Sending Texts & iMessages with Special Effects

Many of us use texting as a basic communication tool.  Even our children and grandchildren seem to respond better to texts than phone calls. We can also use texting to stay connected with friends. It’s just an easy way to stay in touch.

The Message app on your iPhone and iPad is able to take our texts beyond the basics and allow you to add celebratory flair to a standard text message.

In this recipe, you will learn about three enhancements that will add flair to text messaging, 1) Special Animation Effects, 2) Tapback Responses and 3) Handwriting a message.

Our First Time

The Message app on your iPhone and iPad is able to add flair to the standard text message.

Many of us will first see these special effects when we send a “Happy Birthday” text to another iPhone user. It is easy to see. Test it by sending yourself “Happy Birthday” (yes, send a text message to your own phone number) and watch the receiving end of that message. It will happy quickly and will only happen once.

Effects for Standard Messages

The following standard messages will automatically add a special effect:

Messages Standard Special Effects

  • Happy Birthday adds Balloons to the message.
  • Happy New Year adds Fireworks
  • Congratulations or Congrats adds Confetti

It’s simple. Remember, these effects will only show to users of Apple devices.

Send an Text Message with Custom Flair

There are more! You can send messages with bubble effects, full-page effects, tapback expression responses and handwritten notes.

If you just want to experiment and discover on your own, try these steps:

  1. Open Messages.
  2. Tap to create a new message to a contact or choose an existing conversation.
  3. Enter your text in the message box then touch and hold Send. send message.  (You have to press and hold the send icon)

Press and Hold Send to get two sets of flair options

  1. You will have these choices:

Bubble: On the Bubble tab, one of the gray dots to preview bubble effects like SLAM, GENTLE, etc. .

Screen: On the Screen tab, swipe left and right to see options like Balloons, Confetti and more.

  1. Tap Send send message

Respond to a message with Tapback expressions

With Tapback, you can reply to messages with expressions, like a thumbs up, haha or more. To reply to a message with a Tapback expression:

  1. Open a message you have received.
  2. Double-tap the message bubble or photo that you want to respond to.

    Tapback Messages

  3. Select the Tapback that you want to send.
  4. Tap Send.send message

Smart Tip: It’s OK to Show-off

There are some serious Senior show-off skills with these effects. Use this information to show off your iPhone texting skills to your children and friends. We love Senior Showoffs!



Send a handwritten message

Use a handwritten note to personalize a message. Use to add a special effect to a simple “Thanks.” When viewed, the Message app will animate the message. It is really cool.

To send a handwritten note:

  1. Open a message
  2. If you have an iPhone, turn it sideways in order to get an expanded keyboard on the screen. With the keyboard expanded tap on the lower right of the keyboard. If you have an iPad, the will be on the standard keyboard.

  1. Use your finger or a stylus to write your message or select one of the standard messages like Hello or Thank You. If you make a mistake, tap Undo to remove the last item you drew or wrote.

  1. Tap Send send message

The animation is only available in IOS version 10 or later. Earlier versions will simply get your handwritten note.

There are some fun items that you can add to your text messages and impress your friends and family. Try it. It’s fun!

Check for Understanding

Use the following questions to determine if you need to read or study this recipe.  You might already have an understanding of this topic. Following your study, answer the same questions to help you check your understanding of the skills taught in this lesson.

  1. Do you know which standard text messages will add custom animation or flair?
  2. Do you have the ability to add balloons, confettis, fireworks or more to any message.
  3. How can you send a text message with a handwritten note?

Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

iPhone User Guide – Messages App

Apple Support – Use message effects with iMessage on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Have a Question or a Comment?

You can type a question or comment about this lesson below.  This information is only seen by club members.  It is a safe place to ask your questions.

 Type your question or comment and tap SUBMIT COMMENT.


  1. Catherine

    Hey Don. Is it possible to use an ipencil to write a handwritten message on a phone? On an iPad?

    • Don Frederiksen

      Yes, Catherine,

      Great question!

      On an iPad that support the Apple Pencil, you can insert a handwritten drawing as a response. I’m not aware of any iPhone that supports the Apple Pencil but you could insert a handwritten drawing using your finger.

      Also, in my test with an iPad & Pencil, the default action was that my written text was converted to text. This uses the Scribble function on iPad. Here is a Apple Support YouTube Video on Scribble.

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