How To: Trigger iMessage Effects with Just a Keyword

Trigger iMessage Effects with Just a Keyword

One of the coolest aesthetic features of iMessage is its animated message effects. If you're like many users, you might even have discovered them by accident, where wishing your friend a "Happy Birthday!" or congratulating them on a promotion suddenly floods your screen with balloons or confetti.

Apple's iMessage effects first appeared in iOS 10 and still work perfectly in the most current iOS versions. While Apple has only formally mentioned a few of the words and phrases that trigger these effects automatically, we've compiled a list of all those we could find — with different languages included.

Triggering iMessage Effects

To use these iMessage effects, you'll need to create a message with another iPhone user. Effects will still show animations on your end while texting your green-bubbled Android friends, but they won't be able to see it themselves. If you don't have a friend with an iPhone to test effects out on, you can try it by messaging yourself.

In a few cases, a simple trigger word or phrase will apply the screen effect automatically. While Apple hasn't included all of these in its official list, some Googling and trial and error confirms four of these, each with some variations.

Even better, these trigger words work in multiple languages. We've included a few variations in English, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai. And there are some additional notes and tips for using these trigger words in whatever language you choose:

  • We've only included words or phrases in lowercase letters for simplicity.
  • But we've also included variations with and without diacritics (accents).
  • We've included the translation for the effect next to each language name.
  • All of the below should work when using some or all capital letters.
  • All of the below should work when adding punctuation before or after.
  • In Spanish, you can contain the word or phrase within ¡ ! marks (inverted and regular exclamation points) to add extra emphasis. For example, ¡feliz cumpleanos!
  • We tested emojis as stand-ins, but they never triggered anything.
  • Words and phrases with ||| after them have not been verified to work.
  • English is listed first for each effect; other languages are listed alphabetically.
  • Experiment with your language of choice to find alternatives.

1. Balloons

The Balloons effect can be prompted by wishing someone a happy birthday.

ENGLISH - balloons
    happy birthday


ARBABIC - بالونات
    عيد ميلاد سعيد

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 气球 / 的氣球 / 生日快樂

CROATIAN - baloni
    sretan rođendan

CZECH - balónky
    vsechno nejlepsi k narozeninam
    všechno nejlepší k narozeninám

DANISH - balloner
    tillykke med fødselsdagen

ESTONIAN - õhupallid
    palju onne sunnipaevaks   |||
    palju õnne sünnipäevaks   |||

FRENCH - ballons
    joyeux anniversaire

GERMAN - ballons für
    alles gute zum geburtstag
    herzlichen gluckwunsch zum geburtstag
    herzlichen glückwunsch zum geburtstag

GREEK - μπαλόνια
    xρόνια πολλά

    selamat ulang tahun

ITALIAN - palloncini
    buon compleanno


    생일 축하합니다

POLISH - balony
    wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin

    feliz aniversario
    feliz aniversário

SPANISH - globos
    feliz cumpleanos
    feliz cumpleaños

THAI - ลูกโป่ง / บอลลูนส

2. Confetti

The Confetti effect appears when you congratulate someone.

ENGLISH - confetti


ARBABIC - قصاصات ورقية

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 五彩纸屑 / 的五彩碎紙 / 七彩紙碎
    祝賀   |||

CROATIAN - konfeti
    cestitke   |||
    čestitke   |||

CZECH - konfety

DANISH - konfetti

ESTONIAN - konfetid
    onnitlused   |||
    õnnitlused   |||

FRENCH - confettis

GERMAN - konfetti für
    herzlichen gluckwunsch
    herzlichen glückwunsch

GREEK - κομφετί

INDONESIAN - confetti

ITALIAN - coriandoli

JAPANESE - には紙ふぶき

KOREAN - 축하 꽃종이 / 색종이 조각

POLISH - konfetti

PORTUGUESE - confete

SPANISH - confeti

THAI - กระดาษโปรย / ลูกปา

3. Fireworks

The Fireworks effect can be triggered by wishing someone a happy new year.

ENGLISH - fireworks
    happy new year


ARBABIC - ألعاب نارية
    سنة جديدة سعيدة   |||

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 烟花 / 上烟火 / 的煙火 / 煙花

CROATIAN - vatromet
    sretna nova godina

CZECH - ohňostroj
    stastny novy rok
    šťastný nový rok

DANISH - fyrværkeri
    godt nytar
    godt nytår

ESTONIAN - ilutulestiku
    head uut aastat   |||

FRENCH - feux d’artifice
    bonne annee
    bonne année

GERMAN - feuerwerk für
    frohes neues jahr

GREEK - συγχαρητήρια
    καλή χρονιά
    ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος

INDONESIAN - kembang api
    selamat tahun baru

ITALIAN - fuochi d'artificio
    buon anno


KOREAN - 폭죽 / 불꽃
    새해 복 많이 받으세요

POLISH - sztuczne ognie
    szczesliwego nowego roku
    szczęśliwego nowego roku

PORTUGUESE - ogo de artifício
    feliz ano novo

SPANISH - fuegos artificiales
    feliz ano nuevo
    feliz año nuevo

THAI - ดอกไม้ไฟ

4. Celebration

Similarly, the Celebration effect appears when you wish someone a happy Chinese New Year.

ENGLISH - celebration
    happy chinese new year
    happy lunar new year


ARBABIC - احتفال
    سنة صينية جديدة سعيدة


CROATIAN - proslava
    sretna kineska nova godina
    sretna lunarna nova godina

CZECH - oslava
stastny cinsky novy rok
šťastný čínský nový rok
stastny lunarni novy rok
šťastný lunární nový rok

DANISH - fest
    godt kinesisk nytar
    godt kinesisk nytår

    head hiina uut aastat   |||
    onnelik kuu uus aasta   |||
    õnnelik kuu uus aasta   |||

FRENCH - la fête / célébration
    joyeux nouvel an chinois

GREEK - εορτασμός
    ευτυχισμένο το κινέζικο νέο έτος
    ευτυχισμένο το σεληνιακό νέο έτος

INDONESIAN - perayaan
    selamat tahun baru cina

ITALIAN - celebrazione
    buon capodanno cinese


    새해 복 많이 받으세요

POLISH - uroczystość
    szczesliwego chinskiego nowego roku
    szczęśliwego chińskiego nowego roku
    szczesliwego ksiezycowego nowego roku
    szczęśliwego księżycowego nowego roku

PORTUGUESE - celebração
    feliz ano novo chines
    feliz ano novo chinês
    feliz ano novo lunar

SPANISH - celebracion
    feliz ano nuevo chino
    feliz año nuevo chino
    feliz ano nuevo lunar
    feliz año nuevo lunar

THAI - งานเฉลิมฉลอง

Manually Sending iMessage Effects

No term to prompt the effect you're looking for? That's okay — it's easy enough to use bubble or full-screen effects manually. When manually triggering the effect, your recipient will even be able to replay the effect, an option that isn't available when a keyword is used.

What's the difference between bubble effects and screen effects? Bubble effects affect the individual text bubble for that message. Screen effects, as the name suggests, affects the full screen when used. Note that unlike bubble effects, screen effects have additional sounds and haptic responses. It's a great touch, but one you want to be aware of if texting in a quiet room.

Additionally, while at least some of the screen effects can be triggered with a keyword, bubble effects need to be sent manually.

For both bubble and screen effects, you can manually launch them by long-pressing the send button (upward arrow). At the top of the "Send with effect" screen, you can toggle between bubble and screen. Here, you can send your message with the bubble effects (as of iOS 13: slam, loud, gentle, and invisible ink) or screen effects (the four above as well as echo, spotlight, love, lasers, and shooting star).

Apple's iMessage effects are a great way to add a little fun to your message and trigger words make it super easy to use some of the most popular animations. Perhaps there will be more of these trigger words in a future iOS update, but for now, we'll be sending all of our iPhone-having friends a festive effect whenever there's something to celebrate.

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Cover image and GIFs by Juliette Sebock/Gadget Hacks

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