How to get SMS text messages on your iPad

SMS/MMS relay is part of Apple's Continuity feature. It lets you send and receive standard texts — the "green bubble" kind — through the built-in Messages app on your iPad, just like you've always been able to do on your iPhone. As long as your iPhone and iPad are online and as soon as your iPhone receives an SMS or MMS message, it will relay it through Apple's messaging servers to your iPad.

Continuity SMS/MMS relay requirements

In order for SMS/MMS relay to work, both your iPhone and iPad need to be:

  1. Connected to the internet.
  2. Logged into the same Apple ID (iCloud account).

Note: Your iPhone and iPad don't have to be on the same network, they just need to be online and able to connect to Apple's servers.

How to enable or disable SMS/MMS relay on your iPhone

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Messages.
  3. Tap on Text Message Forwarding.

  1. Turn On the option for forwarding to your iPad.
  2. Wait for your iPad to pop up an authorization code.
  3. Enter the authorization code on your iPhone.

How to send SMS/MMS on your iPad

Sending SMS/MMS on the Mac is just like sending an iMessage.

  1. Launch the Messages app on your iPad.
  2. Tap on the Compose Message button.
  3. Enter the phone number or name of the contact you want to text.

  1. Type your message.
  2. Hit Send.

How to reply to SMS/MMS on your iPad

Receiving SMS/MMS on the iPad is also identical to receiving an iMessage.

  1. Tap on a notification to quick reply or be taken straight to the Messages app.
  2. Launch the Messages app at any time to view or reply to an SMS/MMS.

Great add-ons for iPad

Your iPad could be even more useful with one of our favorite accessories.

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Apple Pencil (First Gen) (opens in new tab) ($100 at Amazon)

To Apple Pencil, or not to Apple Pencil: well, isn't the answer obvious? You should clearly Apple Pencil! This small but mighty iPad Air accessory can make all the difference as you're drawing, sketching, writing, and creating with your iPad. The Apple Pencil is easy to charge and allows you to have complete creative control over your iPad Air (2019), making you the true iPad master.

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ZUGU Protective iPad Case (opens in new tab) ($50 at Amazon)

Keep your iPad Air looking stylish and safe while still having fast access to all buttons and ports with the ZUGU Protective iPad Case, which allows your iPad Air to auto-sleep and wake up thanks to a dust-proof and scratch-proof magnetic cover. It comes in black, midnight blue, dark purple, and red color options, and is made from soft synthetic leather. It's designed for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which has True Tone flash and four speakers, while the 10.5-inch iPad Air does not have True Tone Flash and only has two speakers, so consider this when deciding whether to buy.

Updated July 2019: Updated through iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

1 Comment
  • So this works regardless of the iPad featuring LTE or not, I assume. There may be other ways if your iPad should itself have a mobile connection. But then you may do things not included in your subscription plan, and therefore be charged. (My own experience in the Netherlands.) So this Text Message Forwarding may be the "safer" way.
    Thanks, Luke! :-)