How to use the quick responses on your iPhone

When someone is calling, your iPhone displays the screen where you Accept or Decline the call. However, there are times when you want to answer the phone call, but you can't for various reasons, like when you are in a business meeting. In such situations, you can choose to Respond with Text, which is another way of saying that you can send a quick message response to let the caller know that you can't talk right now. If you want to learn how to Respond with Text when someone's calling you, as well as how to change the quick response messages on your iPhone, read this tutorial:

NOTE: We wrote this guide using an iPhone SE that was running on iOS 13.3.1. If you are using a different iPhone model or iOS version, our screenshots might be slightly different from what you see on your screen. However, all the steps involved are similar.

How to use the "Respond with Text" messages on an iPhone

When you get a phone call, and you can't answer it right away, you can Respond with Text. To do that, on the phone call screen shown by your iPhone, tap Message instead of Accept or Decline.

Choosing to Respond with Text by tapping on Message on the incoming call screen

You can do the same even if your iPhone is locked: instead of "slide to answer," tap Message.

Choosing to Respond with Text by tapping on Message when the iPhone is locked

Your iPhone displays the list of quick responses available. By default, the Respond with Text messages found on iPhones are: "Sorry, I can't talk right now.", "I'm on my way." and "Can I call you later?". If any of them matches what you want to tell your caller, tap on it. As soon as you do that, your iPhone rejects the phone call and automatically sends the quick response message that you've selected.

Respond to an incoming call with a quick response, on an iPhone

iPhones also include a Custom option in the list of Respond with Text quick messages. Although it's not a quick response message per se, it can be useful. If none of the predefined responses is what you want to send to your caller, tap Custom and then type the message that you want to send.

For example, in the screenshot below, you can see an SMS that we chose to send to someone who called, but we didn't know who it was: "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name… & I can't remember your name! So… text me maybe!?".

Quick response with a custom text message on an iPhone

Note that the Custom message is not saved in your list of Respond with Text messages. It is just a one-time option. If you want to make it a permanent option available in your iPhone's quick responses, you can learn how to do it in the next section of this tutorial.

How to change the quick response messages on an iPhone

What if none of the default iPhone quick responses is what you want? In that case, you might want to create your own custom Respond with Text messages. Here's how:

On your iPhone's home screens, find and tap on the Settings app.

The Settings app from an iPhone

Scroll through the available Settings on your iPhone and tap on Phone.

The Phone settings from an iPhone

On the Phone screen, tap the Respond with Text entry.

The Respond with Text entry from an iPhone's Settings

This brings you to the Respond with Text screen, where you see the list of quick responses available on your iPhone. At the end of the list, Apple tells you what they are and what they do: "These quick responses will be available when you respond to an incoming call with a text. Change them to say anything you like."

Note that you can't add new Respond with Text messages, as iOS doesn't allow that: you can only customize one of the three default quick responses.

The default Respond with Text quick messages

To change one of the Respond with Text messages on your iPhone, tap on it and then type the quick response you prefer. For example, instead of the default "Sorry, I can't talk right now." message, I prefer a quick response such as the one in the next screenshot: "Hey, love u2… but later! ;)". Don't hold it against me - I just find it funny! :)

Changing a Respond with Text message on an iPhone

If you've personalized any of the quick responses from your iPhone, each time you get an incoming phone call and choose to Respond with Text, the custom quick response(s) becomes an option you can select.

Custom Respond with Text message on an iPhone

That's it! Now you know how to set up quick responses for incoming phone calls on your iPhone.

P.S. In case you're wondering whether Android is better or worse than iPhones regarding the quick responses, you should know that both mobile platforms are almost identical. The only thing that differs between them is that Android comes with 4 (four) quick responses, while iPhones have only three Respond with Text messages.

Which are the funniest "Respond with Text" messages you've seen on an iPhone?

It is easy to answer phone calls on your iPhone with quick responses. It's also easy to change the default Respond with Text messages, although it's a pity that you cannot add new ones. Before leaving, would you mind sharing some of the funniest Respond with Text messages you've received or sent on your iPhone? We know you're creative, and we would love to have a laugh! :)