Sending texts from your computer is extremely useful in dozens of situations. Perhaps you lost your phone and need to send a message to someone, maybe you’re over your monthly text limit and still need to get in touch with your friends, or you may just hate typing on a tiny keyboard. Whatever the case may be, it’s easier than you might think to learn how to send a text message from a computer.
There are hundreds of online services out there that’ll get the job done, but none of them are quite as simple and reliable as the methods outlined below.
How to send texts via iMessage (iOS and MacOS)
Though iMessage formerly only handled iMessages, later iterations of Apple’s operating system include an option specifically designed for forwarding SMS messages directly to your Mac or another iOS device. Once properly set up, you’ll be able to quickly send messages from your computer to any known number using the Messages app on your machine — and receive them in a similar fashion without ever glancing at your phone.
Step 1: To set up iMessage and SMS forwarding on your iOS device, navigate to the main Settings menu and tap Messages.
Step 2: Toggle on iMessage and ensure you’re logged into the same iCloud account as all other devices using Messages. Also, make sure all of your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Step 3: Tap Text Message Forwarding, toggle the switch directly right of the Apple device to which you want to send SMS messages, and then enter the six-digit confirmation code displayed on the device. Doing so will confirm that you want to send and receive messages from your iPhone on your Mac, and confirm you own the machine. You may or may not have to type in a confirmation code, depending on your setup.
Once everything is set up, you can send text messages by clicking the pencil icon located above the contact list, entering your desired recipients, and composing the message as you would normally. However, keep in mind that the standard text message limit of 160 characters still applies even when using Messages. A text longer than 160 characters will likely count as two for billing purposes, or more depending on how long it is.
However, you can send messages to other iOS and MacOS users for free, as long as they use Messages. Remember, a normal text message will be in a green bubble, while an iMessage will be in a blue bubble. This method works with both Mac and iOS.
How to send texts via Android Messages (Android)
Android Messages lets Android smartphone owners text straight from a web interface, no matter what device they’re using. It works on desktops, laptops, or even iOS devices. You do have to set Android Messages as the default app on your phone though, so make sure to do so before getting started.
Step 1: Go to the Android Messages homepage.
Step 2: Open the Android Messages application on your phone.
Step 3: Tap on the menu and select Messages for Web.
Step 4: Tap Scan QR code and use your handset to scan the QR code from the Android Messages homepage. If you aren’t sure how, here’s a guide on using QR codes with today’s smartphones. This will link your device and your browser, and you’ll see messages and contacts appear on your other device as they synchronize.
Step 5: Use the web interface to chat with friends and family as you would on your Android smartphone.
If you want to retain the synchronization between devices so that you don’t have to scan the QR code every time, you can hit the Remember this computer toggle in your web browser.
How to send texts via Cortana (Windows)
If you use an Android phone (or an old Windows Phone) and Windows 10 on your computer, you can easily send a text using Cortana. If you happen to have a Windows phone, just start typing the word text in the Windows 10 search bar, followed by the person you’d like to contact. Assuming your computer and your phone are both signed in to the same Microsoft account, Cortana will figure out who you want to text and ask you what you’d like to say.
Windows 10 devotees using Cortana on their Android device can also send and receive texts in a similar manner and the latest versions even let the A.I. read them for you.
Step 1: To send a text using Cortana on the desktop, make sure the recipient is listed within the People app. When Cortana is enabled on both devices, the voice assistant is generally smart enough to find the right contact information for the person. But to make sure the process works fluidly, you should make extra sure the person you are texting is on your PC contact list too.
Step 2: When that’s done, head to Settings on your Windows computer through the Start Menu or by searching for it. In Settings, select the option that says Your phone. In this new window you will have an option to Add a phone. Select this and input your information. Windows 10 will then send you a text message that encourages you to download the Your Phone Companion app. Download it, sign in, and follow the instruction to link your phone to your Windows 10 account. Make sure you sign in with the right Microsoft account.
When finished, your phone should be added to the Your phone section of Settings.
Step 3: On your Windows 10 PC, head to the Settings menu. You can also find Settings by searching for it in the search bar of your Windows desktop. In Settings, choose the Cortana section.
Here you will find a number of Cortana options. Look to the left side menu, choose the section that says Cortana across my devices. Here, make sure that the first option, Get phone notifications on this PC, is enabled.
Step 4: Head over to the Cortana app on your phone (if Cortana is not already installed, now is the time to do it). Select the menu button in the upper left, and then select Settings. Make sure the Send phone notifications feature is enabled here.
Step 5: Once both platforms are configured, you can send a text message to a Microsoft account contact by simply saying or typing the word Message in Cortana’s text field in the Windows 10 taskbar. Cortana will then expand and provide fields for choosing your desired recipient, typing your message, and choosing the SMS option.
You can expand on that command with Message [insert name] or Text [insert name], which will allow you to automatically select a recipient. You can even take things further, if you want to include additional context. For instance, you can say Message [insert name] Did you already leave for work? If you ever don’t want to use Cortana, you can always go back to the Your phone section and choose your phone to manually send a text message.
As for receiving texts, the Android iteration of Cortana will forward texts to a Windows 10 PC, which will then appear as pop-up notifications in the right-hand corner of your screen. You can reply to the message from directly within the notification, assuming only one message was received. If multiple texts arrive at the same time from the same sender, then the notification will not provide a text field for your response.
Like the Windows Phone version of Cortana, there’s no way to browse older texts in Windows 10. It’s a great way to reply to a single incoming text, however, and to send a single outgoing text without having to pick up your Android device. Unfortunately, the feature is not really meant for full conversations. This method works best if you have updated to the most recent Windows 10 edition — although this may take a little work.
Sending texts via email
As our last option, you can send an SMS to a mobile phone without the need of a third-party service — you can do so directly within your email client by emailing the right carrier. Don’t know what mobile carrier your friend uses? Find out here.
For quick reference, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common U.S. service providers and their corresponding gateway addresses below. However, keep in mind there are different addresses for regular messages (SMS) and those that include photos and other media (MMS). For more information, check out our full article on how to send a text message via email.
|SMS Gateway||MMS Gateway|
Note: For T-Mobile, include 1, which is the U.S. country code, before the phone number.