How to Send & Receive Text Messages from Mac with SMS Relay for OS X
The Mac Messages app has long had support for sending and receiving iMessages, and now the latest versions of Messages for OS X support a new feature which allows you to send and receive SMS text messages as well. This basically means that you can talk to someone using an Android, Windows phone, ancient flip phone, with the standard SMS texting protocol right from your Mac Messages app.
Setting up SMS Relay is pretty easy but it requires a particular set of software and hardware requirements to work. First, the Mac must be running OS X 10.10 or newer, Messages must be configured on that Mac, there must be a nearby iPhone with iOS 8.1 or newer using the same iCloud ID as the Mac, and the texting feature must be enabled on the iPhone and confirmed on the Mac through Messages app. That may sound like a lot but it’s really not, basically it requires that you have modern versions of OS X and iOS with the Messaging feature enabled on both. Assuming that you meet the software and hardware requirements just outlined, let’s go ahead and add traditional texting support to the Messages app on the Mac.
Enable SMS Text Message Support in Mac OS X Messages App
You’ll need both the Mac and iPhone handy to finish the setup:
- From the Mac, open the Messages app if you haven’t done so already
- From the iPhone, open Settings app, go to “Messages” and then go to “Text Message Forwarding”
- From the iPhone Text Message settings, locate the name of the Mac you want to enable send/receive SMS Text Message support for and toggle the switch next to the Mac name to the ON position (in this example it’s called Yosemite Air)
- From the Mac, wait for a popup to appear that will say something like “To send and receive your iPhone text messages from (phone number) on this Mac, enter the code below on your iPhone”
- From the iPhone, enter the six digit numerical code shown on the Mac screen exactly, then tap on “Allow”
- The Mac will now verify the iPhone and Mac are authorized to communicate and send SMS texts through one another, and texting support will work in a moment
When finished, you can now both send text messages out from the Mac, and also receive text messages on your Mac in the Messages app. This makes it really easy to communicate with every possible mobile phone user out there right from the desktop of OS X, since SMS is the standard text messaging protocol and supported by quite literally every cellular phone and cell phone provider.
Remember; a blue chat bubble in Messages app indicates the recipient is using iMessage (an iPhone, Mac, iPad, etc), whereas a green bubble indicates the recipient is using SMS Text Messaging (any other cell phone, Android, Windows phone, Blackberry, iPhones without iMessage, an old flip phone, an ancient brick phone, etc).
Do be mindful that text messaging fees vary per provider, whereas iMessage is free, so you probably don’t want to bombard someone with a green bubble with a million and one texts from your computer. And yes, media messages (MMS) will also arrive to the Messages app for Mac, so if your Android phone texts you a picture it will come across to OS X just like any other picture message would, visible in the chat window and then to be found within the Messages attachments folder.
It’s certainly worth pointing out that Mac users who use AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in Messages or iChat can also send and receive text messages through the AIM protocol as well, but the messages do not come to the recipient from your phone number and instead get sent from your AIM name. That feature, and a similar ability in Skype, have existed for ages and works in a pinch, but really if you’re trying to hold a conversation with someone who uses normal texting (basically anyone who isn’t using an iPhone), then taking the time to setup SMS Relay is really the way to go.