Several users have reported an issue in which they are having problems with iMessage not activating. Users say they are getting this message Waiting for activation… and after a while, users get this message Activation unsuccessful. Turn on iMessage to try again.
It has also been reported that this issue also occurs with FaceTime. And you may see a slightly different message on your device, depending on the iOS version
When activating iMessage or FaceTime, look for one of these messages
- Waiting for activation
- Activation unsuccessful
- An error occurred during activation
- Could not sign in, please check your network connection
This short article explains how to troubleshoot iMessage and FaceTime activation issues on iDevices (iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.)
- 1 Quick Tips
- 2 Remember to Wait 24 Hours
- 3 Using an iPhone?
- 4 Check Apple’s System Status
- 5 How to Fix Waiting for Activation in iMessage and FaceTime
- 6 Reset iPhone to Factory Settings
- 7 Having Problems Activation iMessage or FaceTime on a Mac?
- 8 Reader Tips
- 9 Wrapping It Up
Try These Quick Tips to Solve iMessage and FaceTime Activation Issues
- Be patient and wait a full 24 hours before troubleshooting
- Check that your iPhone can send SMS (texts)
- Toggle iMessage or FaceTime off, wait 20-30 seconds, and toggle back on
- For pre-paid mobile plans, make sure you have a credit on your account
- Toggle Airplane Mode on and off
- Disable any restrictions on your device
- Reset your network settings
- Return all your iDevice’s settings to defaults
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Remember to Wait 24 Hours
Please note that activation may take up to 24 hours to complete. Leave iMessage, and FaceTime enabled for this entire period and do not toggle it off and on.
Using an iPhone?
If your iPhone is failing to activate iMessage or FaceTime, make sure you activated SMS messaging on your phone. Go to Settings > Messages and toggle on MMS Messaging.
Also, check that your mobile plan includes SMS service. On iPhones, iMessage activates using SMS so it cannot initiate without it.
Check Apple’s System Status
Sometimes Apple experiences system issues that impact iMessage and FaceTime, so it’s a good idea to check Apple’s system status and verify that the problem is not on their end.
If there is a system issue, it’s marked in yellow or red. The solution? Wait it out.
How to Fix Waiting for Activation in iMessage and FaceTime
Try each step until you resolve your problem:
- Ensure that you are using a valid Apple ID
- Make sure that you have a valid cellular or Wi-Fi data connection
- Make sure that your date, time, and time zone are set correctly. Go to Settings > General > Date and Time and make any corrections. Or toggle off and on Set Automatically
- Check with your mobile carrier and ensure you have credit on your SIM card, especially for pre-paid plans. If you don’t have any credit, add some money (even a small amount.) Our readers report that iMessage (and Facetime) will NOT activate without SMS credit on your mobile account!
- Toggle Airplane Mode on and off
- Turn iMessage and/or FaceTime off and on in Settings > Messages (or Settings > FaceTime)
- Open iMessage, under the message settings, a pop-up message may appear saying your carrier may charge for SMS messages and select “cancel.”
- iMessage activates itself after you have clicked cancel. But this would not fully activate itself. Instead, you activated iMessage via e-mail, so you can only send messages with your e-mail address
- Try restarting your device
- To do this simply, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the red “slide to power off” slider appears, and then slide the slider; and then Press and hold the Sleep/Wake to turn on
- Check your phone number. Go to Settings > Phone > My Number. Verify that your number is accurate in My Number and restart your device
- Look at Settings > General > Restrictions > Accounts and make sure that you selected “Allow Changes” and enable the FaceTime to work
- Reset your network settings: Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
- Remove any personalized settings and return to defaults. Got to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. This action does not remove any app data, photos, texts, and other documents
- Start fresh. Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. But please note that this option will delete all your data and media
If above tips do not help, please try the following (extreme solution)
Reset iPhone to Factory Settings
Disable iMessage (Settings > Messages) and back up your device (iTunes or iCloud) and tap Settings > General > Reset and select Erase all content and settings.
This deletes everything. When iOS setup assistant start, select “Set Up as New iPhone.” Sign in with your Apple ID and then restore your device from your backup.
Having Problems Activation iMessage or FaceTime on a Mac?
Check your Apple ID
- Messages: Choose Messages > Preferences > Accounts. Select your iMessage account, then click Sign Out. And sign in again
- FaceTime: Choose FaceTime > Preferences > Settings. Tap Sign Out. Then sign in again
Reset Your Mac’s NVRAM
Sometimes problems with iMessage and FaceTime are related to the settings your Mac stores in NVRAM. So let’s reset that!
Resetting NVRAM (also called PRAM)
- Shut down or restart your Mac, then turn it back on then press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R
- Release the keys after about 20 seconds or when you hear a second startup chime (dependent on model.) For the iMac Pro, release the keys after the Apple logo appears and disappears a second time
Disable Firewalls or Third-Party Security Software
If your Mac has a firewall, a VPN, other security programs, or third-party networking software, check that this software isn’t blocking any of the network ports used by iMessage and FaceTime.
Try to temporarily disable that software and see if you can access iMessage or FaceTime.
- If you have another iPhone (or can borrow someones for a few minutes), take your iPhone’s SIM card out, put it in the other iPhone and tap Reset All Settings. Make sure the other person knows you’re doing this and get their permission! It doesn’t erase any data but returns any customized settings to their defaults. Worked for me!
Wrapping It Up
Most users are able to set up iMessage and FaceTime on the first try; however, some were not able to do so. Hopefully, these methods help you overcome this activation issue.
Let us know your progress in the comment section below.
And if after all this, FaceTime or iMessage still won’t activate, contact Apple Support.