How to forward SMS messages to your iPad and Mac

Messages on Mac
Messages on Mac (Image credit: iMore)

With iMessage's ability to keep all of your messages in sync across your iOS and Mac devices, it may well be the chosen communication tool for Apple users. However, not everyone uses Apple devices so texting with some folks still requires SMS.

We all have a few green bubble contacts, but those conversations don't have to be excluded from the auto-syncing magic across your Apple gear. Not only can you read your SMS messages on your iPad or Mac, but you can even compose and send them. We'll show you how.

How to get SMS messages on iPad and Mac

Using SMS via your iPad or Mac relies on a feature called Text Message Forwarding, though you'll need to make sure all of the devices you want to link up are signed in to iMessage using the same Apple ID first.

Setting up iMessage on iPad is similar to how you'd do it on your iPhone and you can check out our guide to setting up iMessage on Mac for more advice there.

Once that's set up, you can turn on Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone as follows:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Messages.

How to get SMS messages on iPad and Mac: Open Settings, scroll down and tap on Messages (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Text Message Forwarding.
  2. Toggle the ON/OFF switches on the iPad or Mac devices you want to get text messages on.

How to get SMS messages on iPad and Mac: Tap on Text Message Forwarding, toggle the switches to the on position for each device you want to get text messages on (Image credit: iMore)

Now, as long as your iPhone is turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network, any new SMS or MMS text messages (green text bubbles) you receive on your best iPhone are forwarded to your selected devices. You can also reply to these text and multimedia messages using your iPad or Mac too.

It may take a little while for everything to sync up when you first turn on the feature, but if it isn't working or you can't find the Text Message Forwarding setting, try turning off iMessage on all of your devices and turning it back on again.

Beyond that, make sure your devices all meet the minimum Continuity requirements. For SMS messaging, that's any Mac running OS X Yosemite or newer and it's any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 8 or newer.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud

Apple can keep all of your message history in iCloud so it's always updated and available on all of your Apple devices, even brand new ones. Here's how to turn that on.

  1. Make sure you're logged in to the correct Apple ID on your iPhone, iPad, and Macs that you want to be synced up.
  2. On your iPhone, go to Settings.
  3. Tap on your Apple ID account, which is shown at the top.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud on iPhone: Open Settings, Tap on your Apple ID account (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap iCloud.
  2. Toggle the ON/OFF switch for Messages.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud on iPhone: Tap iCloud, toggle the switch to the on position beside Messages (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Open Messages on your Mac.
  2. Click Messages in the menu bar.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud on Mac: Open Messages, click Messages in the menu bar (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Preferences.
  2. Click the iMessage tab.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud on Mac: Click Preferences, open the iMessage tab (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the checkbox next to Enable Messages in iCloud so all of your messages, SMS and iCloud, will sync to and from your Mac.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud on Mac: Click the checkbox next to Enable Messages in iCloud (Image credit: iMore)

Never miss a message

With your iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages now showing on your iPad and Mac, you'll never have to worry about missing an important message. Plus, you don't have to pull out your iPhone every time you want to text someone — even your green bubble friends — which is super convenient!

Updated May 2022: Updated for iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

Adam Oram

Adam Oram is a Senior Writer at iMore. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as an Apple Genius and as a Deals Editor at Thrifter. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food. Follow him on Twitter at @adamoram.