How to Get Text Messages on Your Mac

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Mac computers are capable of working hand in hand with your iPhone. Have you ever missed an important text message while deep in your work? If so, it's easy to receive text messages on your Mac so you can be sure it never happens again.

This guide is for all Mac models including the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro models running macOS Catalina (10.15) through OS X El Capitan (10.11) and for iPhones with iOS 13, iOS 12, and iOS 11.

Understanding the Difference Between Text Messages and iMessages

iMessages are Apple's unique messaging service that sends messages using an internet connection. iMessages are sent and received via Apple's Messages app, which comes standard on all iPhones and Macs. iMessages can only be sent between Apple devices. Other messages are sent as SMS messages or text messages and can be sent to any device, including Android.

Types of iMessages

Using the Messages app, you can receive both SMS and MMS messages, as well as Messages from all Apple devices. Using the Message app, you can send images by dragging and dropping them into the text field. You can also send emoji, files and voice memos using the on-screen interface.

Within the Messages app, blue text bubbles are messages sent between Apple devices using iMessages. Green text bubbles are SMS or MMS messages sent between Apple devices and Android devices.

How to Get Text Messages on Your Mac

You need to do a little setup work before you receive text messages on your Mac.

  1. Log in to your Mac and iPhone using the same Apple ID. This is how messages are sent and received between both devices.

    To see which Apple ID your devices are using, tap Settings, then tap your Apple ID on your iPhone. Scroll to view which devices are logged into which Apple ID.

  2. On your iPhone, open Settings.

  3. Scroll down and tap Messages.

  4. Tap Text Message Forwarding and toggle the switch to the on position for the Mac you want to receive your text messages on.

    Messages settings on iPhone

    Have an iPad? This is where you can make the choice to receive text messages on that device as well. Simply toggle on all the devices you want to use to receive messages.

  5. On your Mac, open the Messages app and click Messages > Preferences in the Messages menu bar.

    Mac desktop showing Messages Preferences link
  6. Click the iMessage icon at the top of the preferences screen.

    Messages general preferences on Mac showing iMessage tab icon
  7. Click Enable This Account to receive text messages using your Apple ID.

    Messages system preferences on a Mac
  8. Place a check mark in front of the phone number and email addresses you want to use for messaging.

    Messages preference screens for Mac

    Now, you've synced your text messages to your iPhone and your Mac.

Using an Android with a Mac? Unfortunately, the Messages app only works with iPhones using the iMessage encryption. However, you can receive and send messages using Android Messages.

How to Troubleshoot When You're Not Receiving Text Messages on Your Mac

If you are having trouble receiving messages on your Mac, try these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Reset the Messages app by closing it and then relaunching it.

  2. Restart your Mac. To restart, click the Apple icon > Restart.

  3. SIgn out of the Messages app and then sign back in using your Apple ID. To do this, open Messages and click Preferences > iMessage > Sign Out.

  4. Open Messages and click Preferences > iMessage > Enable This Account to make sure Enable This Account is checked in the Messages app preferences.

  5. Confirm you are connected to the internet. Messages can't be received without a good internet connection. Try disconnecting and reconnecting your internet from your Mac.

  6. Still not receiving text messages? Your Mac might be due for a check-up at the Apple Genius Bar. Schedule an appointment for help with troubleshooting the Messages app on your Mac.