How to Use the Gmail SMS Feature
Article by George Norman
On 31 Oct 2008
The development team at Google has decided to give the built-in chat feature SMS capability – this is to say that you can use your Gmail account to send text messages to a friend's phone. According to Keith Coleman, product manager with Google, the feature may not be available in some users’ Gmail Labs, but it will definitely get there by the end of next week. The other catch is that for the time being you can send SMS messages only to US phones (sorry Europe and the rest of the civilized world).

Here are the step by step instructions that you must follow in order to turn on the SMS chat feature:
1. Access your Gmail account. If you do not have one, use this occasion to register.
2. Once in, click the “Settings” tab in the upright corner of the screen (that’s where it is on my machine).
3. Click the “Labs” tab
4. Locate the “Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat” option and click “Enable”. The “Send SMS” text option should be added to people in your chat list.
5. Enter the 10 digit area code and phone number of the person you wish to send an SMS to – if that person isn’t already on your list of friends, that is. For the contacts in your list that you already entered a phone number, sending an SMS message is as simple as selecting the “Send SMS” option.

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The first time you send an SMS message to a friend’s phone, you will be assigned a certain number. Your friend will see that same number every time you send him a message – the number will not change as it does in similar applications, nore will it appear as a short number. If your friend wants to reply, all he has to do is send a message to that number and you will receive it in Gmail.

The way I see it, there are several advantages to using this feature. The first one is that you can keep chatting even if your chat partner has to go offline for some reason – remain in front of your computer and send messages directly to that person’s mobile phone. The second advantage is that you can send SMS by typing on a keyboard, which is way more comfortable than some phone keyboards. The third advantage is that the service is free.



Tags: Google, Gmail
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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