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Tag: iMessage

Green Bubble Texting Fix if You Use the Messages App on a Mac

The color of your texting bubbles may not matter so much when using your iPhone, but it can be a big problem if you’re using the Messages app on your Mac. Here’s how to erase this pesky issue…

Lately, I’ve been trying to fix a little flaw in my ongoing role as the family photographer. It has to do with what happens after I take my photos…

I bring them back to my iMac, import them into Adobe Lightroom, choose the best ones, tweak and color balance, and then finally I share the few gems with family and friends. Of course, the big problem with my process is it takes time… sometimes lots of time to get to the finish line. It can be a week… sometimes two.

These days, everyone expects almost instantaneous sharing of pics.
Clearly, I need to keep up.

And I’m happy to report that I’m doing better, and here’s why…

Emailing Vs. Texting Photos
Now, I force myself to quickly find the best few pics in a batch and singularly focus on them to get them ready to share. And if I never get to the rest… well, maybe that’s okay, because perhaps all that really matters are those few best photos anyway.
(Are you feeling a disturbance in the Force?)

One other important detail to my evolving photo-management process is how I’m sharing my pics… Usually, I email them about. If I have more than a few to share, I create a Dropbox folder to house them. And then I forward along the Dropbox link in my email.

How easy is that?!

Well, not easy enough…
Because it still requires folks to click on the link and then download the photos.
And that’s takes time.

I’ve noticed that some of my friends prefer to text their photos, and I’ve experienced the simplicity of saving a photo that’s been texted to me directly to my iPhone.

Hmmm…

And while I didn’t want to move my photo sharing process to my iPhone (like the rest of the world), I realized I could take advantage of a texting workflow while still using my iMac…

…by using the ‘Messages’ app.

A Problem with Using the Messages App on Your Mac
You may recall, I’ve recently focused on my son’s 9th birthday and what to get him…
(My gift was a build-your-own computer kit!)

Immediately after his birthday party, I wanted to send out some party pics to our friends, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try out my iMac’s Messages app as my distribution method…

But I immediately ran into a roadblock with one of the phone numbers I used…
The photo just didn’t go through!

Huh.

After a moment, I realized my friend wasn’t part of the Apple ecosystem (no iPhone or Mac). So he didn’t have iMessage functionality…
(The blue bubble type)

And my Mac isn’t as clever as my iPhone which can simply convert an iMessage with a photo to a MMS text with a photo.
(The green bubble type)

So now what???

Text Message Forwarding
Well, the fix was to change a buried iPhone setting to better use Messages on my iMac. You simply turn on the ‘Text Message Forwarding’ feature…

Here’s how you do that on an iPhone:

  • Go to ‘Settings’
  • Tap on ‘Messages’
  • Tap on ‘Text Message Forwarding’
  • Then select the device you want to connect (iMac)

And as soon as I made this adjustment, I resent the photo, and it immediately went through.

Problem solved!

Green-Bubble Fix
With my iMac and iPhone now teamed up in this particular way, the path had been cleared for me to freely share my photos without worry using the Messages app on my iMac.

And the result…?

I received almost instant feedback that my pics had been received and were appreciated.
Now that’s satisfaction!

Text Message Forwarding is an easy fix for your green-bubble moments.

I highly recommend activating it…

Where Are All Your iMessages?

Have you noticed you’re receiving noticeably fewer iMessages on your iPhone recently?  Maybe that’s because you’re not receiving any iMessages.  So what’s the problem…?

Have you noticed you’re receiving noticeably fewer iMessages on your iPhone recently? Maybe that’s because you’re not receiving any iMessages. So what’s the problem…?

I missed a text message from a friend on my iPhone the other day. I realized the problem when I got home and saw the lingering comment glowing on my iPad as an old iMessage.

I looked for it on my iPhone 6 Plus, but it simply wasn’t there…
Strange.

Why was my Wi-Fi iPad receiving iMessages that my iPhone was missing…?

So I decided to take a closer look…

Is iMessage Activated?
I opened up the ‘Messages’ settings on my iPhone.
The red flag was immediately evident….
I saw that ‘iMessage’ was simply turned off.
(That’s confusing.)

And to rub it in, the Off setting was accompanied by an ‘error’ message.

What?
How did iMessage get deactivated?

Come to think of it, I had recently noticed that some of my texts which would typically travel on the free, ‘blue’ iMessage road to another iDevice were only showing up as normal ‘green’ SMS texts that count against my texting plan.
(Yes, I still have a free-texting limit. Is that too old school?)

I didn’t think much of these little green monsters, because sometimes the blue path gets inexplicably blocked, forcing an iMessage to morph into a standard text.

Why Is iMessage Suddenly Turned Off ?
So I immediately reactivated iMessage on my phone, which required my thumbprint’s touch ID authentication.
(Why was my phone treating me like a stranger?)

More importantly though, I wanted to know why this had all happened in the first place.

I had recently upgraded my iPhone’s operating software to iOS 8.3. Was this the culprit…?

I took a look online at some Apple message boards, and in fact there were others talking about similar problems. But I found no official determination that an iMessage issue had been created by iOS 8.3.

Huh.

Check the Facts Again
Then I did a little more diagnostic research as to when the green texting regression actually cropped up. I tracked my daily texts to my wife, and in fact, they started turning green a month back on April 1.

D’oh!

And that was before iOS 8.3….

It’s possible I did a previous iOS upgrade on that day, but I no longer have any evidence.

All I’m left with is… April Fools!!!
(seriously?)

Don’t Anger the Tech Gods
So what are the lessons learned here…?

  1. Never ignore the playful (and frustrating) power of April Fools’ Day.
  2. It’s probably a good idea to check your iMessage settings every time you upgrade the iOS on your iDevice.
  3. If it takes a month to figure out you’ve got a tech problem, you can’t place all the blame on someone else.

Let’s move on…

Saying “Sleep Tight” from 5,000 Miles Away

Skype will be doing some heavy lifting for me, as I stay connected to my life back home during my trip to South America.

I’m going on a trip.
Far, far away.
I’m flying to Santiago, Chile.

Three worries have dominated my brain space, as I’ve prepared for this little adventure for my job.

  • What shots do I need, so I don’t become Typhoid Mary?
  • What can I eat, so I don’t get Montezuma’s Revenge?
  • And how the heck do I stay in touch with my family without breaking the bank?

The Vaccination Plan
I had to visit the doctor’s office three times to fill up on all the shots I needed.
But I found an unexpected issue you might be interested in.
For all of you out there of a certain age, you probably need a Measles/Mumps/Rubella combo booster shot that apparently few of us got when we were kids. Even if you’re not planning an international trip, you might want to take care of this while here at home.
I’m just saying… Everyone else in America is covered.
I guess that vaccination box fell off the truck back in 1965.
Anyway, now I’m all set.

The Cuisine
We all know- Don’t drink the water. Don’t eat anything uncooked that’s been washed with water. So that means no fruits and vegetables.
What a hardship. I’ll live.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
I don’t have to tell you that using your cell phone internationally is expensive.
I called AT&T last week, and the best wireless international deal they could offer that covers roaming charges is $1.99/minute plus the $6 monthly fee. And that’s just to use the phone. A data plan for email and web is a whole different story that starts at $30/month plus usage fees.

Apparently, some Americans have lost their life savings (slight exaggeration) taking a peek at Facebook on their smartphone overseas. (Come to think of it, there are other ways to lose money with Facebook these days.)

Something for Nothing?
You know, I’m not just interested in racking up big phone charges.
That’s so 1999.

In the good old days, you would just pick up the hotel phone and dial away with a cigarette and blindfold on.

Or, you had your expensive AT&T calling card. Remember that? You just sucked it up and paid big bucks to make a quick call to let mom know you’re still alive.

Or maybe you just disconnected for a week and went cold turkey.
(I shudder at the thought. Wait, I can’t tell if it’s with shock or glee.)

But we now live in more ‘evolved’ times, where technology has supposedly broken through the shackles of the old school wireless titans.

Just Turn It Off
I think the best way to ensure you don’t bleed money with your smart phone is to temporarily hobble it as a cell phone. You just turn off its wireless capability before you step on the plane. For my iPhone, that means activating the airplane mode and blocking the data function.

So what good is it then?
Well, you’ve still got its Wi-Fi functionality.
Turn it back on and use what you’ve got.

With the power of any international hotel’s Wi-Fi network, you can easily check email and surf the web without the assistance of a wireless carrier.
And with my iPhone, I can even do a video FaceTime chat with my wife and son at home before he goes ‘night night.’

Apple’s iMessage will also work over Wi-Fi. So now you’ve got your texting functionality back to communicate with other iMessage users.
No problem.

But if anyone else wants to reach me, especially those who don’t know I’m away, my cell phone number and normal texting functions are trapped in my lobotomized iPhone.

I’m essentially unreachable.
Or am I?

Skype Online Number
I’ve always wondered how Skype does what it does.
Always for free or pennies on the dollar.
All these years, I thought there had to be a catch.
But now, I’m leaving the country, and the only communications lifeline I’m giving myself is Skype.

As you’re probably aware, Skype is best known as a free computer-to-computer voice tool anywhere in the world. That’s really nice. But who spends all their time at their computer? Especially when travelling?

Well, Skype has been busy expanding its offerings, and it now proudly lives on my iPhone. As long as I’m within range of a Wi-Fi network, I can receive calls from anyone back in the States for free. (almost)

Here’s how-

I bought a Skype Online Number, which works like a regular telephone number using the area code of my choice.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be turning off the cell part of my iPhone by turning on its Airplane mode. Just to be safe, I’ll also turn off data roaming, which prevents my phone from surfing the web or receiving text messages with big international fees attached.

Now, when someone calls my new Online Number, and as long as my iPhone is active on a Wi-Fi network with Skype running, my phone will be back in business.
If I miss a call, no worries. I’ve also got Skype voicemail.

The cost to set this crazy idea up?
$12.06 for three months.
(Skype is currently running a sale for their Online Numbers.)

But what about the 95% of my contacts who won’t know to call my new number?
Are you ready?

I’ll just forward my regular cell phone number (which won’t work while my phone is in Airplane mode) to my fabulous Online Number.

(thinking)
(thinking)
(Light bubble goes off!)

Genius!

And how do you complete the circuit to call someone back in the States?
Are you sitting down? This sounds even more absurd.

Buy a $2.99/month Unlimited US and Canada plan.
All your Skype calls to a US landline or mobile number are now free.

What?! That sounds impossible.
But I’ve done some research on this, and it seems to hold up.
And yes, this works if you call from anywhere in the world on a Wi-Fi connection.
This is all so simple and inexpensive, and ludicrous!
There’s got to be a catch, right?

I don’t think so.
(And if I’ve missed something, please let me know!)

Of course, remember, you’ve got to be tethered to a Wi-Fi network, which is the only major downside to this very disruptive concept. (I’m expecting several stealth Blackhawk helicopters to be hovering over my house any minute now.)

But I should be fine with my plan, because I’ll be working much of the time and close to the hotel’s Wi-Fi.

Skype WiFi
And when I leave the hotel’s Wi-Fi bubble, I also have another Skype app called Skype WiFi. This app allows you to find public hotspots that partner with Skype for a wicked cheap per-minute connection, which you pay with your Skype Credit.

So if you haven’t guessed, I’m going for it!

Wife IT Support
And after I explained my lengthy, ingenious solution to my wife, she offered me her own airtight plan that she took five nanoseconds to research for me:

When she wants to reach me at night, she will walk to the couch, sit down, and pick up our home phone. She will then call my hotel room using our Optimum Voice international plan, which has a low 17 cent/minute cost to Chile.

Hmmm….
Well… I guess that works too.
(I’m not going to let my overlooking this obvious and very practical strategy spoil my joy.)

Wheels up in less than 8 hours. I’ll let you know how it goes…!

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