Sending and receiving texts via email is easier than you think
To send a text message by email, you use the SMS or MMS gateway of your recipient’s carrier and enter the recipient’s cellphone number as the address. To email a text message, you need:
- The recipient’s phone number
- The recipient’s mobile carrier (AT&T, for example)
- The carrier’s SMS (or MMS) gateway address
Finding the Carrier and Gateway Address
If you don’t know which carrier your intended recipient uses, you can look it up at several free websites that return the service provider and its SMS and MMS gateway addresses when you enter a phone number. These two sites are easy to use and reliable:
If you already know the name of the recipient’s carrier, you can consult an SMS gateway address list for the SMS and MMS gateway addresses.
The gateway details are key, as they’re used to construct your recipient’s address in the same fashion that you would an email address. For example, if the recipient’s phone number is (212) 555-5555 and the carrier is Verizon, you address your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The text in the body of your email appears on the recipient’s phone or another mobile device in the form of a text message.
What’s the Difference Between SMS and MMS?
When it comes to texting, there are two kinds of messaging available from carriers:
- SMS: Short Message Service
- MMS: Multimedia Messaging Service
For most providers, the maximum length of a single SMS message is 160 characters. Anything longer than 160 characters or a message that includes images or anything else that is not the basic text is sent via MMS.
With some providers, you may need to use the MMS gateway address to send text messages longer than 160 characters, but nowadays many providers handle the distinction on their end and split up your texts accordingly on the recipient’s side. So, if you send a 500-character SMS, there’s a good chance that your recipient receives your message in its entirety, although it may be broken into 160-character chunks. If it turns out that this isn’t the case, it’s best to split up your message into multiple emails before sending.
These are just guidelines, as each provider behaves slightly differently.
Receiving Text Messages in Your Email
As is the case when sending messages through email, behavior varies from carrier to carrier when it comes to receiving responses. In most cases, however, if a recipient responds to a text message that you sent, you receive that response as an email. Check your junk or spam folder, as these responses can be blocked or filtered more often than a traditional email might be.
Practical Reasons for Sending Text Messages via Email
You might want to send or receive text messages through email for several reasons. Perhaps you’ve reached the monthly limit on your SMS or data plan. Maybe you lost your phone and need to send an urgent text. It could be that you’re sitting in front of your laptop, and it’s more convenient than typing on a smaller device. Another practical application of this functionality is to archive old text conversations in an email to save space on your mobile device or to store important messages for future reference.
Other Messaging Alternatives
Additional options are available for sending and receiving messages from your computer to a mobile recipient, many of which run on multiple platforms and device types. Some of the big-name applications that support a level of computer- or tablet-to-device messaging include Apple’s Messages app and Facebook Messenger. A ton of lesser-known alternatives is on the market, although you should use caution when sending any messages with potentially sensitive content through an unknown third party.
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