How to Text on the iPad

Connect to your iPhone or use an app to chat with friends and family

One really cool feature of the iPad is the ability to route a text message through your iPhone. This allows you to text people from your iPad even if they have an Android smartphone or a phone without any smart features at all. The iPad uses a feature called continuity to route the message through the cloud to your iPhone and then to the person you are trying to text. 

Even if you don't have an iPhone, there are a few ways you can send a text message to a friend using your iPad. But first, we'll take a look at setting up the text forwarding feature on the iPhone.

Person getting a message on iPad and iPhone
Lifewire / Emilie Dunphy
  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings > Messages.

  2. Tap Text Message Forwarding.

  3. This screen will list all of the Apple devices you own that can use the continuity feature. Tap the button beside your iPad to enable Text Message Forwarding for it. 

    Three iOS screens showing Messages icon, Text Message Forwarding, and iPad toggle to ON
  4. You will be prompted to type a code on your iPad to activate the feature. After you type the code, your iPad can send text messages to both iPhone users and non-iPhone users.

The iPad uses the same stickers, animations and drawings that are included with the iPhone's text messaging app, just make sure to upgrade to the latest operating system in order to ensure you have the most recent features.

How to Text on Your iPad If You Don't Own an iPhone

If you don't own an iPhone, there are still plenty of ways you can use your iPad for sending text messages. You can use Apple's service, alternatives to text messaging, or one of the many apps that provide free SMS messaging on the iPad. 


The Messages app can send text messages to anyone who owns an iPhone or iPad even if you don't own an iPhone. The iPad uses your Apple ID to route the message based on the email address associated with your Apple ID account. If the recipient doesn't own an iPhone but owns an iPad, he or she will need to have this feature turned on in settings as well.

To turn this feature on, tap Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. The iPad will list the email accounts associated with your Apple ID. Tap to put a check mark next to the email address(es) you want to use. 

Facebook Messenger

Sure, we like to pretend those Android people don't exist, but some people simply refuse to get on the Apple train. If you have friends or family using Android or (gasp!) a Windows Phone, you can still easily send them messages using the Facebook Messenger app. With over 1.5 billion users on Facebook, this solution should be enough to message almost anyone.  


The leading Voice-Over-IP service, Skype allows you to use your iPad much like a phone. In addition to sending text messages, you can send video messages, place phone calls, and video conference using the software. If you want to stay in touch with someone and can't use iMessage or FaceTime because they don't own an iPhone or iPad, Skype is the best alternative.  


Believe it or not, Snapchat actually works on the iPad. However, you have to jump through a small hoop to actually install it. Because there is not an official iPad version, when you search for "Snapchat" in the app store, tap iPad Only at the top of the search screen in the App Store and choose iPhone to search for iPhone only apps.

 Snapchat isn't true text messaging because you can only message people who have signed up for the service, but it offers a fun alternative to traditional text messaging. 


If you want to know what one of those messaging services would have looked like if it came out today, look no further than Viber. It has all the bells and whistles you would expect in a social messaging service, including Viber Wink, which deletes the message after it is viewed. You can also place phone calls and video calls and get involved in public chats. Viber also supports split-view multitasking, which is pretty cool.  

More Free Texting Apps

FreeTone (formerly Text Me) and textPlus both offer free texting to iPad users. It offers users a free phone number capable of sending SMS messages to the US, Canada and 40 other countries around the world. And textPlus is also a great option. Both FreeTone and textPlus allow phone calls in addition to text messages, but you may need to pay for in-app purchases to use all of their features.