How to Receive SMS Text Messages on an iPad

Messages App IconOne of the features in Apple’s new Continuity concept is the ability to send and receive SMS text messages on an iPad. Additionally, those with a Mac computer using OS X Yosemite can now send SMS text messages directly from the computer.


Prior to the release of iOS 8.1, the Messages app on the iPad could only send and receive iMessages. Now, when both an iPhone and an iPad are using iOS 8.1 or greater, text message forwarding allows SMS texts to be sent and received on the iPad.



Enabling SMS Text Messages on an iPad

For text message forwarding to work, both your iPhone and iPad need to be running iOS software 8.1 or newer and both devices need to be connected to the Internet. Additionally, both devices need to be powered on to setup text message forwarding.


On the iPhone, go to Settings -> Messages -> Text Message Forwarding. This option will only appear when a compatible iOS or Mac device connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Text Forwarding Setup


Your iPad should be listed in the Text Message Forwarding setup window. Set the slider to the on position to enable text message forwarding to the iPad.
Enable Text Forwarding


An authorization window should appear on the iPhone asking for a code.
Text Forward Authorization


The code is available in a window that will appear on your iPad.
Text Forward Confirm


Enter the code from the iPad into the authorization window on the iPhone. When the code is entered, this authorizes text messages to be forwarded to the iPad.

You will now be able to send and receive SMS text messages on the iPad.



What If the Activation Code Does Not Appear on the iPad?

On rare occasion, the iPad will not display the activation code when setting up Text Message Forwarding. If this happens to you, please see this article for troubleshooting tips to get the code to appear.



What If I Don’t Have an iPhone?

If you have an iPad but not an iPhone, you will still be able to send and receive iMessages from the iPad. However, you will not be able to send or receive SMS text messages from the Messages app on the iPad.


As an alternative, you can send a text message from an iPad to a non-Apple device by using a third-party messaging app. There are a wide variety of free messaging apps available on the App Store.


Using a third-party messaging app does present some unique challenges. For instance, many of these messaging apps provide you with a phone number for texting. This number is typically different than your regular cell phone number, which can cause confusion with your contacts about which number to use when sending a text to you. Additionally, some third-party messaging apps can only send messages to recipients using the same app.


The text message forwarding function in iOS 8.1 provides a convenient solution for sending and receiving SMS text messages on an iPad.