Messages is suggesting landline instead of mobile/cell numbers

Is there a way of setting the Apple Message app to only use mobile/cell numbers? It is such a nuisance to have typed up a message only to find that Apple Message app has selected the person’s landline number and not the person’s mobile/cell number. There is no way of then selecting the mobile/cell number once the attempt is made to send the message. It means starting all over again for such a simple matter. I’ve asked other Message users and find they are similarly irritated by this limitation.

I have looked but cannot find a reasonable solution. There’s no preference setting. The only suggestion from Apple is to select your intended caller in Contacts, long-tap the Message button to make the person’s cell phone number be the default. This suggestion is not necessarily convenient for making regular landline calls to particular people.

I am hoping someone in TidBits might have a solution.

Does that set the default number for all purposes? In other words, if you went through that same process but long-tapped instead on “call,” would that also change the default that you already set for “message”?

I had never heard of this ability to set/change a default until John Siracusa discussed it this week on Accidental Tech Podcast. You might want to listen to him discuss it, although now I can’t remember if he talks about the implications beyond sending messages.

I’m not seeing this in Messages on Big Sur . When I start typing a name to send a new message, I get a list of names, and when I select a name Messages then shows a contact phone or email, and – if you have more than one option for that contact – it shows a circled arrow at the right side pointing to the right. Click on the arrow and you get a drop-down list showing all the options in Contacts for that person. (e.g., mobile and work phones and a couple of email addresses). If you’re missing the arrow, you may have two entries for a person, one for the landline, one for the mobile.

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I’ve never experienced this, but I’m fastidious about labeling mobile numbers as “Cell” in the Contacts app. Perhaps that’s a factor.

Thank you. I do as you described. But I would like to have Messages preset only to take cell/mobile numbers without have to follow the arrow, deselect the landline number and so forth. The US may have a different system due to the way the cell companies are set up. But Australia with country-wide cell/mobile coverage no matter the provider, messages can only be sent to cell/mobile numbers and not to landline numbers. So I’d like a preference setting in Messages for it to use only cell/mobile numbers and save me the bother to make sure I am using the correct number. I’m fastidious about labelling mobile numbers as “iphone” or "mobile’ in my Contacts app for other reasons and so its not a factor in the way Messages keeps selecting landline numbers first.

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You’ll probably have to suggest that to apple because at this point the contacts and messaging app do not have that capability (e.g., they do not know which number is a landline just from the number or how you’ve labeled it). If you choose a landline number, it will try to send a message to that number.

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The US also is set up so only mobile phones can receive texts. I have encountered a few calling systems able to detect they are calling a landline which switch to text-to-speech to send the message. Although telephone exchanges (the first three numbers after the US area code) are set up as either mobile or landline, people can switch their old landline number to a mobile phone, which makes it hard to rely on that system. I can see the benefits for messaging of having a way to set up Messages to send only to mobiles even though I rarely use messages. However, I also will note that many callers and correspondents don’t specify if their numbers are mobile or landlines.

The VCard standard does have a “preferred” flag that can be added to a telephone number. iMessage does appear to make use of this in selecting the default.

However, as far as I can tell there is no easy way of setting this flag - the standard macOS and iOS Contacts clients don’t seem to support setting it (they seem to assign the flag to the first entry of a type).

I have been able to tweak this flag using vdirsyncer - hardly a friendly interface.

I’m really surprised iMessage doesn’t default to the mobile number. Why wouldn’t it do that? :flushed:

In most countries AFAIK your text will not be delivered to a landline and instead just end up going to /dev/null. :facepunch: