How do I send SMS on my computer?
May 24, 2016 7:36 AM   Subscribe

My personal phone is an iPhone 5. My work laptop is a Dell running Win7. I'd like to send/receive texts on my computer. How do I do this?

I know there is no Windows equivalent for iMessages, which is what I used in my other job when I had a MacBook Pro and my personal iPhone sync'd. My wife has an Android phone, and I used to use MightyText when I was an Android user, too.

I've tried Googling around, but I'm honestly confused by it all. Can you help clear this up with some recommendations?
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
One way to do it is by email.
Look up your carrier on this list and you can send an email to an address of that format to send an SMS.
This will appear to be coming from your email address, not your phone number, so this might not be what you want.
posted by jozxyqk at 7:42 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Who is your cell phone carrier? AT&T, for example, lets you send/receive text messages on their web page.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:46 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

another possibility is to use google voice, which can be accessed via an iPhone or a Windows desktop. Google Hangouts interfaces with SMS - an SMS user can send a text to your number and the text turns up in Google Hangouts, and then your reply ends up in their SMS
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:50 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Betelgeuse > I use Verizon Wireless. I've found their SMS Web app to be a bit slow and unreliable, so I'm trying to avoid this if at all possible.

randomkeystrike> I have Google Hangouts installed on my PC and iPhone. Do I need Google Voice? How do you rig it so that incoming texts show up in Hangouts?
posted by zooropa at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2016

You might try Pushbullet! I use it rather frequently. Essentially you've got a web-browser add-on (or desktop app), an app on your phone, and a Pushbullet login you create that sets up a connection between the two. Not too much other configuration required except for personal preferences and settings! The only downfall is that the free version sends only 100 texts per month, but it's a good demonstration, and workable enough for my requirements. (It's $5/mo or $40 annually, set unlimited, by the by.)
posted by a good beginning at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

My family and I use Hangouts when I am at work. You can't get it to accept incoming texts, but my family knows to use Hangouts instead of texts during the day. If she allows the phone app to send notifications it works about 98% as well as iMessage/SMS. It may be even better with an Android phone (we are an iPhone family). If you are looking to send/receive texts from multiple people this solution will not be as good, but since you mention your wife, I'm assuming your primary use case is communicating with her.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2016

If you don't need/want to use google voice altogether, I'm a bit fuzzy as to how to integrate your SMS. My son is an Android phone user and all into google voice, and some of his texts go to hangouts on my phone, others to regular iMessage/SMS.

Rock Steady's message came in while I was typing - I think some of that might be the solution - associate your phone # with a Google Hangouts account (tied to your gmail account, really - it's all one account), and then get a text notification. Get SMS text, if you want to respond on computer go to hangouts?
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:28 AM on May 24, 2016

I use Pushbullet for this. For a while their SMS-from-browser got really flaky, but that seems to be improving now.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:38 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

You've got a couple of options.

Choice 1 for infrequent occassions:
Send it from your e-mail provider (Gmail, Yahoo mail, AOL, Hotmail, MS Oulook, etc.) as an e-mail. Every cell phone has an e-mail address. You'd address the e-mail with the phone number and the cell phone provider's domain:,, etc. The Xs are the cell phone's number; don't put dashes or parenthese between the numbers. Even if you don't know the person's provider, there's dozens of sites out there that know it. You'd ask google the following question: who is the cell phone provider for XXX-XXX-XXXX? The disadvantage of this option is that you've got to be the one to start the email-to-text conversation. Your conversation partner cannot start it with a text-to-email message.

Choice 2 for regular occassions:
Pushbullet (as suggested by A Good Beginning and Soren) or some other competitive product like MightText. Both apps work the same way in that it doesn't replace your phone's text messaging app. It just makes it appear as if the text is coming from your phone when you're sending it from the PC. When you're on the PC and a text arrives, a notification or window opens automatically and you respond in that open window. You don't have to touch your phone to send it or receive it. The phone app runs in the background. When you're sending texts from the phone, you just use your text messaging app as you normally would; don't touch the Pushbullet or MightyText app. The app won't work unless you've got both the phone app and the browser extension. MightyText (and probably Pushbullet too) have on screen set up instructions.

An advantage of Mightytext and Pushbullet is that you don't have to move your number to Google Voice. A second advantage of using a browser extension such as MightyText is that it records your text message conversations.
posted by dlwr300 at 8:48 AM on May 24, 2016

I have a google voice #, and exclusively use it to send/receive texts on my computer. The google voice number is not bound to a cell/smart-phone (if you call, it rings my home phone, and dings my browser, assuming I'm online and signed into google). Works well for me.
posted by k5.user at 9:53 AM on May 24, 2016

I use google voice and leave open in a pinned tab in Chrome.

Works great, it just can't do MMS and/or emojis (which is fine by me, actually).
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2016

My experience: The recommendations for Pushbullet are only valid for Android. Apps on iPhone don't have the ability to send and receive SMS through the iPhone's system (unlike on Android, which does allow this). The only way I know of to do iPhone messaging on a computer is to have a Mac signed into your iCloud account. There's the (slim) possibility that Apple will open this up in the next version of the iPhone's software—considering they already have the ability to send and receive non-iMessage SMS (green bubbles) on iPads and Macs—but nothing is definite yet.

You can move your number to a service like Google Voice, as others have suggested, and use that app instead of the iPhone's Messaging app.
posted by fireoyster at 7:56 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Verizon web app is indeed not great. But, at least they do also have a desktop app which is somewhat more convenient than leaving a browser tab open. Its a bit clunky but does get the job done.

One benefit of the app is that it might actually be faster than the SMS function on your phone. It pulls the messages directly from the internet quickly, whereas there is sometimes a 10 second or more delay on your phone.

Probably not a solution for you, but worth noting that Windows 10 will be incorporating this feature in this summer's Anniversary update, and it works quite well. (Available now to beta testers 'insiders').
posted by alhadro at 9:08 PM on May 25, 2016

It is possible to run Mac OS within Windows on a virtual machine (see here), and send iMessages from it. However, you apparently have to do some hackery to get the iMessage servers to believe you're sending from a legit Mac and (see here). I have done neither of these things personally. It sounds like it's possible if you're determined and are willing to dive in to the problem.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2016

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