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.

In iOS 14, Apple didn't add more English trigger words and phrases, but it did add more words and phrases that work with "22 Indian languages," including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

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, Bengali, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, and Urdu. 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 (balloons)
    عيد ميلاد سعيد  (happy birthday)

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

CHINESE VARIATIONS - 气球 / 的氣球 / 生日快樂 (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)

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

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

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

GREEK - μπαλόνια (balloons)
    xρόνια πολλά  (happy birthday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAI - ลูกโป่ง / บอลลูนส (balloons)
    สุขสันต์วันเกิด  (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).

ENGLISH - confetti
    happy Holi


ARBABIC - قصاصات ورقية (confetti)
    تهانينا  (congratulations)

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

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

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

CZECH - konfety (confetti)
    gratulujeme  (congratulations)

DANISH - konfetti (confetti)
    tillykke  (congratulations)

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

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

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

GREEK - κομφετί (confetti)
    συγχαρητήρια  (congratulations)

GUJARATI - કોન્ફેટી (confetti)
    અભિનંદન  (congratulations)

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

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

ITALIAN - coriandoli (confetti)
    congratulazioni  (congratulations)

JAPANESE - には紙ふぶき (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)

MARATHI - कन्फेटी (confetti)
    अभिनंदन  (congratulations)

POLISH - konfetti (confetti)
    gratulacje  (congratulations)

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

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

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

URDU - کنفیٹی (confetti)
    مبارک ہو  (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


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

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

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

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

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

GREEK - συγχαρητήρια (fireworks)
    καλή χρονιά  (happy new year)
    ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος  (happy new year)

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

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

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

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

JAPANESE - には花火 (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)

KOREAN - 폭죽 / 불꽃 (fireworks)
    새해 복 많이 받으세요  (happy new year)

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

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)

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

URDU - آتش بازی (fireworks)
    نیا سال مبارک ہو  (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


ARBABIC - احتفال (celebration)
    سنة صينية جديدة سعيدة  (happy chinese 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)

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 (celebration)
    ευτυχισμένο το κινέζικο νέο έτος  (happy chinese new year)
    ευτυχισμένο το σεληνιακό νέο έτος  (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)
    새해 복 많이 받으세요  (happy 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)

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)

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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