Sending SMS via Email

How to send a text to a mobile phone with email

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There are many scenarios in which email is great. It is ubiquitous and easy to use. Everyone has it. But there are some situations when a simple text message can be effective and provide a more reliable method of communication.

This is why sending text messages through email is an interesting concept. Referred to as an “SMS Gateway”, all major cell carriers provide a service that will bridge messages from email to SMS, and often vice-versa. This works by assigning every phone number an email address according to their carrier. These are often in the form PhoneNumber@ACarrierDomain.tld. When a person sends an email to that address, it will be routed through the servers of the carrier to an SMS. This extra step can lead to extra scrutiny by a third party, since it greatly increases the number of systems that the message has to pass through, so I cannot suggest using it for any sensitive information, no different than SMS or any other method of email.

You can test this really quickly. Open your email and type in your phone number (do not include the nation code (1 for US) at the front), followed by the suffix for your carrier in the chart below. Add a subject and whatever body you want. It should probably be in plain text. Using the SMS suffix is faster but the MMS one allows a second message to stay in the same “conversation” on the phone, as it will send from the same number. If your carrier is not listed, a search will yield it for you.

Carrier SMS Suffix MMS Suffix
AT&T @txt.att.net @mms.att.net
Verizon @vtext.com @vzwpix.com
T-Mobile @tmomail.net @tmomail.net

Take care not to send an excessive number of texts, as your carrier may block your email from sending through their gateway, but I have sent many texts and have had no restrictions. Standard messaging rates may apply depending on carrier, so if you pay by the text do take care.

Based on how email works, the process of sending an SMS through email is very simple. All that is required is an account, an internet connection, and a device to send from. This simplicity (such as the lack of a SIM card requirement on the sending device) opens up many possibilities for usage in internet of things devices. One can set up a Raspberry Pi weather station that is connected to the internet that can send weather updates from your house to your phone at work, making it more accurate to you. There are infinite other possibilites, such as making a garage door “smart” with opening notifications.