SMS text messages are a quick and convenient way to get in touch with someone, but as the month rolls on they can start to take a bite out of your wallet. For those in the know, Gmail offers a solution that can help keep your SMS cost in check.
How to SMS for free
If you have a Gmail account, from the convenience of your e-mail inbox, you can send SMS text messages for free.
- Log into the Labs section of Gmail Settings
- Enable the “SMS in Chat gadget”
- Click “Save Changes”
- If your Google Contacts are up-to-date, you can SMS immediately by typing the contact’s name in the ”Chat” box and selecting “Send SMS.”
- Otherwise, the first time you send to a contact, you can begin typing the phone number to where you would like to send the SMS into either the “Chat” or “Send SMS” box. You will be asked to name the contact and confirm the country and phone number. After the first time, you should be able to type the person’s name in the “Chat” box and select “Send SMS.”
- When the chat box opens, type your message.
- Any messages you send can be replied to by the recipient.
- The replies will appear in Gmail, either in a chat box or as an e-mail depending on whether you are online or offline when the reply is received.
Destinations / providers included
The list of destinations included is growing slowly, but includes some useful destinations already. In Israel, Orange and Pelephone are included (but not Cellcom or Mirs). All carriers in the United States are supported. A number of additional destinations are included as well.
You are allocated a quota of 50 messages to start. As you use them, the quota decreases. However, your quota will be replenished slowly with time or if someone replies to an SMS you send from Gmail at the ratio of 5 credits to your quota for every 1 message reply you receive. If you start running low, you can effectively “buy” more messages by sending an SMS to yourself (if you have a phone from a supported provider such as Orange or Pelephone) and replying.
How much money will you save by SMSing through Gmail when you’re at home or at work?