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 unexpectedly flooded 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 code words and phrases that trigger these effects automatically, I've compiled a massive list of all the hidden triggers I could find through research and trial and error — with different languages included.

In iOS 14 and iOS 15, Apple didn't add any more English trigger words and phrases to the current list of Easter eggs for iMessage effects. However, iOS 14 did add more words and phrases that work with "22 Indian languages," including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. That means that there are now over 230 hidden text strings to auto-play full-screen effects in your iMessage conversations!

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 six of these, each with some variations.

Even better, these trigger words work in multiple languages. I've included a few variations in English, Arabic, Bengali, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Malay, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese. And there are some additional notes and tips for using these trigger words in whatever language you choose:

  • I've only included words or phrases in lowercase letters for simplicity.
  • But I've also included variations with and without diacritics (accents).
  • I'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!
  • I tested emojis as stand-ins, but they never triggered anything.
  • Words and phrases with ||| after them have not been verified to work, but YMMV.
  • English is listed first for each effect; other languages are listed alphabetically.
  • Experiment with your language of choice to find alternatives.

I have not found any triggers in Bulgarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, or Slovenian.

1. Balloons

The Balloons effect can be prompted by wishing someone a Happy Birthday. You've probably seen this one many times by now just by giving birthday wishes to your family and friends.

ENGLISH - balloons
    happy birthday


ARABIC - بالونات (balloons)
    عيد ميلاد سعيد  (happy birthday)

BENGALI - বেলুন (balloons)
    শুভ জন্মদিন  (happy birthday)
    shubho jonmodin  (happy birthday)

CATALAN - bafarades (balloons)
    per molts anys  (happy birthday)

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 气球 / 的氣球 / 氣球 / 加上气球 / 氣球效果 (balloons)
    生日快乐  (happy birthday)
    生日快樂  (happy birthday)

CROATIAN - baloni (balloons)
    sretan rođendan  (happy birthday)

CZECH - balónky (balloons)
    vsechno nejlepsi k narozeninam  (happy birthday)
    všechno nejlepší k narozeninám  (happy birthday)

DANISH - balloner (balloons)
    tillykke med fødselsdagen  (happy birthday)

DUTCH - ballonnen (balloons)
    gelukkige verjaardag  (happy birthday)

ESTONIAN - õhupallid (balloons)
    palju onne sunnipaevaks  (happy birthday)   |||
    palju õnne sünnipäevaks  (happy birthday)   |||

FINNISH - ilmapallot (balloons)
    hyvää syntymäpäivää  (happy birthday)
    hyvaa syntymapaivaa  (happy birthday)

FRENCH - ballons (balloons)
    joyeux anniversaire  (happy birthday)

GERMAN - ballons (balloons)
    alles gute zum geburtstag  (happy birthday)
    herzlichen gluckwunsch zum geburtstag  (happy birthday)
    herzlichen glückwunsch zum geburtstag  (happy birthday)

GREEK - μπαλόνια / Μπαλόνια (balloons)
    χρόνια πολλά  (happy birthday)
    Χρόνια πολλά  (happy birthday)

HEBREW - בלונים (balloons)
    יום הולדת שמח  (happy birthday)

HINDI - गुब्बारे (balloons)
    जन्मदिन मुबारक  (happy birthday)

HUNGARIAN - lufik (balloons)
    boldog szuletesnapot  (happy birthday)
    boldog születésnapot  (happy birthday)

INDONESIAN - balon (balloons)
    selamat ulang tahun  (happy birthday)

ITALIAN - palloncini (balloons)
    buon compleanno  (happy birthday)

JAPANESE - 風船 (balloons)
    誕生日おめでとう  (happy birthday)

KOREAN - 풍선 (balloons)
    생일 축하합니다  (happy birthday)

MALAY - belon (balloons)
    selamat hari lahir  (happy birthday)

MARATHI - फुगे (balloons)
    वाढदिवसाच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा  (happy birthday)

NORWEGIAN - ballonger (balloons)
    gratulerer med dagen  (happy birthday)

POLISH - balony (balloons)
    wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin  (happy birthday)

PORTUGUESE - balões (balloons)
    feliz aniversario  (happy birthday)
    feliz aniversário  (happy birthday)

ROMANIAN - baloane (balloons)
    la mulți ani  (happy birthday)
    la multi ani  (happy birthday)

RUSSIAN - шарики (balloons)
    с днем рождения  (happy birthday)

SLOVAK - balóny (balloons)
    všetko najlepšie  (best wishes)   |||
    vsetko najlepsie  (best wishes)   |||

SPANISH - globos (balloons)
    feliz cumpleanos  (happy birthday)
    feliz cumpleaños  (happy birthday)

SWEDISH - ballonger (balloons)
    grattis på födelsedagen  (happy birthday)
    grattis pa fodelsedagen  (happy birthday)

THAI - ลูกโป่ง / บอลลูนส (balloons)
    สุขสันต์วันเกิด  (happy birthday)

TURKISH - balonları (balloons)
    doğum günün kutlu olsun  (happy birthday)
    dogum gunun kutlu olsun  (happy birthday)
    İyi ki doğdun  (happy birthday)
    iyi ki dogdun  (happy birthday)

UKRANIAN - кульки / повітряні кулі (balloons)
    з днем народження  (happy birthday)

VIETNAMESE - bóng bay (balloons)
    chuc mung sinh nhat  (happy birthday)
    chúc mừng sinh nhật  (happy birthday)

2. Confetti

The Confetti effect appears when you congratulate someone or wish someone a Happy Holi (a Hindu spring festival in honor of Krishna). You could also trigger it with the code phrase Best Wishes.

ENGLISH - confetti
    happy holi
    best wishes


ARABIC - قصاصات ورقية (confetti)
    تهانينا  (congratulations)

BENGALI - কনফেটি (confetti)
    শুভ হোলি  (happy holi)

CATALAN - confeti (confetti)
    felicitats  (congratulations)
    Felicitats  (congrats)

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 五彩纸屑 / 的五彩碎紙 / 五彩碎紙 / 彩碎紙 / 七彩紙碎 / 七彩紙碎效果 / 加上五彩纸屑 (confetti)
    恭喜  (congratulations)
    祝賀  (congratulations)   |||

CROATIAN - konfeti (confetti)
    cestitke  (congratulations)   |||
    čestitke  (congratulations)   |||

CZECH - konfety (confetti)
    gratulujeme  (congratulations)

DANISH - konfetti (confetti)
    tillykke  (congratulations)

DUTCH - confetti (confetti)
    gefeliciteerd  (congratulations)
    proficiat  (congrats)

ESTONIAN - konfetid (confetti)
    onnitlused  (congratulations)   |||
    õnnitlused  (congratulations)   |||

FINNISH - konfetti (confetti)
    Onnittelut  (congratulations)
    onnittelut  (congrats)
    onneksi olkoon  (congratulations)   |||

FRENCH - confettis (confetti)
    felicitations  (congratulations)
    félicitations  (congratulations)

GERMAN - konfetti (confetti)
    herzlichen gluckwunsch  (congratulations)
    herzlichen glückwunsch  (congratulations)

GREEK - κομφετί / Κομφετί (confetti)
    συγχαρητήρια  (congratulations)
    Συγχαρητήρια  (congratulations)

GUJARATI - કોન્ફેટી (confetti)
    અભિનંદન  (congratulations)

HEBREW - פְּתִיתֵי נִיָר סַסגוֹנִיִם (confetti)
    מזל טוב  (mazel tov)

HINDI - कंफ़ेद्दी (confetti)
    बधाई हो  (congratulations)
    बधाई  (congratulations)
    होली मुबारक  (happy holi)

HUNGARIAN - konfetti (confetti)
    gratulalunk  (congratulations)
    gratulálunk  (congratulations)

INDONESIAN - confetti (confetti)
    selamat  (congrats)
    Selamat  (congratulations)

ITALIAN - coriandoli (confetti)
    congratulazioni  (congratulations)

JAPANESE - 紙ふぶき (confetti)
    おめでとうございます  (congratulations)

KANNADA - ಕಾನ್ಫೆಟ್ಟಿ (confetti)
    ಅಭಿನಂದನೆಗಳು  (congratulations)

KOREAN - 축하 꽃종이 / 색종이 조각 (confetti)
    축하합니다  (congratulations)
    축하해  (congrats)

MALAY - konfeti (confetti)
    tahniah  (congratulations)

MARATHI - कन्फेटी (confetti)
    अभिनंदन  (congratulations)

NORWEGIAN - konfetti (confetti)
    gratulerer  (congratulations)

POLISH - konfetti (confetti)
    gratulacje  (congratulations)

PORTUGUESE - confete (confetti)
    parabens  (congratulations)
    parabéns  (congratulations)

ROMANIAN - confetti (confetti)
    Felicitări  (congratulations)
    felicitari  (congrats)

RUSSIAN - конфетти (confetti)
    поздравляю  (congratulations)

SLOVAK - konfety (confetti)
    blahoželám  (congratulations)   |||
    blahozelam  (congratulations)   |||

SPANISH - confeti (confetti)
    felicidades  (congratulations)
    enhorabuena  (congratulations)
    felicitaciones  (congratulations)

SWEDISH - konfetti (confetti)
    Grattis  (congratulations)
    grattis  (congrats)

THAI - กระดาษโปรย / ลูกปา (confetti)
    ขอแสดงความยินดีด้วย  (congratulations)

TURKISH - konfetiler (confetti)
    Tebrikler  (congratulations)
    tebrikler  (congrats)

UKRANIAN - конфеті (confetti)
    вітаю  (congratulations)

URDU - کنفیٹی (confetti)
    مبارک ہو  (congratulations)

VIETNAMESE - hoa giấy (confetti)
    chuc mung  (congrats)
    chúc mừng  (congrats)
    xin chuc mung  (congratulations)
    xin chúc mừng  (congratulations)

3. Fireworks

The Fireworks effect can be triggered by wishing someone a Happy New Year or Happy Diwali (a Hindu festival of lights). However, in some regions, using a Happy New Year saying will trigger the Celebration effect (see the next section).

ENGLISH - fireworks
    happy new year
    happy diwali
    happy deepavali
    happy deepawali


ARABIC - ألعاب نارية (fireworks)
    سنة جديدة سعيدة  (happy new year)   |||
    سنه جديده سعيده  (happy new year)   |||

CATALAN - focs artificials (fireworks)
    bon any nou  (happy new year)   |||

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 烟花 / 上烟火 / 的煙火 / 煙火 / 煙花 / 煙花效果 / 加上烟火 (fireworks)
    新年快乐  (happy new year)
    新年快樂  (happy new year)
    新年好  (happy new year)
    过年好  (happy new year)
    恭喜发财  (happy new year)

CROATIAN - vatromet (fireworks)
    sretna nova godina  (happy new year)

CZECH - ohňostroj (fireworks)
    stastny novy rok  (happy new year)
    šťastný nový rok  (happy new year)

DANISH - fyrværkeri (fireworks)
    godt nytar  (happy new year)
    godt nytår  (happy new year)

DUTCH - vuurwerk (fireworks)
    gelukkig nieuwjaar  (happy new year)

ESTONIAN - ilutulestiku (fireworks)
    head uut aastat  (happy new year)   |||

FINNISH - ilotulitus (fireworks)
    hyvää uutta vuotta  (happy new year)
    hyvaa uutta vuotta  (happy new year)

FRENCH - feux d’artifice (fireworks)
    bonne annee  (happy new year)
    bonne année  (happy new year)

GERMAN - feuerwerk (fireworks)
    frohes neues jahr  (happy new year)

GREEK - πυροτεχνήματα / Πυροτεχνήματα (fireworks)
    καλή χρονιά  (happy new year)
    Καλή χρονιά  (happy new year)
    ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος  (happy new year)
    Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος  (happy new year)

GUJARATI - ફટાકડા (fireworks)
    દિવાળીની શુભકામના  (happy diwali)

HEBREW - פְּזיקוקין (fireworks)
    שנה טובה  (happy new year)

HINDI - आतिशबाजी (fireworks)
    शुभ दीवाली  (happy diwali)

HUNGARIAN - tűzijáték (fireworks)
    boldog uj evet  (happy new year)
    boldog új évet  (happy new year)

INDONESIAN - kembang api (fireworks)
    selamat tahun baru  (happy new year)

ITALIAN - fuochi d'artificio (fireworks)
    buon anno  (happy new year)

JAPANESE - 花火 (fireworks)
    あけましておめでとうございます  (happy new year)
    あけおめ  (happy new year)
    あけましておめでとう  (happy new year)
    謹賀新年  (happy new year)

MALAY - bunga api (fireworks)
    selamat tahun baru  (happy new year)

MARATHI - फटाके (fireworks)
    दिवाळीच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा  (happy diwali)
    शुभ दिपावली  (happy diwali)

NORWEGIAN - fyrverkeri (fireworks)
    godt nytt år  (happy new year)

POLISH - sztuczne ognie (fireworks)
    szczesliwego nowego roku  (happy new year)
    szczęśliwego nowego roku  (happy new year)

PORTUGUESE - ogo de artifício (fireworks)
    feliz ano novo  (happy new year)

ROMANIAN - artificii (fireworks)
    un an nou fericit  (happy new year)

RUSSIAN - фейерверк (fireworks)
    с новым годом  (happy new year)

SLOVAK - ohňostroj (fireworks)
    šťastný nový rok  (happy new year)
    stastny novy rok  (happy new year)

SPANISH - fuegos artificiales (fireworks)
    feliz ano nuevo  (happy new year)
    feliz año nuevo  (happy new year)

SWEDISH - fyrverkerier (fireworks)
    gott nytt år  (happy new year / happy lunar new year)
    gott nytt ar  (happy new year / happy lunar new year)

TAMIL - வானவேடிக்கை (fireworks)
    புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள்  (happy new year)
    இனிய தீபாவளி வாழ்த்துக்கள்  (happy diwali)

TELUGU - బాణసంచా (fireworks)
    దీపావళి శుభాకాంక్షలు  (happy diwali)

THAI - ดอกไม้ไฟ (fireworks)
    สวัสดีปีใหม่  (happy new year)

TURKISH - havai fişekler (fireworks)
    yeni yılın kutlu olsun  (happy new year)   |||

UKRANIAN - феєрверк / Феєрверк (fireworks)
    з новим роком  (happy new year)

URDU - آتش بازی (fireworks)
    نیا سال مبارک ہو  (happy new year)

VIETNAMESE - pháo hoa (fireworks)
    chuc mung nam moi  (happy new year)
    chúc mừng năm mới  (happy new year)

4. Celebration

Similarly, the Celebration effect appears when you wish someone a Happy Chinese New Year or Happy Lunar New Year. In some regions, just wishing a Happy New Year will trigger Celebration instead of Fireworks (see the previous section).

ENGLISH - celebration
    happy chinese new year
    happy lunar new year


ARABIC - احتفال (celebration)
    سنة صينية جديدة سعيدة  (happy chinese new year)

CATALAN - celebració (celebration)
    feliç any nou xinès  (happy chinese new year)
    feliç any nou lunar  (happy lunar new year)

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 庆典 (celebration)
    春节快乐  (happy new year)
    农历新年快乐  (happy chinese new year)

CROATIAN - proslava (celebration)
    sretna kineska nova godina  (happy chinese new year)
    sretna lunarna nova godina  (happy chinese new year)

CZECH - oslava (celebration)
    stastny cinsky novy rok  (happy chinese new year)
    šťastný čínský nový rok  (happy chinese new year)
    stastny lunarni novy rok  (happy lunar new year)
    šťastný lunární nový rok  (happy lunar new year)

DANISH - fest (celebration)
    godt kinesisk nytar  (happy chinese new year)
    godt kinesisk nytår  (happy chinese new year)

DUTCH - viering (celebration)
    gelukkig chinees nieuwjaar  (happy chinese new year)

ESTONIAN - pidu (celebration)
    head hiina uut aastat  (happy chinese new year)   |||
    onnelik uus aasta  (happy new year)   |||
    õnnelik uus aasta  (happy new year)   |||

FRENCH - la fête / célébration (celebration)
    joyeux nouvel an chinois  (happy chinese new year)

GREEK - εορτασμός / Εορτασμός (celebration)
    ευτυχισμένο το κινέζικο νέο έτος  (happy chinese new year)
    Ευτυχισμένο το κινέζικο νέο έτος  (happy chinese new year)
    ευτυχισμένο το σεληνιακό νέο έτος  (happy lunar new year)
    Ευτυχισμένο το σεληνιακό νέο έτος  (happy lunar new year)

HUNGARIAN - ünneplés (celebration)
    boldog holdujevet  (happy lunar new year)
    boldog holdújévet  (happy lunar new year)

INDONESIAN - perayaan (celebration)
    selamat tahun baru cina  (happy chinese new year)

ITALIAN - celebrazione (celebration)
    buon capodanno cinese  (happy chinese new year)

JAPANESE - お祝い (celebration)
    旧正月おめでとう  (happy new year)
    明けましておめでとうございます  (happy new year)
    旧正月明けましておめでとうございます  (happy chinese new year)
    旧正月、明けましておめでとうございます  (happy chinese new year)
    春節おめでとう  (congratulations on chinese new year)
    旧正月おめでとうございます  (congratulations on chinese new year)

KOREAN - 축하 (celebration) / 폭죽 (fireworks)
    새해 복 많이 받으세요  (happy new year / happy chinese new year / happy lunar new year)

POLISH - uroczystość (celebration)
    szczesliwego chinskiego nowego roku  (happy chinese new year)
    szczęśliwego chińskiego nowego roku  (happy chinese new year)
    szczesliwego ksiezycowego nowego roku  (happy lunar new year)
    szczęśliwego księżycowego nowego roku  (happy lunar new year)

PORTUGUESE - celebração (celebration)
    feliz ano novo chines  (happy chinese new year)
    feliz ano novo chinês  (happy chinese new year)
    feliz ano novo lunar  (happy lunar new year)

SLOVAK - oslava (celebration)
    šťastný lunárny nový rok  (happy lunar new year)
    stastny lunarny novy rok  (happy lunar new year)

SPANISH - celebracion (celebration)
    feliz ano nuevo chino  (happy chinese new year)
    feliz año nuevo chino  (happy chinese new year)
    feliz ano nuevo lunar  (happy lunar new year)
    feliz año nuevo lunar  (happy lunar new year)

THAI - งานเฉลิมฉลอง (celebration)
    สุขสันต์วันตรุษจีน  (happy chinese new year)

UKRANIAN - святкування (celebration)
    з місячним новим роком  (happy lunar new year)

5. Lasers

Many of the above keywords and phrases are fairly obvious or at least likely to be discovered accidentally when wishing someone a Happy Birthday or Happy New Year. But there are other code words and phrases that hide better. One such code phrase is Pew Pew, which unlocks the Laser effect.

Unlike the other effects above, "pew pew" is the only code phrase that works for all languages. There are no translations of the onomatopoetic "pew pew" that will trigger anything, and that's not surprising. The phrase is a phonetic representation of laser guns and real guns (usually real guns with silencers).

ENGLISH - lasers
    pew pew

6. Shooting Star

For some strange reason, Apple removed the Shooting Star effect starting in iOS 14, so if you're running iOS 14 or later on your iPhone, you won't see it in the normal effects menu. However, that doesn't mean you still can't use it — you just need to know the secret code phrase.

Sending someone Eid Mubarak will trigger the Shooting Star effect. The phrase is an Arabic term meaning "blessed festival" or "blessed feast" that Muslims worldwide use as a greeting for the festivals of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. Happy Eid will also work.

ENGLISH - shooting star
    eid mubarak
    happy eid

(Both phrases are used as greetings by Muslims in various languages.)

Manually Sending iMessage Effects

No term to prompt the effect you're looking for? That's OK — 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 just like they could when receiving a trigger word or phrase.

What's the difference between bubble effects and screen effects? Bubble effects affect the individual text bubble for that message. As the name suggests, screen effects affect the entire screen when used. Unlike bubble effects, screen effects have additional sounds and haptic responses. It's a great touch but one you want to know if texting in a quiet room.

Additionally, while you can trigger some of the screen effects with a keyword or phrase, all bubble effects need to be sent manually — there are no codes that will work for them.

For both bubble and screen effects, you can manually launch them by long-pressing the send button (upward arrow). You can toggle between "Bubble" and "Screen" at the top of the "Send with effect" page. Here, you can send your message with the following bubble effects:

  • Slam
  • Loud
  • Gentle
  • Invisible ink

As for all of the available screen effects, there are:

  • Echo (no known triggers)
  • Spotlight (no known triggers)
  • Balloons (see above triggers)
  • Confetti (see above triggers)
  • Love (no known triggers)
  • Lasers (see above trigger)
  • Fireworks (see above triggers)
  • Shooting Star (iOS 14 removed it from the menu; see above triggers)
  • Celebration (see above triggers)

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 and phrases 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.

Interesting Stats:

  • There are currently 40 languages listed above that can use at least one codeword or code phrase to trigger iMessage full-screen effects.
  • There are currently 53 different ways listed above to type out "happy birthday" in various languages to trigger the Balloons full-screen effect.
  • There are currently 67 different ways listed above to type out in various languages what's needed to trigger the Confetti full-screen effect.
  • There are currently 63 different ways listed above to type out in various languages what's needed to trigger the Fireworks full-screen effect.
  • There are currently 50 different ways listed above to type out in various languages what's needed to trigger the Celebration full-screen effect.
  • There is currently only one trigger for the Lasers full-screen effect.
  • There are currently only two triggers for the Shooting Star full-screen effect.
  • There are zero triggers known for the Echo and Spotlight full-screen effects.
  • There are 236 triggers listed above.

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Cover image by Juliette Sebock/Gadget Hacks; Screenshots and GIFs Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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