Whether your thumbs are working overtime or your eyes are fighting to focus on a tiny screen, you have the option to take a break from your phone and text from a computer instead. In this blog post, learn how to text from a computer for free along with an affordable option for businesses.
Choosing the right computer texting option
A majority of the following computer texting options work well if you’re texting friends and family, but if you’re a business interested in texting customers, consider using business texting software instead.
There are plenty of hacks and tools to text from a computer for free (and they can be convenient for the occasional text), but if you’re trying to scale, it will be difficult to manage multiple conversations from customers without a centralized platform or the right texting features.
Learn more about using a business texting platform later on in this post.
7 Computer Texting Options for Mac and PC Users
1. How to send a text message from email
You can use your email address to send text messages from a computer to a phone. It’s free and doesn’t require a cell phone plan.
This is a nice computer texting option when you’re in a pinch or just want to send a few texts, but it’s not foolproof. I tested a few email clients (Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo), and I was able to send text messages without a problem, but I didn’t receive every reply I sent from my phone, and one reply was delayed by several hours. The images I sent from my email sometimes didn’t go through either.
Another downside is that replies can go to your email inbox’s junk folder (one of mine did), so you might not see the response right away if you’re not actively checking that folder.
Follow these steps to send a text through email:
Step 2. Open a new email and fill in the “To” line with the phone number and SMS gateway address. Enter the recipient’s 10-digit phone number in the “To” line (without the dashes) and add the carrier domain after the phone number. You can reference the table below for the top carriers.
Use the SMS column for regular texts without media attachments, and use the MMS column for messages with media attachments. Some wireless carriers use the same address for both SMS and MMS text messages. The entire email address should follow this format: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 3. Fill out the subject line (optional).
Step 4. Type your message in the body of the email.
Step 5. Send the email. Any replies will be sent to your email inbox. You can reply to the text from the same email.
2. How to text from a computer: Mac to iMessage
This computer texting option is the easiest to use if you’re an iPhone user and have a Mac computer. You can send messages to both iPhone and Android phone users if you have a Wi-Fi connection.
Step 1. Set up Text Message Forwarding. Follow the step-by-step instructions here.
Step 2. Open the iMessage app on your computer. (To search for the app, use the shortcut Command-F)
Step 3. When prompted, enter your Apple ID and Password. Click Next.
Step 4. To compose a message, click on the icon next to the search bar in the left column.
Step 5. Enter your recipient’s phone number.
Step 6. Enter your text in the field at the bottom of the window.
Step 7. To send, hit Return on your keyboard or click on the blue, upright arrow to the right of the message
3. How to text from your computer to an Android phone
If you’re an Android user, you can send a text message from a PC with the Android Messages web app, known as Messages for web. The web version offers a lot of the same services as Android Messages for mobile, like emojis, GIFs, photos and videos, but you won’t have the ability to use some of the more advanced features, such as Google Pay, file attachments or predictive text.
To get started, you’ll need to set Android Messages as the default texting app on your phone and ensure that you have the latest version installed.
A few tips to keep in mind before using Messages for web for computer texting.
- Before scanning the QR code on the Messages web page, toggle on “Remember this Computer.” Otherwise, you’ll need to pair your devices every time you use the service. If you forget to do this, go to Settings and toggle on “Remember this device” after you log in.
- Keep your phone on when using the web app. If your phone is shut off or the battery dies, you won’t be able to text from your browser. Your phone should have service and your laptop or computer should have access to Wi-Fi.
- Use a compatible web browser. Messages for web is available to use with Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge.
When you have unread messages, you’ll see a red notification and the number of unread texts in the Messages icon in your browser tab.
4. Computer texting with Google Voice
You can also text from a computer using Google Voice, whether you have a PC or Mac. Google Voice is a cloud-based service that provides you with a free phone number for calls, voicemail and texts. You can access Google Voice from any computer via a web browser or you can download the app.
Google Voice currently only allows text messaging within the U.S. and Canada, and if you’re looking for a group texting feature, you’ll only be able to text up to eight people at once.
5. Computer texting using your carrier’s online portal
Not all carriers offer this service, but you may be able to text from your computer by signing into your carrier account online. Log into your account to see if the option is available to you.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you have the option to text from your computer with the DIGITS web client or desktop app. DIGITS is free to use and lets you access your phone number on multiple devices or multiple numbers on one device. The web client is available to postpaid and prepaid legacy customers who have unlimited talk and text plans.
Computer texting is available to Verizon customers through their MyVerizon account. Follow these step-by-step instructions to sign in and compose a text to other Verizon users.
6. Send texts through a free SMS website
This computer texting method is great if you want to send international texts or if you’ve lost your phone and need to get in touch with someone, but there are drawbacks to using these types of free services.
The interfaces can be clunky, you might not be able to see replies on the site itself (some send responses to your email), messages might not always go through, and there’s potential to get spammed with advertisements and unsolicited texts. Be cautious when providing your information to these services; they might sell any phone number you provide to third parties.
7. Text customers from a computer using business texting software
If your business is interested in how to text customers from a computer, the above options don’t offer the smoothest customer experience. Apps like iMessage and Android Messages don’t have text message features that truly leverage the power of texting for business. And sending texts from your email can be unreliable and confusing to customers—they may see an unrecognizable phone number and mistaken it as spam. Instead, try business texting software.
Business texting software like Zipwhip lets you conveniently text from a computer with a desktop or web app using your existing landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number, meaning your customers can text you on the same number they recognize and already know to call. It’s a lot less confusing than giving them two separate phone numbers to reach you.
And texting software can be be valuable to nearly all areas of your business, including customer service and support, alerts and reminders, marketing and promotions and sales. You’ll be able to send and receive text messages from your computer (and mobile devices) to individuals or to groups with an organized, scalable workflow.
How does text messaging fit into the business landscape in 2021? Dive into texting trends, habits and preferences of more than 2,000 businesses and consumers across the country with our in-depth annual report The State of Texting. There’s valuable insight for businesses both large and small.