Instant messaging has become a critical communication tool for many businesses. OS X’s Messages desktop integration, combined with iOS’ Messages app, makes Apple’s messaging platform a handy solution. But occasionally the application encounters issues or errors. Here are troubleshooting tips for common problems.

The first item to check, if instant messages aren’t being received on your Mac or iOS device, is whether the system is properly configured to send/receive messages.

Accounts must be configured for Messages to send and receive messages as users intend.

On a Mac, open Messages, click Messages and select Preferences, then click the Accounts button. Ensure that, within the You can be reached for messages at: section that the proper telephone numbers or email addresses are selected. Click the Add Email button to add an email address. If you need to add a new telephone number, from an iPhone, tap Settings, select Messages, tap Send & Receive, tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage and then sign in with your iTunes account.

On an iPhone, to confirm Messages is properly configured to send and receive messages, open Settings, click Messages and tap Send & Receive, ensuring the correct telephone numbers and email addresses are selected.

Within OS X, if conversation histories are not being saved when conversations are closed, open Messages, click Messages, select Preferences and, from the General screen, check the box for Save history when conversations are closed.

Messages Preferences enable fine-tuning instant messaging within OS X.

If the wrong IM program is responding in OS X, open Messages preferences as described above and confirm Messages is set as the default IM application.

Should you lose files that are being sent to you within instant messaging, open Messages preferences as described earlier and confirm the location where files are being saved within the Save received files to drop down menu. The Downloads folder is the default.

And while it should go without saying but will be mentioned here regardless, if you are unable to send or receive messages within OS X, confirm your Internet connection hasn’t failed. The network connection is, of course, required for instant messages to flow.

The same is true for blocked accounts. If you’re receiving messages from others but not one individual, in particular, you can check to see if the user was accidentally placed on the block list by opening Messages Preferences, clicking the Accounts button and clicking the Blocked tab and ensuring the individual’s number isn’t listed within blocked addresses. To remove an address or telephone number from the blocked list, just highlight the entry and click the – icon that appears beneath the window.

If you see a red exclamation point and the Not Delivered alert when attempting to send a message, tapping the red exclamation point prompts an iPhone to try sending the message again. A cellular (or WiFi) connection is required on an iOS device for the message’s successful transmission or receipt.

To confirm the methods available for sending the message, on an iPhone go to Settings, tap Messages and confirm iMessage is enabled and SMS and MMS are configured as you require. My car requires Send as SMS be enabled, for example, for Messages to integrate with my automobile’s audio system, which can narrate received messages and return one of several canned replies.

Should contacts see your email address instead of your telephone number when you send messages, Apple recommends correcting the configuration on an iPhone by going to Settings, selecting Messages, tapping Send & Receive, tapping your Apple ID and signing out. Next, Apple recommends signing out of FaceTime, too, by going to Settings and selecting FaceTime, tapping your Apple ID and signing out. Then, first from your iPhone, sign back in to Messages and then FaceTime. Then, other devices can be signed back into Messages.