Sending text messages from your computer

Do you hate touchscreen? I sure do! More than touchscreen, I hate when I have to write something using a touch screen. This is why, I have been trying and using different solutions that allows me to send text messages from my computer with a real (mechanical) keyboard!

Foreword

Please note that this guide is based on Android phones and is desktop "OS" agnostic.

If you are using Apple phones and computers, then have a look here.

Under Windows Phone, check what Cortana can do for you.

However, some apps I am talking about are also probably working on Apple and/or Windows phones. Be sure to check your app store!

MightyText

MightyText is a free app that can be downloaded via the Play Store. The setup is straightforward: it will "only" ask you to give access to your Google account from the phone, and the same thing on your computer. So that both your devices all linked together thanks to this common account.

On your computer, MightyText can be accessed from various ways :

  • From a webpage : meaning it will run on any computer that can run a web browser ;
  • There is also a desktop client for Macos and Windows, but not for Linux ;
  • You can also use an extension for the Chrome browser, but not from Firefox.

Now, in my opinion it is best to have the MightyText app always running on your desktop, so that you don't miss any text / notification and can reply asap. Which means, depending on your OS and browser of choice, you might have limited options. Let's say for example, you are running Linux and using Firefox, then your only choice will be to leave a Firefox tab always open... This might not be a problem for most people, but I personally hate to have too many tabs open... This, and only this, is a no go for me.

As you might have noticed, I also talked about receiving notifications on your computer. Indeed, with this kind of apps, you can also do that. Again, it can be very useful if like me you are only using webmail and don't want to leave an extra tab and/or app open in the background to receive new email notifications.

Thanks to MightyText, you'll receive a destop notification when you receive an email on your phone, then you just have to browse to your webmail, and take action.

Supposedly, you are able to filter which apps from your phone are allowed to send notifications all the way up to your desktop. However I couldn't find how to do that, and it means a lot of spam on my desktop. Especially when I was using Telegram on the desktop to chat, I was receiving notifications from both the Desktop client and the mobile client through the MightText app! Another no go...

EDIT 22/09/2017: Thanks to their support on Twitter, this is how we filter apps notifications:
Yes, you can customize this by visiting the MightyText web app -- Phone tab -- Apps section. Let us know if that works for you.

This led me to check another well known player: Pushbullet.

Pushbullet

Pushbullet configuration works almost the same way than MightyText does. You need to give access to your Google account to all devices that you want to be linked together. However, it supports both Google and Facebook accounts, while MightyText only supports Google accounts.

Once again, when the app is installed on your mobile phone, you can access it from your desktop as follows:

  • From a webpage : meaning it will run on any computer that can run a web browser ;
  • There is also a desktop client for Windows.. and just Windows ;
  • You can also use an extension for the main browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari.

In my opinion, this is much better than the other app mentioned before as it gives you a lot more possibilities. Like I said before, thanks to the browser extensions, you now have the app running and listening to incoming messages and notifications all the time your browser is open and without having to waste a tab. It is even foolproof, you won't forget to open the tab!

Here again, we can choose to filter notifications, and this time, I found it pretty straightforward to set it up. Which means no spamming on my desktop, and only receiving the desired notifications. I'll get notifications for emails, appointments and of course text messages, which of course I can reply to with my keyboard.

But what about sending messages?

This is the main usage for these two apps, and it works well... most of the time!

About 95% of the time, it "just works". You receive a desktop notification about a new text. Just click on it, it will open the message and you can directly reply to it. Contact names appears the same way they would on your phone. If you want to create a new message, just select your contact's name inside the browser extension (for example) to write your text. Send, it! Done.

Then, 5% of the time... the message will stay "stuck" on your computer and won't be relayed to you phone, hence they won't be sent. At the time of writing, it only happened to me when I killed the app on phone (beware with the "kill all" function of Android phones). In those case, I just started the app again on the phone, and it fixed it.
There could also be issues with battery management where the phone puts the app to sleep in order to reduce battery usage. If you have issues about not being able to send SMS after some time, then make sure that Android no longer optimize the battery for this app.

Last but not least, all the messages sent / received from the computer will continue to appear in your default messages app, just like if you sent them from the phone.

Closing words and a few other alternatives

As we have seen those apps can be very handy, especially if you hate using touchscreen. It is also a good way to synchronize your phone and computer and remove extra app on the desktop, close a few browser tabs, etc.

In my opinion, the fact that Pushbullet offers browser extensions for all the major browsers is a great plus! Moreover, I feel it easier to navigate in the app, find what you are looking for, and tweak it (ie. the notification thingy). In a few words, we could say that Pushbullet is more basic, maybe even less "bloated". Like I didn't see any ads in Pushbullet, while I see some using MightyText webpage.

Now, if you want to follow that road but feel to restricted by those 2 apps, you can also have a look a few other alternatives such as Join or Pulse. They look like pretty strong competitors as well.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it might have helped you. Better yet, given you faith again in your texting business!

Do not hesitate to let me know if you use any other similar app, most especially if you love it.