If you get an error when trying to activate iMessage

Recently iMessage became deactivated on one of the iPhones in my household. And each time I tried to activate iMessage under Settings > Messages, I received the error message “iMessage Activation: An error occurred during activation. Try again.”

As it turns out, it was a particularly stubborn issue to resolve. I tried a dozen fixes, restoring from a backup, and a support call to Apple in which a very kind representative complimented me on my “extensive knowledge” before passing me up the chain. Nothing worked short of restoring the iPhone to factory settings and then setting it up as new - a fix of last resort that I wasn’t willing to settle on.

So in hopes of helping others, here’s what I suggest if you run into a similar issue, and what ultimately worked for me. This should work for FaceTime Activation issues as well.

Before You Begin

Back up your device. I suggest a back up to iTunes and selecting the option to encrypt your backup. You shouldn’t need it, but if something goes awry you’ll be happy to have a fresh backup.

First Try Apple’s Suggestions

Try the steps outlined in this Apple support document titled “If you get an error when trying to activate iMessage or FaceTime”. If the problem isn’t resolved by the time you get to the step that suggests calling your carrier, move on to the step below.

Next Try Resetting Network Settings

Although this didn’t fix the issue for me, this is a common suggestion, and one that an Apple representative recommended to me. Go to Settings > General > Reset and select “Reset Network Settings”. Note that this step resets Wi-Fi networks and passwords, cellular settings, and VPN and APN settings that you’ve used before.

Reset All Settings

This is what worked for me. Go to Settings > General > Reset and select “Reset All Settings”. Note that this step resets all settings to iOS defaults - Wi-Fi, sounds, wallpaper, etc. However, that’s better than having to restore to factory settings, and setting it up as a new iPhone.