How to Reply to a Specific Message on an iPhone

Catching up with your chatty friend who is no stranger to double, triple, or even quadruple texting can result in a rather confusing conversation. How do you know which of the myriad topics in your chat you should try replying to first?

How to Reply to a Specific Message on an iPhone

This issue might have been a bane of group chats once, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. Since the introduction of inline replies, text conversations can digress in many directions while staying easy to follow. Here’s how to respond to a specific message on an iPhone.

Inline replies are available in many messaging apps today, and they are undoubtedly helpful. They allow you to reply to a specific message instead of risking misunderstanding when discussing multiple topics. This option was introduced to iMessage with iOS 14 in 2020. Therefore, you’ll need to update your mobile OS if you have an earlier version to leverage inline replies.

How to Reply to a Specific Text Message in iMessage

Replying to a specific message in iMessage is easy, but your conversation needs to meet a few conditions for this function to work.

  • Both your iPhone and the recipient’s device need to be running on iOS 14 or newer.
  • Both you and the other person need to be using iMessage, not text.

You’ll know you’re using iMessage when the speech bubbles in the conversation are blue. Green speech bubbles mean regular text messaging, which doesn’t support inline replies, unfortunately. If you’re only seeing green speech bubbles, make sure you have enabled iMessage in your settings:

  1. Go to your Settings app and scroll down to find “Messages.”
  2. Toggle the iMessage button so that it’s on.

If your conversation meets the conditions mentioned above, you can reply to any message directly:

  1. Open the iMessage conversation of your choice.
  2. Scroll up to find the text you want to reply to.
  3. Select the message in one of the following ways:
    • Press and hold the speech bubble.
    • Double-tap the message.
  4. Several options will pop up. Tap the “Reply” arrow. The rest of the conversation, besides the selected message, will be blurred out.
  5. Type your reply and hit the blue arrow to send your message.

Inline replies create a whole new “sub-conversation” inside the main chat. You can stay in this sub-conversation where the rest of the chat is blurred out and continue sending more replies to the original message. If you want to return to the main chat, you can exit the sub-conversation by simply tapping your screen.

Another great thing about inline replies is that chat participants can always go back to the original message to which you replied. They just need to tap the message in the inline reply. Of course, your conversation partners can also respond to your inline reply, but don’t worry; it won’t get messy. A grey line in the main chat will indicate that these messages are all part of a thread. Under the original message, a small number will tell you how many replies the message has received, and tapping this number will take you to all the replies. Neat!

You can reply to other people’s and your own messages using the steps described above. Inline replies can thus be great for referring back to something without sending annoying screenshots, too.

Similarly, inline replies work both in one-on-one and group conversations in iMessage, so you’ll never get left behind in a lively group chat again.

How to Reply to a Specific Person in iMessage

Inline replies are not the only way to get someone’s attention in a group chat. If you want to notify a specific person, you can also use Mentions.

  1. Open the group conversation in your iMessage.
  2. Start typing the participant’s name and it turns to gray then tap it. Their profile will pop up.
  3. Tap their profile and send your message.

If the person has allowed notifications, they will receive an alert of your message even if they’ve muted the group chat.


Can I inline reply to any message?

Yes, you can reply to any message, whether in a private or a group conversation, if the other person also has the inline reply option. If they don’t, you may be able to send an inline reply, but it will show up as a regular message on their side.

Why can’t I reply to a specific message in iMessage?

If you don’t have the reply option at all, make sure your system is updated. You can check for system updates in your iPhone Settings. If you can reply to some messages but not others, check whether both you and the other person are using iMessage (and not regular text) on an up-to-date iOS device.

Keep the Conversation Going

With the inline reply option, giving your two cents in group conversations won’t depend on having the fastest fingers around. Just scroll up, and you’ll be able to get back to a topic that has been buried by new messages. Using inline replies in iMessage is easy as pie, but it can give a whole new dimension to texting.

Did you know about the inline reply feature on iOS? Which other messaging features do you wish Apple would add in their next update? Let us know in the comments section below.

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