The rise of texting has made these short little text messages tapped out on our smartphones one of the quickest, most efficient, and common ways of communicating with friends, coworkers, and even acquaintances. Tech users young and old have quickly converted to a position of much preferring to get a text over a phone call any day of the week. Texting is faster for short messages and leaves a written record so that you can recall the address she told you, or remember what he wanted on his sandwich.
Texting has its own quirks and foibles as a means of communication. First and foremost, you need a phone plan that supports texting. Although there are still some low-end plans that limit users to 30 or 60 messages a month (or even less), most plans today include unlimited SMS. However, the big limitation of texting has always been that you’re doing it on a smartphone, with a keyboard so tiny that you can get four letters underneath one thumb, barely, and a screen the size of a deck of cards. If only you could text while sitting at a desktop PC, enjoying the vastly superior comfort of a real keyboard and a giant monitor to display all your messages!
How can I receive text messages on my computer without a cell phone?
Well, of course, you can use your desktop or laptop keyboard to send text messages rather than using your phone! In this article, I’ll give you a quick tutorial on how to send and receive text messages on your PC or Mac without using a phone at all in the process. There are a lot of SMS apps for PC and Macs, but in this article I’m going to focus on three of the biggest and most popular. They are Pinger Textfree Web, Pushbullet and MightyText. In addition, I’ll discuss the old standby Google Voice, as well as the little-known SMS messaging features of Skype.
Can I text someone from my computer for free? Yes – with Pinger Textfree Web
Pinger Textfree Web is a neat website that gives you a free online phone number and a textfree.us email address to use. You can use the account to send and receive texts as you see fit. When signing up, you need to provide a valid zip code and will then need to choose a phone number to assign to your account. You’ll also need an outside phone number (like a cell number or a Google Voice number) to validate your account. Pinger Textfree Web runs as a web page, so you can use it from any PC, Mac, or even on a tablet or smartphone.
The Pinger Textfree Web interface is simple and easy to use. Your phone number is to the left and clicking on it brings up the text window. Type in your message and your recipient and hit send. Text messages seem to be sent out very quickly. During my testing of this web app, there was a delay of less than two minutes between sending a text and seeing it received on the test phone I used. The service keeps track of your message threads just like an SMS app on your phone would. However, note that the messages are stored on the Pinger servers, not locally, so if you have Internet connectivity problems you might have trouble accessing your message history.
The app also tends to fall behind when it has many long conversations to keep histories on.
Can I text someone from my computer? Yes – with Pushbullet
Pushbullet works in a similar way to Pinger Textfree Web but requires you to download a small app to the computer you are using. There are apps for just about every operating system under the sun. That’s fine if you’re at home but not so great if you are locked out of a work computer. If you’re at work, use the browser extension instead if you can. You will also need to install the Pushbullet app onto your phone to sync the two.
Install the app and sign in with a Google or Facebook account on both instances of Pushbullet. From there you can select SMS from the menu, compose your message, add a recipient(s) and send the message. Arriving messages and phone calls will trigger a Windows notification and you can reply directly or from the Pushbullet app. The app also integrates with Cortana but I didn’t try that part. Pushbullet seems to work quickly and effectively. Having to install stuff may be a no-go for those at work but otherwise, the app works well.
Send or receive text messages with MightyText
MightyText also requires you to install a browser extension and mobile app but works well enough to make it worthwhile if you can do it. It only works with Android phones too which is another limitation. That aside, the app supports Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and IE. It works on desktops, mobile and tablets and has a very tidy UI.
Once installed, you sign in with your Google account and you will see a small MightyText icon appear in the browser window. You will also be sent to an authorization page that will allow Google to access MightyText. Once done, you will be returned to your browser and can use the SMS app the same way as these others.
Can you text from a phone without service? Yes with Google Voice
If you’re in the U.S. Google Voice is still available should you want to use it. If you live outside the U.S. I’m afraid this option won’t work. The platform never got the attention or the investment it deserved but it still works solidly and can be a major part of your telecom strategy. There are rumors that Voice will be discontinued at some point but until then, you can use your Google number to send and receive SMS.
The sign-up process for Google Voice involves first selecting a local number in your area code, then signing up for the account. You will need a non-Google Voice phone number with which to validate your Google Voice number, and each Voice account you have will correlate to one Gmail account. Once you’ve completed the Google Voice sign-up process, you will be returned to a very familiar interface that looks like any other Google app. On the left of the interface is a button to make phone calls and one to send text messages.
Hit Text and a popup window appears enabling you to add the recipient, type in the message and then hit Send to send the text message. With Google Voice, SMS messages to the U.S. and Canada are free but you will have to pay to send text messages to recipients in countries outside the U.S.
How to receive SMS on PC without a cell phone – Send or receive text messages with Skype
If you use Skype, you can send and receive messages. It isn’t free like calls and video chats are, but it is cheap. It isn’t quite as fluid as these other apps as there is no sync between your phone and Skype. You also need to configure a Sender ID to make it look like you are sending from your cellphone if you want that feature. If you do that, any SMS you receive will appear on your phone and not in Skype so you may not actually want to do that.
Otherwise, verify your cell number in Skype and add a payment method. Then in the main window where you add your message, select Skype where it says ‘via Skype’ and change it to SMS. Add the mobile number if you need to, or otherwise, select a contact, type your message and hit Send. You can also text people who are not contacts by using the dialer.
Sending messages via Skype isn’t free. This page shows you how to find out how much it costs to send text messages using Skype.
All five of those solutions more or less allow you to send or receive text messages on a PC without a phone. Some are easier to use than others and some are more expensive than others. The right solution for you will depend on your particular needs. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like this TechJunkie article on How To Check your AT&T Text Messages Online. We have more information about texting apps, like this review of the best texting apps for Android.
Let’s mix up our Amazon recommendations a little bit with this Prime Video link for Season 1 of Text to Kill.
Do you know of any other ways to send or receive text messages on a PC? Leave a comment below if you do!