Send Messages & SMS from Web & Email with a URL Trick
Mac and iOS users can start iMessage conversations and send text messages from the web, email, or anywhere else a link can be clicked, by using a custom URL to launch the Messages app. Using this you can start an iMessage chat to any other iMessage user or send them an SMS through the Messages app (from an iPhone, or assuming SMS relay is setup on the Mac). This is a neat little trick that is quite similar to starting a FaceTime call from a URL or the web and it can be useful for staff directories, internal webpages, emails, HTML signatures, or even if you just want to offer a simple method of contact through a general webpage.
The secret to starting an iMessage conversation from a link is structuring the URL correctly. Those who are familiar with HTML will recognize this quickly, as it’s simply using an anchor tag with the reference being the iMessage application protocol rather than http or ftp.
Using a URL to Send an iMessage
Here are how these iMessage links may look, you can specify an email address, a phone number, or an Apple ID as the target. For example:
Thus, structuring the URL for the iMessage (or text message send from the iMessage app) would look like the following:
<a href="iMessage://4085551212">iMessage this number</a>
For a live example: hover over this link to see the URL, click on it to open message app with the provided number 408-555-5555, and no that is not a real number, but if you click on the link it will demonstrate how this URL trick works to launch the Message app to send the iMessage.
Embedded in an email could look something like the following, it’s a regular URL but the action is what’s different, triggering Messages app to launch with the recipient filled out.
Clicking on the iMessage URL will instantly launch the Messages app in OS X or iOS with the target recipient as the contact pre-filled in the message window.
As hinted before, this is really useful for internal staff directories and communications, embedding into emails, using as part of an HTML signature on the iPhone or iPad (or an HTML signature in the Mac Mail app too), or for just referencing on the wider web.
Longtime readers may recall we’ve covered a similar trick with custom links for SMS and iChat before, but now that the iMessage service has expanded broader it’s much more useful, particularly if you use it with email or an internal webpage.