Send and Receive Text Messages on Your PC

Text messaging is great--except when it isn't. For one thing, it's expensive (unless you have an unlimited messaging plan, which itself can be expensive). Plus, it forces you to type on your phone's tiny keyboard--not always the fastest or most convenient method.

Indeed, when you're sitting at your desk and want to text, say, your spouse, do you really have to pull out your phone, navigate to the messaging app, then mangle those cramped keys?

Actually, you don't. Pinger Textfree Web brings free and easy text messaging to your browser. Using a large, attractive interface, you can compose a message to any mobile number and view the replies. It's not unlike using an instant-messaging service like Meebo.

Textfree Web

Registering for a Textfree Web account is free, and it includes a textfree.us e-mail address. (If you're an Android or iOS user, you might be familiar with the eponymous apps, which are great for messaging without paying your carrier for the privilege.)

In my tests, messages sent from Textfree Web arrived almost instantly, the replies came just as quickly. And trust me: it's so much nicer composing texts with a full-size keyboard. Cheaper, too. The service even lets you attach images to your messages, effectively recreating MMS. (If someone wants to send you back an image, it needs to go to your Textfree e-mail address.)

If there's one downside, it's that you can't import contacts, so you'll have to enter phone numbers manually--at least the first time. Textfree Web keeps a (brief) log of recently sent and received messages, so it's easy to resume a conversation with people you've texted in the last 72 hours.

This is a great service. It lets you keep your phone in your pocket and text to your heart's content, all at no charge.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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