In order to be able to run AirMessage properly, you will need:
- A smartphone or tablet running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higher
- A computer running OS X 10.10 Yosemite or higher (and a place for it to stay)
While AirMessage will still work on OS X 10.10+, it is recommended that you keep your computer as up-to-date as possible for the latest features. For example, only computers running macOS 10.12 Sierra or higher will receive tapback messages.
Installing the server
The server acts as a bridge between the AirMessage app and Apple's iMessage service, making it a crucial part of the experience. It is recommended that you leave the server running all the time, so that messages can be sent and received no matter where you are.
To get started, simply download the server onto your Mac computer and place it in the Applications folder.
If you are on macOS Mojave 10.14 or above, you will have to allow AirMessage to read your messages. Navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access and add AirMessage. AirMessage will not read any data other than your Messages data.
Upon launching the app, you will be greeted with this welcome message:
Open the preferences window and click "Edit Passwords…", and replace the default password with a password of your choosing. Remember, your messages are only as secure as the password you pick! Be sure to close the window to save your changes.
AirMessage Server works best when address book of the computer is empty
Configuring the connection
In order to ensure reliable usage of the app, a few things will need to be put in place first.
Port forwarding is a procedure that allows devices from outside your network to connect to devices inside your network. In this case, this would allow your smartphone to connect back to your computer at home, no matter where you are.
IP addresses will change from time to time, which will prevent AirMessage from connecting properly. To circumvent this, a dynamic DNS service tracks changes to your IP and updates reliant devices, making sure they're always able to make a connection. If you use your computer as any other kind of server, you may already be familiar with this.
Finding your local IP address
The local IP address of your computer is required for port forwarding. To find it, navigate to System Preferences > Network and select your network on the left. Your IP address should be shown on the details panel right. Take note of it, as you'll be needing it in the next step.
Configuring port forwarding
Port forwarding is a procedure that allows your router to identify and route connections to certain computers. In this case, it will allow your Android phone to connect to your computer.
How port forwarding is configured depends heavily on your router model, you can consult your router manual or check online for details. It'll generally follow something similar to this:
- Connect to your router's default gateway address. If you don't know what it is, you can find it by doing following:
- Wi-Fi: System Preferences > Network (Wi-Fi selected) > Advanced… > TCP/IP > Router:
- Ethernet: System Preferences > Network (Ethernet selected) > Router:
- Enter your credentials and log in to the router interface
- Navigate to port forwarding settings. It can sometimes be hidden under advanced settings.
- Create a new port forwarding entry with:
- Your server computer's local IP address (the one you found earlier)
- Your server's port, which is 1359 by default (if a range is required, put the same value as both the start and end range)
- Type TCP
Many network setups will change the local IP address of a computer from time to time, which will break any port forwarding instructions. You may need to assign your computer a static IP address in order to prevent this from happening.
Handling IP address changes
When your IP address changes, the AirMessage app will lose connection as it won't be able to connect to the server anymore. To fix this, a dynanic DNS provider tracks IP address changes to ensure that the app is always able to connect.
If you are running AirMessage on a laptop, all processes will be frozen when the lid is shut, or sometimes after being idle for a few hours. If you would like to turn your laptop into a stationary server, we recommend that you use a keep-awake utility such as InsomniaX, Amphetamine, or Caffeinate (built-in commmand).
Setting up the app
Now it's time to configure the Android app to connect to your server, allowing it to send and receive messages. To begin, make sure you have the app installed on your smartphone.
Open the app, and all that's left to do is enter your server's address and password. After connecting, you will be asked to sync your messages. This copies all of your messages from your computer to your phone for a seamless transition. It is recommended for all users.
Please note that on macOS Mojave 10.14 and above, the system will ask for permission to control Messages, when you try to send your first message from the app. You only need to grant this permission once.
Congratulations! You have reached the end of the setup guide. If you had any trouble following this guide, experienced any issues, or have a question, please feel free to send us a message.