Sending text messages is one of the most used functions of smartphones, so it’s something you likely do dozens of times a day — if not more. However, if you’re somebody that works at a desk for long periods of time, it’s jarring to constantly switch between your computer and your phone.
If you use a dedicated messenger like WhatsApp, you could run it on your desktop using an Android emulator, but this is a complicated setup and would likely be choppy. If you’re not up for this, there are some awesome solutions that allow you to send actual text messages from your phone on your PC without the hassle of emulation. We’ve covered many of these services individually in the past, but this time we’re going to test the apps and decide which is your best option for texting from your computer.
Note that these apps use your existing phone number to send messages; if you’re looking to send SMS messages for free online check out our list of ways to do so.
First up is MightyText, a service that we’ve reviewed before and that you’ve likely heard of. Setting it up couldn’t be simpler; just grab the app from Google Play, and when you open it, you’ll need to choose the Google account that’s tied to your phone. Grant the app the permissions it needs on the next screen, and the phone portion is done.
Now, you have a choice. You can use the MightyText web app in any browser you like right away — all you have to do is sign in with the same Google account. This is the barebones option, however. You won’t receive notifications for new texts outside of a bubble on the page.
If you don’t want to install any extensions, or you work in an area where you can have your phone ringer turned up and be notified that way, this will work for you. You’ll see new text messages and even incoming calls.
If you want on-screen pop-ups whenever your browser is open, though, you’ll need to have a compatible extension installed. Aside from showing new messages, the extension allows you to easily text a link to the page you’re viewing, open the page on your phone, or jump right to MightyText. You can also send messages right from the extension, so all but the most causal users will probably want to have it installed.
If you’re using Safari or Opera, the webpage is your only option, as those browsers don’t support notifications right now. Chrome and Firefox users can install the MightyText extension, but Firefox users will have to install a separate add-on first as a workaround. Internet Explorer’s fans will have to monkey with some settings, as well.
Head to MightyText’s app page for links to all these extensions and instructions.
Aside from the typical browser extensions, you can also install the tablet app to take advantage of the service from your Android tablet. Finally, MightyText also provides a Gmail/Facebook Chrome extension, which lets you text right from your inbox or Facebook page.
Frankly, though, this particular extension isn’t that useful; email is distracting enough, and it’s no secret that Facebook is an archenemy of productivity, so they’re the last places you want to be when replying to a text message. Stick to your preferred browser’s solution.
Now that we’re past the setup, let’s examine how MightyText actually handles. You’ll be pleased to know that it’s a slick solution; the website allows you to see recently contacted people on the side and a full view of one conversation in the middle.
If you’re more of a power user, texting many people at once, you can switch the layout to Power View using the gray icon at the top. This lets you see and work with six threads; you’ll feel like an airplane pilot with all the controls!
MightyText’s functions are numerous and easy to use. Since it syncs with your Google account, you don’t have to worry about any cables or being on the same WiFi network as your PC. Your phone can be in another house and MightyText will work fine — as long as your phone is on and connected to a data network.
Aside from texting, you can also use it to start a call from your phone (which is kind of weird), view recent attachments from MMS you’ve received, view your contacts, and check out your apps. None of these are essential for the app to function or especially helpful, but it’s nice to have an all-in-one web interface for managing your phone.
There are a few settings you might want to tweak, but many of them are only open to users of the Pro service. For $5 per month or $40 per year, you’ll get access to the premium features of MightyText, including themes, message scheduling, the ability to store messages indefinitely, and contact lists. It’s a bit pricey for what you get, so only those who use the service on a daily basis need apply.
Heading to the Settings tab on the left of the page will allow you to tweak MightyText. You can choose how long they’ll store your messages and whether to send group messages as MMS or not. One noteworthy setting is the ability to pick whether the Enter key sends the message or not — if you typically send long messages or mistype, it’s a good idea to force yourself to click “Send.”
The only other setting you may want to take a look at is the privacy — when this is enabled, new message pop-ups only show the name of the sender and not the body text. If you’d like to change how long the pop-up sticks around, you can do that here too.
The Android app hasn’t gotten much attention thus far, and that’s because it’s really just a required part of MightyText’s functionality. If you open it up, you get a bland screen; it really only serves to give you some options and the ability to unlink your device if you need to.
MightyText can upload your device’s photos and videos to its web app, but you probably already have Dropbox or a similar service do this, so it’s not necessary. MightyText can also sync your phone notifications to your PC, but that’s branching out further than the scope of this review.
Overall, MightyText is a solid option for your PC texting needs. It’s easy to set up and works wherever your phone is, and while it has a lot of features, it’s clean and never feels bloated. Whether you choose to be notified with the browser extensions or just use it to text occasionally when you’re focused on your computer, you really can’t go wrong with MightyText.
Pushbullet is an awesome service that allows your Android and PC to communicate effortlessly. We’ve explained all it can do previously, but let’s look at its text-messaging abilities in comparison to the others.
To set up Pushbullet for texting you’ll need to install its Android app, and your choice of its Chrome extension, Firefox add-on, or Windows program. After you install the Android app, you’ll need to enable its notification mirroring service. The app will show you this after you open it and sign in to your Google account, but if you ever need it again head to Settings > Security > Notification Access and check the Pushbullet box.
Once you’ve done this on Android, install your browser extension and sign in using the same Google account, just like MightyText. The ability to respond to text messages comes whenever Pushbullet notifies you of a text from your default SMS app; you’ll see an option to reply on the bubble.
A rudimentary pop-up box allows you to compose a reply. There’s no support for attaching images, emoji, or GIFs like in MightyText.
This is the extent of what Pushbullet can do with text messages. Don’t assume that it’s not worth your time; on the contrary, it’s a powerful tool that can do much more than just replying to SMS, including sharing files between devices and dismissing Android notifications.
If you use multiple devices, it’s an invaluable service, but since it can’t even compose a new message on PC, it’s not your best choice in this contest. MightyText is superior in every way to Pushbullet for PC texting.
AirDroid is another time-honored service that allows you to use your phone on your bigger-screen desktop. We’ve covered it previously, so you can find a full rundown of its features there. Like Pushbullet, we’ll focus only on its texting capabilities for this comparison.
To get started with AirDroid, install its Android app and open it up. You’ll be asked to create an account, which is a strongly recommended. AirDroid has no installations on your computer, so just head to the web portal when you’re ready. The easiest way to pair your Android with the web interface is to use a QR code, which the app will prompt you to do. If you don’t want to do it this way, just use your account login.
Once you’ve signed in, you’ll get a crisp desktop-looking interface, seen below.
From here, AirDroid allows you to manage your device’s files, music, contacts, and even its clipboard. You can also install apps from AirDroid if you like.
It’s a slick service that lets you do nearly anything you need with your phone. Of course, we’re interested in its messaging capabilities for now. When you click the Messages icon, it opens a window within the browser window.
The messages window works as expected. You can easily switch between conversations and attaching files and emoji is supported. A search box is also available in the upper left that will scan the body of your messages — a great feature if you need to recall something but don’t remember its recipient.
Also appreciated is the option to switch between “Enter” and “Ctrl + Enter” for sending a message — MighyText requires you to click “Send” with your mouse if you choose not to make Enter send. When you get a new message, you’ll receive a pop-up in the corner of the AirDroid window, but there’s no way to enable notifications anywhere like MightyText has. If you’re not in the window when you receive a message, you might miss it.
AirDroid features a premium service for $2 per month or $20 per year, but it doesn’t offer many upgrades in the texting realm. The only new feature you’ll enjoy if you use AirDroid exclusively for texting is the ability to add more devices to your account, so if you have more than one phone this may come in handy. Otherwise, the free service will suffice.
The phone side of AirDroid doesn’t offer much use to you. Besides providing the link to connect to the web interface, it includes a built-in task manager (which you shouldn’t use) and file manager if you don’t already have another one installed for some reason. Other than that, the app only offers some “recommended” junk apps and a few settings that aren’t crucial for its operation.
Overall, AirDroid is another solid option, and while it offers more than MightyText, it still does messaging well. However, I had problems with it on a university network, so be advised that if you’re in a business or university environment that has restrictions on Internet usage, you may need to choose another option.
While AirDroid has message search, MightyText’s ability to show you notifications of new messages anywhere — not just as a pop-up in its own tab — and its ability to work on any network (I have no problems using it at university) makes it more useful. Therefore, MightyText is still in the lead at this point.
SnapPea is another full-featured client that seeks to be a sort of iTunes for Android. You’re used to this process by now: snag the Android app to get started. You can choose to use SnapPea from the its web interface or its Windows program.
If you choose the Web option, you’ll need to sign into the app with your Google account, and then do the same online. For Windows, install the program, launch it, and then link your phone over WiFi with a passcode or via a USB cable. You’ll need to enable USB debugging if you want to use a cord — the app will show you how to do this.
Once you’re set up, you’ll be greeted with the main interface of SnapPea.
Like AirDroid, it’s more of an all-in-one management interface so it handles more than just texts. You can browse for new apps, watch your phone’s videos, and even back up your device with SnapPea.
Its messaging capabilities were inferior to all other previous contenders in my testing. I sent several messages to my phone using Google Voice and was not notified of any of them. Worse yet, even after several minutes they didn’t show up in the messaging section of SnapPea — as if I never sent them at all.
Perhaps there’s some sort of delay, but I was using the USB connection (since I had connection issues yet again) so there shouldn’t have been any problems. The only option SnapPea gives you in terms of messaging is to enable notifications for new SMS or not, so it’s a bit lacking. I wasn’t able to test the web interface, but it’s similar to the Windows client that it shouldn’t make a difference.
Overall, SnapPea is unsatisfactory. It has the unique feature of being able to use a USB cable if you’re having connection issues, as well as a choice between PC clients, but what’s the use if it doesn’t work as it should? AirDroid even has a prettier interface; SnapPea falls short in many ways.
The final challenger is EndlessJabber, a lesser-known client. It has an Android app and a web service, along with an extension for Chrome, so it fits right in with the gang. The developer linked to a Firefox extension in the app’s description, but it’s now defunct.
Once you open the app, you’ll have to choose the right account and if you want to sync old messages. The main interface is like all the others — you won’t find much except a few options and instructions on how to launch the web app. EndlessJabber also supports texting from tablets through its website.
The home screen is clean and similar to MightyText; you’ll find recent threads on the left, along with the other features of the app such as viewing your contacts and recent MMS photos. It claims to work best with EvolveSMS, but any app will do.
Though I hadn’t heard of EndlessJabber before, it was a pleasant surprise after SnapPea. Everything you expect is in the app, including attaching pictures, and it’s snappy. A Statistics screen lets you see who your most-contacted friends are as well as the number of messages sent per day. This is a neat feature if you like to keep track of your smartphone usage.
As expected, this app features a Pro subscription. For $2 per month, you’ll be allowed to access all the app’s features, including Jabber Mode, which sends messages faster than usual.
Other features include searching messages, scheduling, deeper statistics, and removing ads. It’s a reasonable price if you’re a power user of the service.
The Chrome extension functions like MightyText’s, except that you can’t compose new texts from it. You can choose what parts of the notification pop-up to enable, and clicking it will open a windows with EndlessJabber to respond to it.
EndlessJabber is currently running a Kickstarter to enrich its app. The goal has already been passed, but you can check it out if you’d like to help them become even better.
And The Winner Is…
After examining each app thoroughly, here is their rank them from best to worst:
MightyText wins due to its dead-simple interface and setup, variety of extensions and apps, and notification system. Its only shortcomings are the lack of a search feature and an expensive Pro plan.
EndlessJabber is a close second. It’s almost a twin to MightyText, but falls behind because its lacks an interactive pop-up for each contact, a Power view, and a working Firefox extension. It’s still an excellent choice, though, and should become even better after its Kickstarter ends.
AirDroid is a great service; it does too much to focus on just messaging, however. There’s nothing wrong with its messaging functions, and if you need a full-fledged suite then it’s your best choice. But its limited notifications and potentially problematic login system keep it from being the winner.
SnapPea was a disappointment. I’m not sure why it barely functioned, but an app can have all the great features it wants — if they don’t work, it’s useless. This was the impression that SnapPea gave. If you hate AirDroid but want a full client, give it a try, but for most the former is far superior.
Pushbullet comes in last this time, but it really isn’t meant to be compared to any of the above. If you only want to quickly reply to incoming messages, it will serve you just fine. For others it simply doesn’t offer enough to be considered, though you still should check out the service.
Need a way to text from your desktop without an existing phone number? We’ve reviewed Pinger Desktop, a great way to do so.
Did we miss any other options? Which PC texting service do you use? Leave a comment and let us know!