How to send text messages with Alexa

Alexa now lets you send text messages with your voice… so long as you use Android. Here's how to set it up.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
2 min read
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Back in April 2016, I recommended a third-party skill called SMS With Molly that would let you send text messages with your Alexa speaker. Sort of. It was a workaround that, technically, worked. You could text a few contacts with some predefined messages. But the texts wouldn't come from your phone number.

And that's just one of the workarounds. You could also use IFTTT to send preset text messages to friends and family.

As of yesterday, though, you can directly send text messages using Alexa. There's a catch, however. It only works with Android phones (running Version 5.0 or later) and Amazon explained there's no plan to expand to iOS anytime soon.

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Head to the Conversations section of the Alexa app on your Android device to get everything set up.

Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

If you have an Android phone, here's how you can set up SMS with Alexa.

  • Open the Alexa app.
  • Open the Conversations tab.
  • If the app is updated, a pop-up will appear, explaining the new SMS feature. Tap Go to my profile.
    • If you don't see this, you can get to your profile by tapping the Contacts icon in the upper right (next to the compose button) and selecting My Profile at the top of your contacts lists.
  • Under Permissions tap the toggle next to Send SMS to enable it.
  • Tap OK to continue.
  • Tap Allow to give Alexa access to send and view SMS messages.

Like voice calling with Alexa, this feature will let you text most US numbers, excluding 911. You also will not be able to send SMS to groups or send MMS.

Watch this: Alexa introduces voice calling and messaging

SMS with Alexa differs from the previously launched messaging feature in that this isn't Echo-to-Echo messaging and it's not sending voice messages. Instead, these are text-to-speech text messages that recipients will receive on their phone, from your phone number. This also means you will not receive messages -- and they will not be read back to you -- on the Alexa speaker.

Also, sending SMS with Alexa only works with specific Alexa devices: the Echo, Echo Dot , Echo Spot , Echo Plus or Echo Show

To send a message with Alexa, you can say things like:

  • "Alexa, send an SMS."
  • "Alexa, send a text message."
  • "Alexa, send an SMS to [contact name]."
  • "Alexa, send a text message to [contact name]."

To use the native Alexa messaging, you must say either "Alexa, send a message," or "Alexa, send a message to [contact name]."