How to Retrieve SMS Messages While the Phone Is Disconnected

By Michelle Carvo

Updated October 10, 2017

Your SMS messages save to your phone's SIM card.
i George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You can't usually retrieve an SMS message that hasn't been delivered to your phone, but you don’t have to have your phone on you at all times to send and receive messages. You can use a number of options to retrieve messages while your phone is in another room, and some while your phone is disconnected entirely.

Check with Your Service Provider

Many mobile providers have an option to send and receive SMS messages without using your phone. T-Mobile offers Digits, Verizon has Messages+, and AT&T provides Messages. Check with your service provider. Note that these options may require you to pay for them, and will not work if your phone service has been terminated.

Use iMessage

The iMessage service is Apple’s alternative to traditional SMS messages. Messages are sent through Apple’s iMessage server and can be retrieved from any iCloud-connected Apple device. For instance, if your iPhone and Mac are both connected to iCloud, you can retrieve your iMessages from either device, even if the iPhone is disconnected or offline. The service works on the iPod Touch, all iPad models, the iPhone and all Mac computers and provides a good option for retrieving text messages while your phone is disconnected.

One limitation to iMessage is that it can only be used on Apple devices. Messages sent to non-Apple devices are sent as traditional SMS messages.

Use a Third-Party App

Another option to retrieve SMS messages while the phone is disconnected is to use a third-party texting app. Third-party texting apps enable you to text from multiple devices. Third-party options include:

  • Mysms. Mysms is an Android app that allows you to send and receive text messages from your phone and any other web browser or device that the app is installed on. It is similar to iMessage in that texts can be sent through the service to other mysms users, but is different to iMessage in that regular SMS texts can be sent or retrieved from multiple devices as well. Mysms works with Android phones and tablets as well as any computer with the Google Chrome browser and the mysms extension installed. Mysms offers both a free and premium service with the premium service including the ability to export messages, schedule messages to be sent later and access your full message history. MySMS uses your phone to send and receive new SMS messages, so your phone must be on and connected to use those features.
  • Pulse. Pulse is an Android app that enables you to send both SMS and MMS from any device. Messages are synced between the devices constantly which makes Pulse a good alternative to Mysms for retrieving messages when you don’t have your phone on hand. Pulse is a paid service with extra features such as the ability to schedule messages, support dual SIM cards and block callers.  Note that to send and receive new messages, your phone must be on and connected to the network.
  • Whatsapp. Whatsapp is not a traditional alternative to SMS messages as it does not allow you to send or receive texts from any mobile phone number. Instead, you can only text other Whatsapp users and each Whatsapp user must sign up with their mobile phone number to use the service. The app behaves much like iMessage but with the capability to send/receive messages from your phone and computer or other device with Whatsapp installed. Whatsapp is free and can be used in any country, making it an ideal choice if you need to reliably text friends or family in multiple countries.

Use a Secondary Number

One other option for retrieving SMS messages while your phone is disconnected is to use a secondary number. You can give this secondary number out to friends for them to text. You can then access these messages from any device. Free secondary number apps include Google Voice, Textfree and Sidekick. All three options work on both Android and iOS as well as on computers.