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. ūüôā

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

Tip: Inline Search Add-In for Internet Explorer

Now that Windows Vista is nearing release, I will start posting short tricks and tips to help newbies navigate the new interface and associated applications. This will only happen occasionally as I stumble across little-known features I find useful.

I have been running pre-release builds on my laptop (IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T43p) since¬†Beta 2. There are many substantial changes so there will be many frustrating moments as we unlearn familiar techniques and become more efficient with this “operating system of the future.”

These hints will help me down the road as well when I forget how to do something or while upgrading another machine. I have also created a new Tips & Tricks category for future reference.

Today’s entry: Improving the default Find (not Search) behavior of Internet Explorer¬†(IE).

Find is what do when you¬†select the¬†Edit / Find on this Page… menu (or press Ctrl+F).¬†Whereas search is what you do when using Live Search, Google, Ask, etc.¬† Find, for the purposes of this post, is for finding text on the page you are currently viewing while search is for locating all sorts of content and information on the Web.¬† Now that that is all cleared up.

This tip works for IE 5.5 and later including the new IE 7.0 for Windows XP and IE 7.0 for Windows Vista.

Follow the steps below to get going:

  1. Download & Install the Inline Search for Internet Explorer Add-In (requires you to close your browser)
  2. Re-open IE
  3. Visit your favorite page ( is my default homepage)
  4. Press Ctrl+F (or use the menu as described above)
  5. Start typing in the pane that appears at the bottom of your browser window

As you type, matches will be highlighted.

  • To find the next match,¬†press F3
  • To find a previous match, press Shift+F3
  • Highlight all matching strings on the page by clicking the ‘Highlight’ button
  • To stop searching and close the pane,¬†press Esc

That’s it. Now you can search a page quickly using the keyboard.¬†Also, you no longer have an ugly window appear and partially block the page you are searching in your browser. Even cooler is¬†how the add-in¬†highlights matching terms as you type and includes the option to highlight all matches.


Demo: Sharing a Picture via E-mail

Being an avid digital photographer I am often faced with the challenge of quickly sharing the pictures I¬†take with my friends and family.¬† I own and operate quite a few web sites so, for me, it is more of a question of “quick” and “convenient”¬†vs. “cost” or “access.”

Most people don’t have web sites they can copy their photos to so when faced with the same challenge of sharing their photos they make one of¬†three choices:

  1. Leave the photos on their camera’s (or phone’s) memory card and carry the camera with them for impromptu, in-person¬†slideshows at the next gathering.
  2. Upload their photos to one of the online printing and sharing services (Kodak, Shutterfly, EZPrints, SmugMug or Flickr to name several) which either requires lots of time, account registration, software installation and/or money.
  3. Attach the photos to an e-mail message which is then sent to everyone in their circle.

I have never been a big fan of #1 as memory cards are for storing new photos in my opinion.  I use the services in #2 whenever I order prints.  Some of those services require a monthly subscription or a print order or else the shared photo albums they provide are eventually deleted.  They are still very viable and reliable services, however.  As an Internet purist (in most cases) I absolutely abhor #3.

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