How to sync up iMessages on the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Today Apple introduced a beta version of Messages – the desktop counterpart to messages on iOS devices. It’s a preview of what’s to come in Mountain Lion and exactly what I’ve wanted for quite some time.

My iMessages are now everywhere: on my iPhone, my Mac, and my iPad. However, there’s one issue: syncing isn’t clearly explained and can be confusing.

This morning, after downloading Messages beta, I tried adding my account and received this error: Unable to verify “…” because it is already in use by another Apple ID. Simple fix: the email address is associated with another Apple ID. I have several Apple IDs and it’s a pain to manage each and every one – time to consolidate. The easiest thing to do is to remove alternate email addresses for the Apple IDs by logging in here: – once removed you’ll be able to add that email to the Apple ID that you want to use.

Now on to the main course: syncing all messages across all devices.

Here’s how to sync all of your messages:

iOS Devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad):

  1. Navigate to Settings > Messages.
  2. Make sure iMessage is turned on.
  3. Tap on Receive At.
  4. Check your Apple ID. Make note of this Apple ID.
  5. Tap on Caller ID.
  6. Use your email address. If you use your phone number (assuming you’re on an iPhone), then the non phone devices (including the Mac) may not (and probably won’t) see the messages.

Mac version:

  1. Navigate to the Messages app.
  2. Go to Preferences > Accounts.
  3. Add the same Apple ID as you used on the iOS devices.


In a nutshell: everything needs to be consistent. Use the same Apple ID everywhere and an email address as a caller id for best results.

If you want messages sent to your phone number to show up on your Mac, you’ll have to wait until the fall when iOS6 is released.

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8 thoughts on “How to sync up iMessages on the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

  1. sam beesonNo Gravatar

    Hi, thanks for the post.
    Very helpful.
    However having removed my alternate emails from my AppleIDs (on both the account I want to use, and my other AppleID) Im still getting the same error message.
    Any clue as to why this might still be happening?
    Could it just be a case of the details at their end not updating right away?


  2. MattNo Gravatar Post author

    You won’t be able to use two different Apple ID’s because the email addresses will always be in use (since they are the ID).

  3. PikoNo Gravatar

    Hmmm… I followed your advise, and checked the Apple ID web site. I was finally able to get Message beta to work by just using “pik0″ instead of the full address. That was the ticket. Then it allowed me to add the reached for messages at list of addresses to use.

  4. shamoonNo Gravatar

    hey i have a problem, my brother and sister both have an ipod touch with camera and i have a iphone. They are getting all my iphone messages ? help ??

  5. ThankfulNo Gravatar

    I was on tech support for over an hour and they were perplexed as to why my Mac and iPad messages were syncing but not with the iPhone. I read your bog and realized for caller ID I needed to check my email not my phone number. They all are syncing now thanks you!!

  6. YesefNo Gravatar

    Interestingly, the application was not recognizing my Apple ID ending with “” but my original Apple ID ending with “” (iCloud uses both interchangeably). I signed out and signed in again but under my Apple ID ending with “” and all messages started to show simultaneously in my iPhone and iMac.

    Thanks for the tip!

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