iOS 13: How to to customize your iMessage profile

iOS 13 lets you set a custom display name, photo, or Memoji that you can automatically send to contacts in Messages.

how to set a custom profile for imessage
Leif Johnson/IDG

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Beginning with iOS 13, you can automatically beam your preferred name and photo (or Memoji) to other iOS users when they chat with you in the Messages app—although they can choose whether to use them or not. Not only does this option let your friends and contacts see you as you want them to see you, but it also eradicates some of the more tedious steps of adding new people to your Contacts app.

Here’s how to do it.

How to set a custom name and photo through the Messages app

You can set this up straight through the Messages app, which is super convenient when you want to swap photos on the fly. You’ll have to do a little extra leg work for the first-time setup (which is what we’re focusing on here), but it’ll get a lot simpler afterward.

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Press the three dots for more options in the upper right.

  3. At the bottom of the interface, a button will pop up that says Edit Name and Photo. Press it.

  4. Another screen will pop up that says Share Your Name and Photo with Friends. At the bottom, press Choose Name and Photo.

  5. In the next menu, at last, you can actually choose your name and photo. First, fill out the two slots for your first and last names.

initial setup Leif Johnson/IDG

Once you settle on an initial image and name, you won’t see this interface again.

Here’s where you’ll have a few options. At the top, you’ll see big, circular icons for the different options, and you can scroll them from the right in order to see more. If you’ve already made a Memoji or set your own photo in the Contacts app, you’ll see those options first, followed by an option to simply use your initials. If you see something you like, press Continue. Once you’ve scrolled through all of these icons, you’ll see that one of the circles says “View More,” and you can use that to set Memoji (and Animoji), photos, and name slots all from the same interface. We’ve provided detailed walkthroughs for Memoji and Photos in the following two sections.

  1. A prompt will pop up that asks “Use This Photo Everywhere? Your Apple ID and My Card in Contacts will be updated with this photo.” Press Use.

  2. A screen will pop up that says “Choose Who You Share Your Name and Photo with.”

At this point, press Contacts Only if you only want to share this information with your mutual contacts. iOS will automatically send the name and photo to the contact the next time your message them.

Press Always Ask if you want iOS to ask you if it should send your updated name and photo to a contact. If you select this, the next time you send a message to a person after you’ve changed your information, you’ll see a menu at the top of the chat thread reading “Share your name and photo?”—along with a preview of your name and photo. Press the small Share prompt and iOS will immediately send them your information.

  1. Make your selection and press Done. That’s all!

How to use a Memoji or Animoji with your iMessage profile

If the thought of using a photo sounds too dull, iOS lets you use a Memoji or an Animoji for your profile instead. Note: You’ll need an iPhone with TrueDepth sensors (such as the iPhone X, XS, or 11 Pro). Already set up a Memoji through the normal process? You’re good to go, and you’ll see it during Step 3 as I described it above.

With iOS 13, though, you can also make a Memoji through the new profile interface. Here’s how. The following walkthrough assumes you’ve already set a profile with a photo above, as the steps are slightly different for return visits.

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Press the three dots in the upper right for more options.

  3. Press Edit Name and Photos.

  4. Press the Edit button under the circular image icon at the top.

how to add a custom imessage profile 1 Leif Johnson/IDG

These are the steps you’ll always have to take in order to make changes after the initial setup. 

If you’ve already made a Memoji, you should see it under Suggestions. Press it and jump to Step 5. But you can also make a new one by pressing the big plus sign under the Animoji heading and you can customize it through the interface that pops up. Want to use an Animoji instead? Just pick one of the 27 available options if you want your friends to see you as, say, a shark or an alien. Once you’ve chosen one of these, press Done.

  1. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll see a screen where you can use the TrueDepth sensors to pose your Memoji or Animoji as you wish. When you’re done, press the circular camera button at the bottom to take the photo.

  2. Press Choose in the lower right-hand corner.

  3. On the next screen, choose your favorite of eight different background colors. After you press one, the completed icon will show up under Suggestions in the main profile interface.

  4. Press the image you’d like to use.

  5. In the next menu, press Use in Messages.

  6. You’ll see a prompt asking “Use This Photo Everywhere?” Press Use.

  7. And you’re done!

how to add a custom imessage profile 2 Leif Johnson/IDG

I promise it’s a lot faster than it sounds.

How to use a photo for your iMessage profile

It’s super easy to use and swap out photos for your profile. Here’s how.

  1. Open Messages.

  2. Press the three dots in the upper right for more options.

  3. Press Edit Name and Photos.

  4. Press the Edit button under the circular image icon at the top.

  5. If you want to use an existing photo, press All Photos to the right side of the Suggestions heading in the new interface that pops up. You can choose your photos from there. If you want to take a new selfie, press the camera icon under Suggestions and you can take one. You can apply one of nine filters to each. Press Done in the upper right.

  6. You’ll see a prompt asking “Use This Photo Everywhere?” Press Use.

  7. And you’re done!

How to turn off (and edit) name and photo sharing

If you decide you no longer want iOS to send your name and photo to your contacts, it’s easy to turn off the feature.

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Press the three dots in the upper right for more options.

  3. Press Edit Name and Photo.

  4. Your existing profile will pop up. Toward the middle, you’ll see a toggle to turn off Name and Photo Sharing. If it’s green, switch it off. That’s all!

You can also use this memo to change your preferences as to whether you want to send changes to all your contacts or the Messages app should always ask for approval.

How to set your profile through the Settings app

Prefer the “long way”? You can also set up your custom name and photo through the Settings app. Open the Settings app, press Messages, and then press Share Name and Photo around halfway through the interface. You’ll see a profile screen where you can change your photo, your name, and set your preferences.

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