which. Maybe labels can help. You can quickly name a group text by opening the conversation, tapping the "i" icon in the top right and then tapping Enter a Group Name at the top. Now, the name you give it will appear on your messages list instead of a less-than-useful partial list of names.

3. No repeats

I have a strict one text = one alert policy. Alerts for text messages repeat once by default, so your phone will chirp or vibrate when a text arrives and again two minutes later. But once -- and only once -- is enough. Go to Settings > Notifications > Messages > Repeat Alerts and choose Never to stop text alerts from repeating.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Set a special tone for that special someone

Not every text that arrives carries the same level of importance. Your buddy texting you about fantasy football isn't the same as your spouse or significant other texting about being late. Give that special someone in your life a personalized text alert tone. Open the Contacts app, tap Edit and scroll down to Text Tone and select something other than Default. You can also change the default vibration tone here, too.

5. Block someone

If someone is pestering you via text, it's easy to block that number. From your text conversation, tap the "i" in the top right, tap the name or number at the top and then tap Block this Caller. Finally, tap Block Contact to confirm. (You can always go back and tap Unblock this Caller if you change your mind and want to resume texting with a blocked contact.)

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

6. Reply from notification

You don't need to open the Messages app to reply to a message. You can reply directly from a text notification. Just 3D Touch (long-press) on the notification and you can send your reply.

7. Hide previews

Of course, text notifications mean prying eyes might peep a private conversation. You can turn off text previews completely or just from the lock screen. Head to Settings > Notifications > Messages and scroll down to Show Previews and choose either When Unlocked or Never. You can keep alerts enabled but when a banner alert appears to signal the arrival of a text message, it will just show the sender's name but no message preview if you have Show Previews disabled.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

8. App icon shortcut

To fire off a quick text, you can 3D Touch the Messages app icon and start a New Message or reply to one of three people with whom you were recently texting.

9. Send quick reply

You can also use 3D Touch to fire off a quick response. From the messages list, 3D Touch on a message to open a preview of it and then slide your finger up to reveal three canned responses. If none fits, then you can tap Custom to open the message and type out your own.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

10. Forward without copy and pasting

I'll end here with my second favorite tip, after the muting of chatty group texts. I once thought you needed to copy and paste the text from a text bubble in order to forward it, and it's always a bit of a pain to highlight text and copy it on an iPhone. Little did I know there is a secret forward-message feature in iMessage. Tap and hold on a text bubble, tap More in the menu that pops up from the bottom and then tap the arrow in the lower right corner. Now, the text will be entered into a new message, which you can now send off to whomever you please. Way easier than copying and pasting.

For more texting tips, learn how to use the bubble, screen and other effects that iOS 10 introduced in 2016. And click here if you have ever wondered why some texts are blue and others are green.

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