How to Email a Text

Sending and receiving texts via email is easier than you think

sending text messages by email
Getty Images (Lee Woodgate #717158081)

In order to email a text message, you'll need the following details to get started.

  • The recipient's phone number
  • The recipient's mobile carrier (i.e., Sprint)
  • The carrier's SMS (or MMS) Gateway address

Finding the Carrier and Gateway Address

If you do not know the name of your intended recipient's mobile carrier, there are several free websites that not only return the service provider but also its corresponding SMS and MMS Gateway addresses. Here are a couple which are easy to use and tend to be reliable.

If the above sites are not working as expected and you already know the name of the recipient's carrier, you can consult our SMS Gateway address list for major providers.

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. In the example below, my target's phone number is (212) 555-5555 and their carrier is Sprint.

This essentially becomes my recipient's email address, and the verbiage within my email will appear on their phone or other 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 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 larger than 160, or a message that includes images or almost anything else that is not basic text, may be sent via MMS.

With some providers you may need to use the MMS Gateway address instead to send text messages longer than 160 characters, but nowadays many 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 will receive your message in its entirety but it will be broken up into 160-character chunks (i.e., 1 of 2, 2 of 2). If it turns out that this isn't the case, it's best to split your message up into multiple emails while sending.

It should be noted that these are just guidelines, as each individual provider behaves slightly differently.

Receiving Text Messages in Your Email

As is the case when sending messages through email, behavior will vary from carrier to carrier when it comes to receiving responses. In most cases, however, if a recipient responds to the text message which you've sent you will receive that response as an email. Be sure to check your junk or spam folder as well, as these responses can be blocked or filtered more often than a traditional email might be.

Practical Reasons for Sending Text Messages via Email

There are many reasons why you might want to send or receive text messages through your email. 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 just more convenient than typing on a smaller device. Another practical application of this functionality would be to archive old text conversations in your email to save space on your mobile device, and also to store important messages for future reference.

Other Messaging Alternatives

There are additional options available for sending and receiving messages from your computer to a mobile recipient, many which run on multiple platforms and device types. Some of the more big name applications which support a level of computer or tablet-to-device messaging include AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger. There are also a ton of lesser-known alternatives on the market, although it is recommended that you use caution when sending any messages with potentially sensitive content through an unknown third-party.

In addition to the above, a quick Google search for "send free text message" returns a staggering number of results. Beware, however, as navigating these services is akin to walking through a virtual mine field. While some are in fact legitimate and safe, others have been known to sell user contact information to third-parties and transfer messages via unprotected and easily hackable methods.