iMessage on Mac and iPhone

When you start a new iMessage conversation it might not originate from the phone number or Apple ID that you expect, causing confusion for the recipient. Here’s how to make sure new conversations use the correct phone number or email address.

This setting is one that has been part of iOS and macOS for years, but it’s one that might not be set up correctly by default. If you’d rather use your email address when starting a new iMessage conversation, then you will need to make sure all of your devices are configured correctly. If they’re not, you run the risk of message fragmentation at the receiving end, with people potentially having multiple conversations with the same person, but using two different numbers or email addresses.

It’s this potential for confusion that Apple has tried to prevent via multiple updates, and even though things are undoubtedly better now than they were just a couple of years ago, nothing is perfect.

Making sure that new iMessage conversations are started with a consistent number or email address is half the battle, so here’s how to make sure your devices are all on the same wavelength.

Changing the number or email address new conversations start from on iPhone and iPad

To begin, open the Settings app and tap “Messages.”

Open Settings. Tap Messages

Next, scroll down and tap “Send & Receive.”

Tap send and receive

On the next screen, below “Start new conversations from,” you will see the available starting points for new iMessage conversations. You will most likely see your phone number and at least one email address, starting with your Apple ID. Tap the one that you want new conversations to start from.

Tap the number or email address you want to use

Changing the number or email address new conversations start from on a Mac

Open the Messages app and click “Messages” in the Menu Bar, followed by “Preferences.”

Open Messages. Click Messages. Click Preferences


Click the “iMessage” tab to see options associated with the messaging service.

Finally, click the drop-down box beneath “Start new conversations from” and select the number or email address you wish to use.

Click the number or address you want to use

By making sure your new iMessage conversations are using the correct phone number or email address you can prevent any confusion for the recipient. If you’ve ever found yourself part of multiple conversations with the same person, this would be a good setting for both of you to check, too.

Profile Photo for Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple.
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