Here’s what a box with an x means when texting:
The box with an x in it is telling you that your phone’s keyboard cannot display a graphic that was sent to you.
In most cases, this is due to various compatibility issues that arise when sending images from one type of keyboard to another.
To resolve it, both users need to use the same type of digital keyboard.
So if you want to learn all about what it means when you see a box with an x when texting, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right into it!
What Does the Box With an X Look Like When Texting?
Let’s make sure everyone is on the same page.
You Googled this because you’re trying to figure out what it is that you’re seeing, so let’s talk about that first.
There are countless numbers of things that this could potentially describe, but when you’re talking about text messaging on phones, there’s a specific graphic that sometimes shows up.
There are a few variations to it, but in most cases, it’s a box with an “x” in it.
More specifically, there is a rectangle that is usually formed by a narrow colored outline.
More often than not, this outline is black, but it could be blue or other colors too.
The “x” is usually in the corner of the graphic, and it’s usually much smaller than the box itself.
Typically, the x is red, but again, variations are possible.
Also, the location of the x can move around.
What Does the Box With an X Mean When Texting?
This specific image that you might see when texting is trying to deliver a message to you as a user.
It’s telling you that your phone cannot display the intended image.
I’ll go through a detailed list of things that can trigger this warning, but the idea is always the same.
In almost every case, your phone can’t display the image because of a compatibility problem.
You see, phone keyboards are made from specialized software, and while developers have worked to make a lot of things universal, there are images that can be sent from one phone to another that aren’t universal.
As an easy example, you have emojis on phone keyboards that are unique to either iOS or Android.
If you try to send those emojis back and forth from iPhone to Android (or the other way around), then you’re likely to see this error.
It’s not telling you that your phone is broken.
It’s only informing you that a specific graphic that was sent to you cannot be displayed in your text message environment.
That’s really it.
What Isn’t Being Displayed in Text Messages and the Box With an X Is Shown Instead? (8 Things)
Still, knowing what the message means is only part of the deal.
Which things can someone send to you that would trigger the box with an x?
In most cases, it will be something that you can pull up from your keyboard, but there are a handful of other possibilities too.
I’ll take you through the most common triggers for this box, one at a time, so you can get a much clearer idea as to what exactly is happening.
I already mentioned that this box with an x in it usually happens because of compatibility problems from one keyboard to the next.
Now, most keyboards have universal fonts and texts for letters and numbers.
It’s pretty rare that you’ll see this symbol if you’re just sending sentences.
But, when you start to get into specialty characters, the likelihood of seeing the error increases.
There are actually a lot of different keyboards out there, and you’ll find that compatibility problems don’t just exist between iPhones and Androids.
All of that said, some of the more specific symbols that are more likely to trigger the box with an x in it include things like scientific units, registered trademarks, less common currency designations, and things of that nature.
The less common a symbol is, the more likely it is to have compatibility problems from one keyboard to the next.
Emojis might be the most common source of this problem.
Every unique virtual keyboard that you can use for a phone is going to have its own specific set of emojis.
And, this is a good point to have a quick segway.
Are you familiar with the differences between emojis and emoticons?
If you’re old enough to remember before there were emojis, people would use combinations of numbers, letters, and symbols on a keyboard to express ideas.
As an example, 🙂 is a classic way to denote a smiley face.
This is an emoticon.
In the age of smartphones, emoticons were given some serious upgrades.
You could type that same symbol, and your phone would recognize that you wanted to portray a smiley face, so it would actually pull up a graphical smiley face that doesn’t look like keyboard symbols at all.
These upgrades are emojis.
So, emoticons are usually universal and don’t bring up the box with an x.
But, every keyboard uses its own specific graphical image for all of the emojis.
That’s why the smiley face emoji (as an example) doesn’t look quite the same on an Android and an iPhone.
And, if you use any of the additional keyboard options, you can see more variations.
The most common emojis often work fine and don’t create the box with an x in it, but as you delve into more obscure or specialized emojis, you’ll see the box pop up a lot more often.
#3 How Emojis Are Displayed
The emoji problem makes more sense if we dive a little deeper into how your phone actually understands and uses them.
Generally speaking, emojis are managed by something called UTF (Unicode Transformation Format).
This is a system that takes all characters on a keyboard and assigns each one a unique code.
This coding system makes it a little easier and more efficient for computers to convert text to binary and back again.
For those who don’t remember, binary refers to the sets of 1s and 0s that computers actually understand.
Anything a computer does has to be converted to binary at some point.
But, when things are displayed for humans to read and understand, they are converted from binary back to our own verbal language(s).
The UTF system is why you can read texts from other phone platforms.
Every phone is using the same Unicode library to define the letters.
Even though the computer only actually understands the 1s and 0s, the Unicode formatting translates it all back to the correct letters and punctuations for you, so it all looks right.
Well, emojis are also governed by UTF.
This is why most of the time, people can send you emojis, and they look right.
This is true even if one of you is using Android and the other an iPhone.
The challenge here is that new emojis are created all the time.
What happens is that new emojis aren’t necessarily added to UTF right away.
Developers might disagree on how new emojis should be designated.
So, until new emojis are standardized, they’re likely to give you the X.
GIFs are another source of the box with an x in it.
Many modern phone keyboards have a whole bunch of preloaded GIFs, and this means that you can run into the same basic compatibility problems.
Now, the GIF is its own specialized thing in technology, and because of that, there is some universality to how GIFs work.
But like anything else in the digital age, a lot of people have tinkered with the software and put their own spin on GIFs, and because of that, you can hit compatibility problems from one phone to the next.
So, depending on how your digital keyboard manages GIFs, you might run into the problem and see the box with the x when sending or receiving GIFs.
This problem is even more likely if you use resources other than your keyboard to find GIFs.
So, if you use your internet browser to find the perfect GIF and copy it into your keyboard, it might not be formatted correctly for text message communication, and you could trigger this problem.
Pictures will give you this problem a lot less often, and that’s because when you text a picture from your phone to someone else, it is going to default to a universal format.
Most commonly, this is the JPG format, but there are a few other possible formats, and the vast majority of modern phones can handle all of them.
Picture communication has largely been standardized in the tech world, so you’re unlikely to see this issue when sending or receiving actual pictures via text message.
But, there’s an exception, and it has to do with previews.
Instead of sending a picture that you took or saved on your phone, you might instead send a picture that you copied from the internet.
Maybe you saw a funny meme on social media and want to send it to a friend.
Depending on how you copy that meme, you might not actually be texting a photo to your friend.
Instead, you could be texting a web address to them.
So, your text message is really telling their phone where on the internet they can find the image that you are sharing.
It’s pretty common for phones to take these addresses, find the content, and then display a preview of the content.
So, even though you technically texted a web address to someone (often unwittingly), they see the picture that you wanted to share in their own message.
Essentially, the phone is automating a lot of steps to make things convenient for both users.
The issue is that this introduces more opportunities for compatibility problems, and that’s why you might sometimes see the box with an x when texting or receiving pictures.
Videos are similar to pictures.
Video formats are pretty standardized, so the real risk here is that a video web address preview is creating a compatibility problem.
Again, this is less likely, but it can happen, so it’s listed here.
Before I get to the very last possibility, it’s time for a catch-all category.
You may have noticed, but there’s a theme behind the various triggers for the box with an x in it.
Graphics tend to cause this problem.
That’s because graphics can be displayed in a lot of different formats and using a lot of different techniques, and that’s where the chance of a compatibility issue can arise.
Ultimately, the box always means the same thing.
Your phone’s keyboard cannot load the graphic.
#8 It’s Displaying Just Fine
There is also a real chance that everything is working just fine, even though you see the box with the “x” in it.
In such a case, what you’re seeing is a picture or copy of this error graphic.
It might make sense with an example.
Let’s say you have an iPhone and you send a text to a friend with an Android.
You send an emoji in your text, and when they receive it, they get the box with the x in it.
They try to tell you that they didn’t receive part of your message.
You ask them to clarify, so they send you a screenshot.
Well, now you have the box with an x graphic in your text message, but in this case, it isn’t telling you anything about your phone.
It’s just a copy of the error that was on the other phone.
This is something that can happen, and it won’t necessarily be a screenshot.
There are memes that might use this graphic and plenty of other scenarios where it might come up, even though your phone is working just fine and there are no problems to try to solve.