How to Text From My Laptop to a Cell Phone
By Steve McDonnell
Text messaging isn't relegated to just cell phones; they can also be sent from a laptop if you don't have a text messaging service, if you've used up your monthly text message allowance or if you find yourself in a location with a Wi-Fi signal but no cell signal. You have several texting options by accessing a website, sending an email or using Google Voice. Except for the latter, you'll need to know which wireless carrier your text message recipient uses.
Text Via Email
You can send a friend an email that will be delivered as a text message if you know his mobile phone number and which wireless carrier he uses. When he replies to the text, you'll get a reply to your email. Create a new email on your laptop and type the text message in the email body. Address it to your friend's 10-digit mobile phone number followed by a suffix, depending on his carrier. For example, for the phone number 800-555-1212, type the email address as email@example.com for AT&T, firstname.lastname@example.org for T-Mobile, email@example.com for Sprint or firstname.lastname@example.org for Verizon. Messages longer than 140 characters are delivered as multiple text messages.
Text Via Carrier Website
Some carriers also let you text subscribers directly from their websites. For example, you can go to the Verizon text messaging site (see link in Resources) and text up to 10 Verizon subscribers at once, even if you're not a Verizon subscriber. Other wireless service providers only permit subscribers to send messages through their websites. Sprint customers can log in to their online accounts, open the Web Texter site and send text messages with their laptops. Messages longer than 140 characters are delivered as multiple text messages.
Text Using Google Voice
If you have a Google Voice account and you live in the U.S. or Canada, you can send and receive text messages with your Google Voice number, just as you would with a mobile phone. There's no need to know the recipient's carrier when you text through Google Voice. Log in to your Google Voice account (see link in Resources), click "Text," type the recipient's phone number and text message and then click "Send." You'll receive a reply to the message in your Google Voice Inbox, which uses an interface similar to Gmail.
Text Using a Free SMS Website
You can also text from your laptop using a free text messaging website. The messages are usually accompanied by an advertisement, which enables the provider to offer the service for free. As with sending a text message by email, you'll need to know the recipient's mobile phone number and carrier. Some of the free text messaging sites include Send SMS, A Free SMS and Send SMS Now (see links in Resources). Most free text messaging websites do not require you to register before you send a message. Messages longer than 140 characters are delivered as multiple text messages.
You can send a message over Wi-Fi from your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air running OS X Mountain Lion to an iPhone user with iMessage enabled. Launch the Messaging app, enter the recipient's phone number or email address, compose your message and send it. If the recipient doesn't have an iPhone, or has an iPhone but hasn't enabled iMessage, you won't be able to send the message to his cell phone. However, if the recipient has an Apple device with iMessage enabled, such as an iPod, iPad, iTouch or Mac, the message will be delivered to this device or devices.
Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.