Using Windows Live Messenger to Send & Receive SMS Text Messages

Sending SMS text messages from a mobile phone (often called ‘text messaging’ or simply ‘texting’) seems to be getting more and more popular each day. Social networking services like Twitter are making texting more commonplace than e-mail and IM combined.

Texting is today’s version of reaching out and touching someone. In fact, I received most of my birthday well-wishes via text message this year. That’s a first. I guess today’s fast-paced world is all about keeping things short (the first ‘s’ in SMS), simple and sweet.

So what if you have a phone that cannot send SMS text messages? (Do they still make those?) What if your mobile plan doesn’t include text messages? Or, what if you want to use the big keyboard and monitor on your computer instead of the tiny keypad and screen on your phone to stay connected with your texting-obsessed friends?

Many people don’t know Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger can be used to send and receive text messages in addition to IMs. It’s simply a matter of adding mobile phone information to your contacts or creating new entries specifically for texting. Do this step once and you will be able to send text messages to those contacts and receive their responses from your desktop computer, the same way you IM today. The first time you send a text to one of your contacts they will need to authorize using their phones. The best way to see this process for yourself is to send a text to your phone first.

Watch the short (1:20) video below to see how to set things up and start texting from your PC. Click on the video to start/stop playback. You can also double-click the video to switch to full screen mode. Press the ‘ESC’ key to return to normal playback inside the browser.

Note: This video requires installation of Microsoft Silverlight which is one of the products I work on and wrote about previously. Silverlight 1.0 will release later this summer. The one-time installation takes just a few seconds and you just need to click the “Get Silverlight” button below to get started. I will begin using Silverlight more in future posts for video, photo galleries, etc. Don’t worry, it’s safe. 🙂

Video: How To Send SMS Text Messages using Windows Live Messenger

27 Replies to “Using Windows Live Messenger to Send & Receive SMS Text Messages”

  1. I have been trying to get this to work for forever (as in years), so far with no luck. I will admit that I haven’t done much in the way of troubleshooting, but I’m pretty sure I set it up right. Maybe that video will help…

  2. Dude, I’ve been trying to get this settled, but no “texting” option appears for the certain contacts I wanna text. 🙁

  3. I keep getting this message when I try to send a test “This message was not sent because mobile messenging is temporarily unavailable resolved.” When I do a search on the WEB the complaints go back as far as two years. Is there any resolution that you know of?

  4. I have been trying to figure out how to set this option. When I go to my TOOLS/Options/Phone tab, the tick box for “allow people on my contacts list to send messages to my mobile device” is not accessible. How do I turn this feature back on?

    Appreciate the help,


  5. Hi Choo Yeung,

    Where are you connecting from? I believe some options are disabled based on origin of your Messenger connection. Have you tried from a different machine?

  6. I was using mobile text messaging successfully for about a week then all of a sudden all my mobile contacts
    fail with the message “Message Not Sent, Messages cannot be sent to this mobile phone”

    I went to my personal mobile phone set up and authorized the use but still get the same error message
    Any thoughts?

  7. I am trying to send my cousin a text but it keeps saying ” This message was not sent because messages can’t be sent to this mobile number.” What can I do to fixt it.

  8. When I try to send a text to a mobile phone on Windows Live Messenger I get “none of your contacts have a mobile number defined”– ANY ADVICE?

  9. I am able to send SMS text messages using the latest version of Windows Live Messenger with no problem. I simply follow the instructions located here. I am running Version 9 (Build 14.0.5027.908).

  10. If you reply to a message that was sent using Live Messenger it will be displayed on the sender’s computer. I am not familiar with a way to send a text to a computer user without that user sending an initial message.

  11. I have the same problem as Jim McLaughlin, except for one difference…
    I’m using Windows Live Messenger V2008 on two different computers. One is a Gateway FX (dont remember exact model, its approx 2 yrs old) running Vista Home Premium. On this computer, I can right-click a contact I have a mobile number for and send them a text message. However, on my second computer, a Lenovo S10 (small laptop) running Windows XP Pro with SP3, on the exact same messenger with the exact same contact (again with a mobile number listed), I cannot send a text message from the right click menu. Even from the main menu, I get the same message as Jim McLaughlin did.
    Any ideas on this? I’d really appreciate any help.

  12. I’m also have the same problem as most people, receiving the error saying “This message was not sent because messages can’t be sent to this mobile number.”

    I used to send messages all the time and now i can’t. I’m using the lastest version of Windows Live.

    Help would be greatly apreciated 🙂

  13. for those of you having issues, you should know:

    “* This service is only available with these carries: Alltel, Cingular, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon. Recipients require an SMS-enabled mobile device and may be charged for receiving and sending messages by their wireless carrier. Performance of this feature may vary depending on wireless carrier connectivity orother network limitations.”

    So i your trying to do international to someone that doesn’t have this, it wont work.

  14. “This message was not sent because messages can’t be sent to this mobile number.” i just started getting this error today. it worked fine yesterday and i only use it with one person and she didnt change anything on her phone and i wasnt at the PC since yesterday when it was working. there must be microsoft problems AGAIN ! If its not MS then what is it? its nopt my setup nor her setup on the phone so ANY ideas ?

  15. Hi. I’m also getting the grayed out checkbox and can’t access it. I have cingualr, which changed back to ATT I’ve tried to contact their tech support but they’re stumped too. If you knwo fo anythingplease let me know. I’m also blind, just to let you know that. Thanks so much if you can help at all.

  16. I am in a long distance relationship with a girl in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I live in the US. I am using Windows XP SP 2 on my desktop (homebrew) and my laptop (Dell Inspiron 8600). I have gotten her mobile number (her carrier is T-Mobile) and I have converted her number into a US number and mine into an Amsterdamian one using Talkster. Talkster successfully converted her number and we can communicate when she is not at school via her phone. However, I tried adding her mobile number into her contact card. The Netherlands even shows up in the drop-down list box. I enter her number (without the added 0 — which is how her phone works locally). However, I get this error when I save the number:

    “The mobile device information you entered for this contact is not valid for sending text messages.”

    I know the number is right…I have been able to call her via talkster and if her number was not right, I would never have gotten through with that method. Anything I am doing wrong?

  17. Hi j,

    It is my understanding the SMS text messaging features are restricted to U.S. numbers only. The fact that The Netherlands appears in the dropdown is likely a bug.

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