Why Aren't My Messages Sending?

If you are having problems sending or receiving text messages, it could be due to several reasons, from network connectivity issues to blocked numbers.

Our Why Aren't My Messages Sending guide will help you fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Recommended: Get a toll-free number for your business to send professional text messages.

Reasons Text Messages Don't Get Delivered

There are a number of reasons text messages don't get delivered. One reason is that the recipient's phone might be turned off or out of service. Another reason is that the recipient might have changed their phone number. Yet another possibility is that the text message might have been sent to the wrong person.

Another reason text messages don't get delivered is that they can get caught in spam filters. This is more likely to happen if the sender has a new phone number or if they're sending a lot of messages at once. To avoid this, recipients should add the sender's phone number to their contacts list.

Finally, sometimes text messages just don't go through for no apparent reason. This is usually due to a problem with the cell tower or the sender's service provider.

The following list looks at some of these common message failure reasons and provides ways to troubleshoot them.

Recommended: Use our SMS Marketing for Small Business guide to learn how to market your business with text messaging.

1. You've Entered the Wrong Number

If you're sending messages to phone numbers that are not in your contact list, it could be that you've simply entered the wrong number. Double-check the number before trying to resend your message.

2. You're Sending Messages to an Old Number

If you have multiple phone numbers listed for one recipient, it's possible that the one you're using is out-of-date. Again, this is a simple fix that can be done by double-checking that the number is correct.

3. The Recipient's Phone Is Switched Off

If your recipient's phone is not turned on, you may receive a failed message alert, and your message may not even go through until the person turns their phone back on. It's even possible that open messages won't get delivered at all.

To fix this, try sending your text messages later when you believe the person would likely have their phone turned on.

4. You or the Recipient Have a Bad Network Connection

A bad cellular network connection can cause you to miss important calls or texts. There are a few solutions to try and fix the problem.

First, check your phone's signal strength indicator to see if the problem is with your device or the network. If the indicator shows full bars, the problem is most likely with your phone. If so, try restarting it or checking for software updates.

If the signal strength indicator shows that the problem is with the network, there are a few things you can do. First, try moving to a different location. If that doesn't work, try turning off any features on your phone that might be causing interference, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

You can also try contacting your service provider to see if they are experiencing any outages in your area.

5. 'Receive SMS Messages' Is Turned Off

If your messages aren't being delivered, it might be because "Receive SMS Messages" is turned off. This feature is usually turned on by default on most phones, but it can also be turned off accidentally.

To fix this, make sure that "Receive SMS Messages" is turned on in your phone's settings.

Receive Messages on iOS

In your iPhone's Settings app, tap "Cellular." Then, scroll down and toggle on "Receive SMS Messages."

Receive Messages on Android

Toggling SMS messages on Android devices is more in-depth:

  1. Go to "Settings."
  2. Tap on the "Wireless & Networks" option.
  3. Make sure that the "Mobile Data" option is turned on.
  4. Tap "More."
  5. Tap "Cellular Networks."
  6. Toggle the "Receive SMS Messages" option.

6. Airplane Mode Is Turned On

Most electronic devices have an airplane mode feature that allows the user to disable all wireless signals. When airplane mode is enabled, it disables the device’s ability to emit radio frequencies, effectively preventing interference with aircraft systems.

To fix this, disable airplane mode on your device. This feature can usually be found in the “quick menu” on iOS and Android devices.

Keep in mind that you will need to re-enable any wireless features on your device after turning off airplane mode. This includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular data.

7. Blocked Numbers

Whether by accident or not, some people block numbers from people they no longer wish to communicate with. If you believe that your number was blocked by accident, try getting in contact with the recipient to resolve the issue.

Likewise, if you've blocked any numbers from calling your phone in the past, it's possible that you may have inadvertently blocked a number you didn't intend to block.

If you have a contact that you've blocked on your phone and you want to unblock them, try either of these solutions:

  • On an iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts. Tap the name of the person you want to unblock.
  • On an Android phone, tap Messages > Settings > Block numbers and spam. Tap the X next to the number you want to unblock.

Once you've unblocked the contact, their name will no longer appear on your list of blocked contacts.

8. Your Number Is Flagged as Spam

A 2019 survey estimated that only 42% of text messages are read by the intended recipient because most are automatically filtered out as spam.

Here are a few ways you can keep your messages from being flagged as spam:

  • Avoid using all caps or excessive punctuation in your message. This can make your message come across as shouty or spammy.
  • Don't include any links in your message unless they're absolutely necessary. Links are often flagged as spam by filters.
  • Keep your message short and to the point. Longer messages are more likely to be caught by spam filters.
  • Make sure you have a clear subject line that concisely states what your message is about.

9. You’re Sending Too Many Messages

When you send too many text messages in a short period of time, the chances are that some of them won't go through. This is because the network can get overloaded and can't keep up with the demand.

10. The Recipient Opted Out of Messages

Some people opt out of text messaging because they prefer to talk on the phone or communicate through other means.

To fix this, try reaching out to the person and inquiring if they have a different messaging app they use.

11. Your Messages Are Being Flagged as ‘Illegal Content’

According to guidance by the FTC, the CAN-SPAM Act can apply to some instances of text messages. For example, internet-to-phone SMS messages are prohibited by the FCC, and messages with "deceptive subject lines" are considered spam and, therefore, illegal. Ensure that your message content complies with legal guidelines before sending it to recipients.

12. You’re Texting a Landline

If the phone number you are sending a text message to is a landline, it's possible that the message may not make it through correctly. However, text-to-landline features typically convert text-based messages to voice messages.

13. Carrier Problems

When you send text messages and they don't get delivered it could be that your carrier's mobile network is not functioning correctly. If your network settings show a problem on your end, you'll not be able to send text messages to anyone. If it's on your recipient's end, you may be able to send messages to other contacts.

To fix messages not sending because of a network problem, first, try turning your phone on and off to see if this reset fixes the problem. If it doesn't correct it, reach out to your carrier directly to learn what can be done.

14. Your Recipient's Phone Needs to Be Updated

Some phones' text message app's cache may need to be deleted or updated before receiving messages. To do this, the recipient may need to clear data or restart their phone if experiencing technical difficulties. If this doesn't work, it could be a mechanical problem like an out-of-date SIM card.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren't my messages sending?

The top reasons messages don't get sent are that you've entered the wrong number or have a poor connection, or faulty messages app.

Why am I unable to receive text messages?

There are several reasons why you might not be able to receive messages. One possibility is that your phone is set to Do Not Disturb. Another possibility is that you have a poor signal or no signal at all.

What is an SMS message?

SMS stands for short message signal. These are text messages that are 160 characters or less without multimedia, images, or emojis.

Is there another way to send SMS messages?

Another way to send an SMS is with a messages app like Google Voice, WhatsApp, or Skype. These messaging platforms can help with sending open messages the same way your phone app does.

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