Can the iPhone Send Pictures Through Text Messages?

By Tim Hesse

The iPhone can send pictures via MMS, email and third-party apps.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

Technically speaking, no phone can send pictures through text messages. Short message service (SMS), the standard for sending text messages, supports up to 160 characters of text only. To send pictures, videos and audio files phones use a different service based on SMS and called multimedia message service (MMS). The iPhone can send pictures through MMS, through email and through third-party apps that add functionality for other protocols including FTP, WebDAV and Bonjour.


Because SMS only supports text characters, you cannot send an image file through SMS.


2nd generation and later iPhones can send pictures via MMS. If you go to your camera roll in the Photos app, you can press the options icon, select multiple thumbnails, then select "MMS" from the Share menu. To send a single photo, open the image you'd like to send and select "MMS" from the Share menu. You can also send a new image or an image from your camera roll by pressing on the camera icon from within the Messages app. Sending an images via MMS will downsize it to 1024 by 768 pixels. If the recipient of your message does not have cellular service with MMS enabled, usually their carrier will host the image and send them an SMS containing a URL where they can access it via their phone's WAP browser. If you have trouble sending MMS messages, look at the "Messages" section of the Settings app and make sure the slider for MMS Messaging is switched on.


The iPhone can send a single image or multiple images in an email as well. To send a single photo, open the image you'd like to send and select "Email" from the Share menu. To send multiple images, go to your camera roll, press the options icon, select multiple thumbnails and choose "Email" from the Share menu. Using the email option on the Share menu downsizes the selected image or images to 800 by 600 pixels. If you want to send images at their full resolution, choose "Copy" instead of "Share," create a new email message and paste the images into it using the press-and-hold context menu.

Third-Party Apps

Various third-party apps available through the iTunes store enable the iPhone to send or transfer images using other protocols not native to iOS. Some of these apps allow the iPhone to upload files to a shared folder with a free file host in-the-cloud, like, Dropbox or MKSync for Syncplicity. Other apps make your iPhone into an FTP client capable of uploading photos directly to the remote server of your choice. Still others provide file transfer capabilities over Wi-Fi using Bonjour and Web-based distributed authoring and versioning (WebDAV).