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How to Send and Receive Text Messages Without a Phone Plan or SIM Card

Those of you who are following our guide on Google Hangouts already know how to make and receive free Wi-Fi calls without a SIM card. Today, we’ll show you how to take it a step further and use your Google Voice number to send and receive text messages on the Google Voice website, in the Google Voice app, through your SMS messaging app, or through Hangouts – all without a phone plan or SIM card.

Limitations

There are two main limitations when it comes to sending and receiving text messages via Google Voice:

  • No international text messages: if you plan on sending free SMS messages to your friends and relatives in Europe, Asia, or any other place that isn’t the U.S. and Canada, you will run into a major roadblock. At the moment, the international support is limited only to receiving. Sending is possible only to the U.S or Canada.
  • No multimedia messages: Google Voice doesn’t support multimedia messaging. Pictures will simply be ignored, and neither party will receive any notification saying that the delivery was unsuccessful. Depending on how much multimedia messages are important for you, you might be better off using one of the alternatives described at the end of this article.

Setup Google Voice

Those of you who already have a Google Voice number can safely skip this step. Everyone else needs to choose a new Google Voice number from the available Google Voice numbers.

  1. Go to the Google Voice’s official page and log into your account.
  2. Select “I want a new number”.
  3. You have to enter a real phone number that will be used for confirmation. The good news is that you can later disable call and SMS notifications for this number.
  4. Click on “Call Me Now” to verify your registration.
  5. Select the number you would like to use.

Sending Messages

Google Voice is peculiar in how it works. When you send a text message from the default SMS app, it will be sent through your carrier. But when you send a text message from the Google Voice app, it will actually use your data or Wi-Fi connection, instead.

How to Send Texts from a Smartphone

  1. Make sure you have the Google Voice app installed on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Launch the Google Voice app.
  3. Click on the compose icon, located at the bottom left.
  4. Select the recipient.
  5. Compose your message and send it by clicking on the triangle icon next to it.

How to Send Texts from a Computer

  1. Open Google Voice on your computer.
  2. Click on the ‘Text’ button, located at the top left of the page.
  3. Enter your recipient’s phone number.
  4. Type your message.
  5. And click ‘Send’.

Receiving Messages

Every time someone sends an SMS to your Google Voice number, it’s received by Google and placed in your inbox, which is exactly what we want. But there’s also an option to have Google automatically forward the SMS to your mobile phone number using your carrier.

This is detrimental to our goal of using only data or Wi-Fi connection to receive messages. What you need to do is go to Settings > Phones > [Mobile Phone] then uncheck “Receive text messages on this phone”. All SMS messages will still end up in your Google Voice inbox, but you won’t have to worry about unsuspected fees and charges.

How to Receive Texts in Your Email

The one option that can actually be very useful is to configure Google Voice to deliver all text messages sent to your Google number to the email address associated with your Google Account. This way, you can read what people have to say to you just by logging into your Gmail account.

  1. Open Google Voice.
  2. At the top right of the page, click ‘Settings’.
  3. Go to the “Voicemail & Text” tab.
  4. Check the box next to “Forward text messages to my email.”
  5. Click on “Save Changes.”

You can even reply to a text message from the email you received, and it will be sent as a text message to the original sender.

Alternatives

The biggest advantage of receiving text messages using Google Voice is that absolutely anyone with a phone can contact you. But if you give up this feature, a whole world of alternative messaging apps for Android will open up to you. WhatsAppGoogle DuoGrooVe IPSkype, and Line all allow you to send and receive both domestic and international SMS messages, multimedia messages, make free phone calls, share your location, and do a lot more than you can do with Google Voice. Their downside is that the person you want to talk to must use the same app as you.