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How to Enable Your Mac to Send and Receive SMS & MMS Text Messages

Did you know you can enable SMS and MSS correspondence on your Mac with Messages? You can.

But first, a little background.

SMS vs. MMS vs. iMessage

SMS is an abbreviation for Short Message Service. Basically, it’s a text message. However, an SMS message contains only text (no pictures or videos) and is limited to 160 characters.

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. With an MMS, you can send a message including pictures, video, or audio content to another device. It also requires a data package.

This is different than iMessage (or Messages) on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.

iMessage is Apple’s own instant messaging service that sends messages over the Internet, using your data. You must have an Internet connection to use the service. To send iMessages, you need a data plan, or you can send them over WiFi. If you use WiFi, there’s no cost, but if you use your cellphone’s data, it’s deducted from your data plan.

iMessage also syncs with your iCloud account, so if you lose your iPhone or get a new one, you can take your messages with you. Plus, if you have more than one Apple device, you can get your messages on your Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch.

However, SMS messages may not sync across your devices. But you can set up your iPhone and Mac so that the latter can send/receive SMS messages.

Receive and Send SMS and MMS Messages on Your Mac

To receive and send SMS and MMS messages on your Mac, your iPhone must have iOS 8.1 or later, and your iPhone and Mac must be signed in to Messages using the same Apple ID. If you’ve got this set up, then:

1) On your iPhone, go to “Settings > Messages.”

Screenshot of iPhone settngs screen with Messages outlined
Set up text messaging for your Mac in your iPhone settings.

2) Tap Text Message Forwarding. If you don’t see Text Message Forwarding, make sure you’re signed in to Messages using the same Apple ID on both your iPhone and your Mac.

3) Enable your Mac in the list of devices. In the graphic below, you can see that I’ve enabled both my iMac and my MacBook Pro.

Screenshot of Text Message Forwarding setting on an iPhone
You can select which devices can use your iPhone to send and receive SMS text messages.

4) On your Mac, open the Messages app. A six-digit activation code appears.

5) Enter this code on your iPhone, then tap Allow.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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  • Step 3 – for some reason, my new MacBook doesn’t show up as a device under my iPhone’s Text Message Forwarding.

    I am signed in with my Apple ID on my phone and Mac. And iPad, too. I tried signing out, shutting down and restarting. Still doesn’t show up.

  • No indication as to why I’d want to use iMessage as opposed to just SMS, esp since only Apple devices work with iMessage. How can I JUST/ONLY send SMS from my iPhone? And, why is this a secret?——-every writer addressing this subject never gets to that question.

  • Thanks, I need that!

    I prefer sending messages from my Mac with a keyboard over using an iPhone.

    The setting to allow SMS messages on my Mac got changed a while ago and I never could figure out what to do to get them back,