How To Send Text Messages From Your Computer
The concept of texting is a lot different now than it was fifteen years ago. Back then, users slipped their Motorola Razrs out of their pocket, flipped open the device and typed out a message to their friends on a T9 number pad that required hitting buttons multiple times to gain access to specific letter in order to spell out the words in your sentences. Texting was as basic as a single SMS message from one phone to another, without threads or group messaging, and replying to the wrong text was fairly easy all things considered. Sometimes you might send an MMS message, whether it’s a long text or a low-res photo, but overall, texting in the mid-2000s was a limited invention, one of convenience rather than ease of use.
It wasn’t until the invention of the smartphone that we really saw things grow more complicated. Overtime, texting and messaging became one in the same, starting slowly but accelerating quickly with the invent of options like iMessage on iOS and the popularity of Facebook Messenger (often just known as Messenger) and WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook. Even SMS and MMS has slowly been pushed towards a messaging interface, albeit with mixed results due to the limitation of those protocols. Even SMS has a replacement coming though, in the form of the iMessage-like RCS. With the backing of Google and most major carriers, we hope to see RCS get a major push throughout the next year or so, eventually replacing SMS between Android devices and, with any luck, iPhones as well.
One downside to the merging of instant messaging platforms and SMS-based texting is the lack of being able to send IM messages from your computer, as you could back in the days of AOL Instant Messaging and MSN Messenger. Sure, the benefits here outweigh the missing computer sync—especially when you consider that some platforms like Facebook messenger still allow you to accomplish computer sync with little to no work on your end—but it’s been a missing feature from SMS for years. Slowly but surely, however, we’ve seen platforms begin to roll out computer sync that all0w users to send texts from their computer by way of their smartphone, all syncing with each other to create a perfect storm of messaging.
Now, in 2018, it’s never been easier to send texts from your computer to your friends, family, and coworkers. It’s not a perfect system yet, but it’s one that works well within its own set of limitations. No matter whether you’re using an iOS device, an Android device, or no smartphone at all, there are options for you to send texts to anyone you want right from your computer. Let’s take a look at how to send texts from your desktop or laptop computer, without having to constantly pick up your phone.
Sending Texts from an iOS Device on Your Computer
Depending on how deep you are inside the Apple ecosystem, sending texts from your computer using your iPhone is incredibly easy, nearly second nature. So long as you own an iPhone and a MacOS device, sending texts or messages can be done directly through iMessage, a platform that is built into every modern MacOS device on the market today. iMessage is one of the top features on iOS, and one of the main reasons people who own iPhones don’t attempt to switch to Android. There’s no true competitor to iMessage on Android yet, even in 2018, which makes iMessage an obvious boon for those who live deep inside the Apple ecosystem. But there are some downsides to the deep loyalty to iMessage as well, ones we’ll cover in just a moment.
Truthfully, there’s no real tutorial to sending iMessages and texts from your Mac. Setting up the app is as easy as opening Messages on your computer, signing in with your Apple ID, and selecting the phone number from preferences that you’ll want to send messages with. That’s basically it; like many Apple products, the company makes it easy to setup your device without any issue. Apple has some great documentation on their support website that helps you if you do run into any bugs, but really, after you’ve signed in with your device, that’s about it. You’ve properly logged in with the app, and you’re good to start sending both iMessages and basic SMS messages from your computer.
Unfortunately, this perfect sync arrangement basically means that those users without both a MacOS computer and their iPhone are out of luck. If you’re a Windows user—and considering how strong Windows 10 is as a platform for content creation, gaming, and just general use, there’s a lot of people out there that will likely find themselves unable to send texts from their proper phone number from their computer. Apple doesn’t allow for applications on the App Store to work around their restrictions, so unfortunately, if you’re rocking a Windows computer with your iPhone, you’re out of luck.
iOS users shouldn’t give up quite yet, however. If you’re looking for a way to send texts from your computer without the use of your phone, we’ve got you covered in a guide listed below.
Sending Texts from an Android Device on Your Computer
Up until this very month, texting from a computer using your Android device was possible, but not without the help of a third-party application available from the Play Store. Unlike Apple, where Messages is the only application you can use to send content from your phone to other people using your phone number, Android allows for any number of SMS and texting apps to take over texting duties, assigning a default texting app within the proper settings menu in the device.
We’ll get to those texting apps that have web or desktop clients in a moment, but first, let’s talk about the newest—and easiest—method for sending texts from your computer using your Android phone. Android Messages is Google’s texting application, becoming more featured by the day. Though it began as a simple SMS and MMS client, Messages now supports RCS and Google’s rebranding of the protocol, called Chat. While we wait for all four national carriers to support the protocol, we must admit that there’s plenty to love about Messages as it stands now, even without full RCS support. The biggest addition to the app, outside of the rumored redesign that will follow new Material Design guidelines for 2018, is Messages for Web, an update that rolled out in June of 2018 for all Android Messages users, making it easy to send texts from any computer, regardless of operating system.
Whether you have a Windows 10 computer, a MacBook Pro, a Linux machine, or a Chromebook, you have access to a browser that makes it easy to access your messages on Android. You’ll need to start by switching your default texting app to Android Messages if you haven’t already, a task accomplished by downloading the app from the Play Store here or by activating the app if it came installed on your device. As far as Android Messages go, it’s one of our favorite texting apps to date.
With Messages installed on your device, you’ll want to grab your laptop or head to your desktop PC, open the browser of your choice (we’ve only tested it within Chrome), and enter “messages.android.com”; alternatively, click here. You’ll see a webpage with some simple instructions, along with a randomly-generated QR code. The list of instructions will have three steps:
- On your phone, open Messages
- Tap the More options menu and select “Messages for web”
- Scan the code with your phone
Inside your Messages app, you’ll want to select the menu icon, placed in the top-right corner of the display, in order to open the menu for Messages. Select “Messages from Web,” the third option down, and you’ll be given access to the display to select the necessary options for your computer. You’re looking to scan the QR code on the display of your browser, so press the button to open the camera and place the QR code within the box on your display. Messages is quick to read this, so don’t be surprised if it opens quickly. Once you’ve linked the computer with your phone, you can select to remember the computer permanently, or you can sign out of Messages on your computer when you’re done with the device.
The layout of Messages within your browser is clean and easy to both use and read, with your message threads on the left of the display and the selected thread on the right side of the display, taking up most of the room on the screen. There’s a dark mode here, something missing from the actual app on Android, but unfortunately, there’s no search options as of yet. Outside of those two notes, the apps are basically the same, matching feature for feature and allowing you to text from any device you want—even an iPad.
If you don’t want to use Android Messages, you have a couple more choices at your disposal, though it’s worth noting you’ll have to pay for them in most cases in order to gain the most functionality from the products. Here are four Android Messages alternatives that allow you to text from your computer:
- Pulse SMS: Like Android Messages, Pulse SMS is a full messaging client that also happens to have web sync. Pulse is an evolution of, fittingly, EvolveSMS, the earlier messaging app by Klinker Apps. In many ways, Pulse is a great messaging client in its own right, but the real advancement comes from the ability to text in native apps on a huge number of platforms, with apps for the web, for Chrome, Windows, MacOS, and even Android TV. It’s a solid platform, and even includes encryption on your messages, though expect to pay for the privilege of using Pulse’s online platform. Pulse runs users $.99 per month, $1.99 for three months, $5.99 for a year, or $10.99 for a lifetime purchase. The flexibility in pricing is great, and we recommend either springing for the year or lifetime purchase if you can.
- Textto: If Android Messages and Pulse SMS both require their own clients to be used on the web, Textto is a third-party alternative that allows you to use whatever messaging app you prefer, so you to type messages to your friends from any device with a web browser, regardless of where you are. Unlike Pulse, however, you won’t have to switch your messaging app to do it. Likewise, while we’ve seen this kind of accessibility from apps like Pushbullet with its own respective web client, Pushbullet limits your ability to send messages without paying to 100 messages per month. Textto is a completely free utility, without ads, in-app purchases, or subscriptions. Being a work in progress, it isn’t perfect—not by a long shot—but it’s a step in the right direction, and one we’re excited to see develop in the future.
- MightyText: MightyText is one of the older apps on this list that allows you to sync your messages to your computer, with some extra features available for those looking for things like battery indicators and incoming call notifications. MightyText works well within its web client, and it’s been relied on by many users for more than half a decade now. The app starts at a free price, but most users will want to upgrade to MightyText Pro, which removes the 150 messages per month cap and ads, along with a bunch of other features. It runs users $6.99 per month, or $79.99 per year.
- Pushbullet: Once available for free, Pushbullet now comes in a free and paid tier for users, a controversial change among its legion of fans. Not just made for messages, Pushbullet allows you to sync all sorts of notifications and content between your computer and your phone, but the paid tier is much more fully-featured. Upgrading to the Pushbullet Pro platform gains you a limitless cap on messages, as opposed to just 100 for other uses, and removes many of the data caps on sharing files and other content between devices. It’ll cost you $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year, cheaper than MightyText but more expensive than Pulse SMS.
Sending Texts from Your Computer Without a Smartphone
If you don’t have a phone or a phone number for whatever reason—maybe you’ve recently lost your phone, or you’re waiting for a replacement device after yours broke—you aren’t completely out of luck. Though the above methods of texting from a computer are most certainly the easiest way to do so, they aren’t the only methods for sending messages from your Mac or Windows PC. These options below are fully capable of sending messages from your computer, and they can do so without you owning a smartphone, or having one near you. Let’s take a look at the options available for users without a phone next to them.
Granted, you’ll need a phone number to initially sign up for Voice. Once you have completed the sign up, however, you’ll gain access to one of the most full-featured web-only mobile clients available on the market today. Google Voice has been around for nearly a decade now, offering users a mobile number that can act as a secondary option for their phones. Voice is designed for both call forwarding and voicemail options, but the messaging service is what we’ll be using here. When you sign up for Google Voice, you’ll verify your account through your existing number before the service grants you access to a brand new number, basically of your choosing. You can easily choose your own area code, and Google will give you a number of selections to choose from when it comes to picking a number.
Once you have your account made, you can send any text from your computer using your Google Voice number. If you have your contacts synced with Google, you’ll be able to select a number right from that listing without any major issues. Using the text option is as easy as clicking on the text icon on the left and selecting your number, after which you can use as many texts and calls as you want. If you’re waiting to gain access back to your smartphone, or you need a backup number for whatever reason, this is a great way to go about gaining access back to your contacts. Just make sure you tell the person on the other end who’s texting them; after all, they won’t be able to see your normal phone number when texting. If you happen to be traveling overseas and won’t have access to your normal number, this is also a great way to text from your phone or tablet using the mobile apps over WiFi.
Skype, owned and operated by Microsoft, is one of the most popular VoIP services on the web today, and you can use it to send texts from your computer to your Skype contacts as you wish. It isn’t quite as flexible as Google Voice, however, since you’ll need to purchase Skype credit to send your messages. That said, SMS works well through Skype, and makes it easy to send messages to anyone in the world you might be looking to send texts. The one problem, of course, is that if your selected contact hasn’t enabled and linked their phone number to Skype, you won’t be able to send them a message via SMS, thanks to the lack of the appropriate phone number.
A trick as old as cell phones, you can easily text any phone number via your email simply by knowing the phone number and the carrier associated with the number in the first place. Every phone number has the ability to be reached via email through the carrier services. If you’re looking to find out what the @ for each number would be, here’s the basic layout for the major carriers in the United States currently. Each number will use the ten-digit code; for example, 555-555-1234, but without the hyphens.
- Verizon: [email protected]
- AT&T: [email protected]
- T-Mobile: [email protected]
- Sprint: [email protected]
You can also use these services to send MMS messages, but you’ll need a different @ handle for your email to send a full MMS message properly. The same principle follows here, but you’ll want to make sure that multimedia gains access to these email addresses rather than the basic ones above.
- Verizon: [email protected]
- AT&T: [email protected]
- T-Mobile: [email protected] (unchanged)
- Sprint: [email protected]
If you’re texting to a carrier outside of the big four, you can pretty easily find that carrier email handle by Googling it, since almost every carrier from small to big has the option to email texts like this.
Our final suggestion is just as simple as emailing your phone destination: simply use any number of free texting websites to send a text. Granted, there are a number of catches to this, whether it be the lack of being able to reply to these messages to the lack of phone number and proper threading of messages, not to mention the ads that label the sides of these sites. But overall, it’s actually pretty easy to send out a message to the person you want to text, be it yourself or someone else, so long as you have their phone number. Here’s just a couple recommendations of sites you can use to accomplish this:
- Open Texting Online: Perhaps the most simple of these sites, Open Texting Online makes it easy to send a text and receive a reply through your email. You simply copy down the phone number you’re texting, select the country and the carrier if you know it, enter your (character limited) message, and hit send. Any replies will go back to your submitted email, making it easy to text someone quickly if you don’t have your phone on you but have access to a computer.
- TextFree: In terms of design, TextFree is perhaps the most modern of these apps, a similar service to Google Voice that offers both a web version and a mobile application. The web version is fairly simple, but does support basic threaded messages after you log in with a Facebook or Google account. You won’t be able to send MMS messages from the desktop version like you can with the mobile version, but nevertheless, it’s a solid offering for anyone looking for an easy way to send messages right from their computer without an issue.
- TextEm: Similar to Open Texting, TextEm is a simple utility that allows you to send a message from your web browser and gain a reply to your email address from the user. It’s great for an emergency text situation, with a clean design and easy to use texting box.
None of these sites are great long-term efforts for your texting from a computer, but largely speaking, if you need a site to quickly send a text or to about your location or some piece of important information, these are good emergency options to know about.
Generally speaking, both Android and iOS allow you to send texts easily from your computer with a few catches here and there. For iOS, you’ll need a MacOS device to properly send texts from your computer; otherwise, you can forget about it. For Android, you’ll either need to use Android Messages as your texting client, or turn to a third-party utility that often features limits or price tags in order to unlock the full utility of the service. Either way, it’s never been easier in 2018 to text from your computer—and that’s without counting the ability to send messages from services like Google Voice or Skype. Ultimately, sending texts from your computer in 2018 is a must-have feature for any device, and luckily, both Android and iOS now have that feature right out of the box.