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By default, the Messages app in some iOS versions is set to shorten contacts’ names to show only their first names. This is done to keep things looking neat and tidy, and it also helps to avoid overlapping between the contact name and the navigation elements on iPhone screens, while avoiding name truncation. An obvious problem with this default setting arises if you have contacts who share first names, which is probably just about everyone.
Because “Bob Jones” message boxes look the same as “Bob McKowski” and both look like they belong to “Bob”, it becomes impossible to distinguish them from the message box itself (beyond reading the message content, from Class). That could potentially lead to an uncomfortable situation where you accidentally respond to the wrong text, or send something to the wrong person who happens to share a name. Fortunately, the occurrence of such a scenario is just a simple adjustment of the settings away, although it is a bit buried in the preferences.
How to Let messages display full names of contacts on iPhone and iPad
By adjusting a setting, Messages can display the full name of contacts in message threads:
- Open Settings and go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and scroll down to the “Contacts” section
- Select “Short name” and set “Short name” to OFF to display the full name of contacts
- Go back to Messages and open an individual thread to see the change
If you turn off Short Name, things will look like they did before iOS 7.
Please note that some full names won’t fit in the assigned title bar of the iOS Messages app and they can be handled up the names nevertheless truncate with a ‘…’ at an arbitrarily placed interval.
When displaying full names, the abbreviation varies depending on whether you have enabled bold text, the length of the name and also the size of the screen, with larger screen devices less affected than the smaller iPhone and iPod touch screens .
If you see a lot of name shortening, choose one of the settings based on initials, showing the first name and last initial can be a good compromise to avoid confusion and keep things looking neat too.
How to Change messages to display names with initials on iPhone and iPad
If you are experiencing truncation with the full name displayed, or if you prefer to have some cleanliness in the windows, you can use several Initial-based options instead:
- Open Settings and go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, scroll down to the “Contacts” section and return to “Short name”, then choose one of the following options:
- First name and last initial – good choice in the middle
- First initials and last name only
- First name only – the annoying default
- Last name only – OK if you’re on a soccer team
- If desired, set “Preferred Nicknames” to your preference
First name and last initials are also a good choice, as it eliminates messaging confusion in most situations, while still looking good in the Messages window. The screenshot below shows a message thread with the full first name and only the last initial:
Further down the Settings panel you will see that “Preferred Nicknames” is on by default, and it is a good choice to leave it on if you have configured nicknames for different contacts (moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, etc.). If you haven’t set up nicknames yet, you can do so from the Contacts app by editing a person’s contact information or by using Siri to ‘ nickname is And confirm the change with Siri.
If you never thought you’d find this yourself, don’t feel too bad, admittedly, it is strange that a setting for Messages is under the preferences for ‘Mail, contacts, calendars’ instead of the settings for’ Messages ‘but that’s where it is for now. Don’t be surprised if it gets reassigned to the message panels at some point in a future update. This change was first introduced in iOS 7 and carried over, so depending on when you have your iOS device and what software version is running on iPad or iPhone, the messages may appear differently.
Have you still mastered the iPhone and iPad? Don’t miss our many tips and tricks to understand things better.
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