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You can't use iMessage on Windows. Use these chat apps instead

These messaging apps work well on your PC to keep the conversation flowing.

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It turns out, there are several, fully capable, messaging options for Windows users. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

iMessage envy is real. Apple's chat service has set the gold standard for a seamless messaging experience, where iMessage on the Mac picks up where you leave off on your iPhone. The downside for Windows users -- iMessage won't on your PC. But that doesn't mean you can't chat from the comfort of your Windows PC. There are now a number of quite good alternatives for those of us who use a mixture of iOS, Android, Mac and Windows

In the past, we've seen solutions that promise to bring iMessage to Android phones through a series of workarounds. We do not recommend any of these solutions, as they often require providing your Apple login credentials to a third-party and routing all of your messages through a random server. 

While we dream about the day that Apple announces (gasp!) iMessage for Windows or Android, here are some free messaging alternatives that can fill the void. 

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WhatsApp on Windows is easy to set up and keeps your conversations in sync with your phone. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

WhatsApp for Windows

WhatsApp checks all the boxes for a messaging service, and it has a Windows 10 ($145 at Amazon) app. After installing the app on your phone and creating an account, you sign into the Windows 10 app by scanning a QR code that's displayed the first time you open the app. 

You can use the WhatsApp desktop app on multiple computers, but the platform prevents your messages from syncing to multiple computers at the same time. You'll be able to view your messages on your phone, and the PC you're currently using, and nowhere else.

Using the desktop app you can start new conversations, view your friend's WhatsApp status updates, share emoji, attachments, and search conversations. Location sharing is not included. 

Visit this WhatsApp landing page with links to all of its various apps for different platforms, including Android, Windows Phone, Windows 10, Mac, and iPhone ($781 at Amazon)

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Facebook Messenger has a desktop app, too

If you use Facebook, you know about Facebook Messenger. But did you know Messenger had a dedicated app for Windows users

Instead of using the Messenger website, or visiting Facebook directly and getting thrown down a rabbit hole of likes, comments and posts, the Facebook Messenger app looks and works just like the web offering. You can send voice notes, share your location, place voice or video calls,  create plans and search for the perfect GIF all within the desktop app. You won't have access to features like sending stickers, money, or playing games, however. 

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Messages for Web puts your text message converesations on your computer. 

Jason Pepper

Android Messages for Web

Google's Messages app for Android includes the ability to mirror your text message conversations on a computer through the Messages for web website. Whatever's on your phone, is on your computer, and vice-versa. 

You can share photos, videos, and receive alerts for new messages without having to constantly pick up your phone. There are some features you'll miss out on, such as sharing your location, attaching files, and sending/receiving money through Google Pay. But the core messaging features are all there. 

We have a roundup of Messages for Web tips, should you decide to go this route. A potential downside is that you'll have to make Android Messages your default messaging app, but personally I prefer Messages over competing apps. 

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The Your Phone app on Windows 10 does more than just bring your messages to your PC. Photos, notifications, and screen mirroring are also possible. 

Microsoft

Use the Your Phone app for Windows 10

Sorry, iPhone users, this one isn't for you. If you're looking for something that's better integrated with Windows 10 and you're an Android user, then Microsoft's Your Phone app is the way to go. 

The app lets you view, reply, and send messages directly from your PC in addition to giving you access to recent photos, notifications on your phone, and screen mirroring. 

To get started, install the Your Phone companion app on your phone, and the Windows 10 version of the app on your PC. Sign into the same Microsoft account on both devices and follow the prompts. 

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