Although you may not realize it, 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 what if you just hate typing on a tiny keyboard and lack cell coverage? Whatever the case may be, we’ve put together this simple guide on 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 as quite as simple and reliable as the methods outlined below. Read on for further details.
How to send texts via your email client
If you want to send an SMS to a mobile phone, there’s no need to opt for a third-party service — you can do so directly within your email client. Instead of using a service you don’t know or trust, you can deliver a short email in the form of a text message by using an email to SMS gateway. So long as you know the person’s phone number and the name of their service provider, you can easily find the appropriate gateway address that will forward your message. 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).
In either case, sending a message is easy. Just compose an email like you would normally, but rather than entering the person’s email address in the recipient box, simply insert their 10-digit phone number with the appropriate @gateway address behind it. Afterward, hit send.
|U.S. Carrier||SMS Gateway||MMS Gateway|
*For T-Mobile, include “1,” which is the U.S. country code, before the phone number. To find SMS gateways for carriers not listed here, and carriers in other countries, consult this list on Github.
To ensure that this process works, you should limit your messages to 160 characters or less. If you go over this 160-character limit, the message will be sent as an MMS rather than a SMS, which sometimes requires a different gateway address. Furthermore, although this method is entirely free the sender, standard messaging rates may still apply to the person receiving these messages. No third-party service will have access to your telephone number, or the person you’re messaging, and replies will go directly to your email inbox. This process also makes it easy to send the same text to multiple people, since you can add as many addresses as you like to the recipient’s box.
Integrated mobile options
For those who don’t regularly use their computers to send and receive text messages, the aforementioned email option isn’t exactly convenient. The good news is that both Android and iOS offer ways to sync your text messages between your smartphone and your computer, however, you’ll need a computer running MacOS to take advantage of the iOS implementation.
How to send texts via Apple’s iMessage (iOS and MacOS)
The ability to share your location and embed audio clips aren’t the only features Apple decided to bake into iOS 8. Though the innate messaging app in MacOS 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.
To set up iMessage and SMS forwarding on your iOS device, navigate to the main Settings menu and tap Messages. Afterward, 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.
Afterward, 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.
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. Keep in mind that you can always tell the difference between a text message and an iMessage message at a glance, as the former will appear in green and the latter in blue.
How to send texts via MightyText (Android)
The developers behind MightyText found a way to integrate Android text messaging with desktop machines well before Apple introduced the long-sought feature with iOS 8. Once you’ve installed the freemium app on your Android device and paired your phone number with your Google account, MightyText will allow you to send and receive SMS texts from directly within your browser. The software even supports group texting and MMS, and comes with options for setting up call notifications and battery alerts at the ready.
To use MightyText, first download the app from Google Play and allow your phone to sync with your Google account. Then, download and install the accompanying extension for your browser of choice, if offered. Otherwise, head to the MightyText website to get started.
The sleek web interface will showcase a navigation pane on the left-hand side and your current conversation on the right. Remember, standard texting rates still apply.
How to send texts via PushBullet (Android)
Pushbullet does many things, but one of its best features is its ability to send texts from your computer using your Android phone. Simply install the Pushbullet app on your phone, then install the accompanying Windows app or the browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.
When a text comes in, you’ll receive a notification, which you can click to begin a conversation using the sleek window shown above. You can also browse your most recent conversations from within the PushBullet interface.
How to send texts via Cortana (Windows)
If you use a Windows Phone and Windows 10 on your computer, you can easily send a text using Cortana. Just start typing the word “text” in Windows 10 search bar, followed by the person you’d like to contact. Assuming your computer and your phone are both signed into the same Microsoft account, Cortana will figure out who you want to text and ask you what you’d like to say.
Cortana can also show you notifications when you receive a new message on your Windows phone, and perform a variety of other useful actions, which are further outlined in our comprehensive guide to Microsoft’s virtual assistant. This isn’t a complete solution, however, given that there’s currently no interface for browsing old texts or a separate window for ongoing conversations. It is, however, a quick way to send a text without picking up your phone.
Windows 10 devotees using Cortana on their Android device can also send and receive texts in a similar manner. To send a text using Cortana on the desktop, however, users need to make sure the recipient is listed within the People app. If your chosen recipient is not listed, launch the app and click the addition sign to add said recipient to the Microsoft Account database.
Once done, make sure the linked Cortana app on your Android device is set to push and receive text messages to and from your PC. Start by heading into Settings > Sync notifications and make sure Apps notifications sync is switched on. Then, tap Choose which apps to sync and select your device’s messaging app. Note: You can actually enable any messaging app to send and receive messages, including Facebook Messenger, allowing you to quickly respond to a message from any PC running Windows 10.
Once both platforms are configured, users 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. Users can actually expand on that command with “Message Blah Blah” or “Text Blah Blah,” which will allow you to automatically select a recipient. You can even take things further, too, if you want to include additional context. For instance, you can say “Message Blah Blah Did you already leave for work?”
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. Users 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 meant for full conversations — at least, not yet. Also, keep in mind that this service requires you to install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
If none of the aforementioned options fit the bill, then there are a few ways to sidestep the issue. After all, there are a few free and premium services that allow users to send a quick text in an emergency, or when their phone isn’t nearby.
How to send texts via a free SMS website
If you weren’t already aware, there’s a bevy of free websites designed for sending text messages from your computer to a phone number of your own choosing. Sadly, many of these sites require you to register for an account in order to use their features, or, at the very least, provide a valid email in order to receive responses. They’re also lined with spam, and may potentially sell your information if you consent to their terms of service, which you likely have to in order to use them. Sites such as Text ‘Em, Send SMS Now, Txt2day, A Free SMS all essentially do the same thing, but should really only be used as a last resort. Proceed at your own risk.
If you do go this route, you’ll typically need to select the appropriate country from a drop-down menu or map before entering the phone number you’d like to reach. Standard messaging rates still apply, but most sites designed for texting will showcase a basic character counter so you’ll know when you top the 160-character cap. Afterward, simply click the Send SMS button or a similar button thereof to send your message.
Send texts via Google (United States only)
Google Voice isn’t a service everyone is familiar with, and, sadly, it can be convoluted. Many of the features were integrated with Hangouts a couple of years ago, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Google soon killed off the service entirely. Nonetheless, if you want to send texts from a computer, it’s currently one of the better solutions available.
Assuming you have a Google account, head to the Google Voice homepage and walk through the provided steps to set up your Google Voice account. Once everything is in place, you can send SMS messages from directly within the Google Voice interface.
Keep in mind, however, that messages will come from your Google Voice number, not your cell phone. This means you’ll have to teach your contacts to use your new number if you want to use the service on a regular basis. You can also set up Google Voice to forward received texts to your cell phone, if desired. Texts to the United States and Canada are free, too, and people can respond to your texts the way they normally would.
Update: Verified processes outlined above and updated copy and screenshots for relevancy.