How to get text messages on your Mac

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

The best thing about Apple's Messages is the fact that all of your messages are unified across your iPhones, iPads, and Macs, as long as you're logged in to the same Apple ID on all devices. However, as much as we wish everyone was using iMessage and a blue-bubble user, SMS text messages are still popular because not everyone uses an iPhone. Did you know that you can still get text messages on your Mac? It's super easy, and we're going to show you how to get that up and running.

But before you get started with anything, you'll want to check to make sure that Messages on your Mac is set up properly.

How to turn on Text Message Forwarding

  1. Ensure that you're logged in to the same Apple ID on both your iPhone and Mac.
  2. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  3. Tap Messages.

  1. Tap on Text Message Forwarding.
  2. Toggle the ON/OFF switch on the Mac(s) you want to get text messages on, as well as any other devices like an iPad or iPod touch.

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 you receive on your iPhone (green text bubbles) are forwarded to your selected devices. You can also reply to these text and multimedia messages using your Mac too.

Apple now keeps all of your messages history in iCloud, so it's always updated and available on all of your Apple devices, even brand new ones.

How to Enable Messages in iCloud

  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.

  1. Tap iCloud.
  2. Toggle the ON/OFF switch for Messages.

  1. Open Messages on your Mac.
  2. Click Messages in the menu bar.

  1. Click Preferences.
  2. Click the iMessage tab.

  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.

If message syncing or text forwarding is not working

If you're having some issues with getting your messages synced in iCloud or even getting your text, then you should try the following:

  1. If you've accumulated a lot of messages, then Messages in iCloud may just require some extra time to get everything uploaded and synced. You could cut down on file size to help the process go by faster. Go to iPhone Settings, then General, tap on iPhone Storage, and then find Messages. Select the type of media you want to get rid of, then tap on Edit to choose files and then delete them with the Delete button.
  2. Make sure that you're using the same Apple ID on your Mac as well as your iPhone. This is one of the most important steps, and if you're using two different accounts, your messages won't be synced and text message forwarding won't work.
  3. Try turning off text message forwarding on your iPhone and then toggle it again, making sure it's with the same Apple ID.
  4. Make sure that your iPhone is connected to a working Wi-Fi or cellular connection. If you have no signal, then you won't be able to get messages and they won't be forwarded to your Mac either. Try toggling the Wi-Fi off and back on first, as this may fix any connectivity issues.
  5. If toggling the Wi-Fi off and back on did not work, try reconnecting to the network. To do this, first forget the Wi-Fi network you're on. Then reconnect to it as you normally would.
  6. If none of the above worked, you may need to Reset your network settings. Your data and apps will remain as they are, but you'll need to input those Wi-Fi passwords again.

Any questions?

That's it! As you can see, setting up text message forwarding is super easy, and it's pretty great to be able to send texts directly from your Mac. If it's not working for you, the solutions we provided should fix most issues. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.

Updated July 2019: Updated through macOS Catalina.

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Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.