About a year ago I put together a list of websites that let you send SMS or text messages for free. It was a pretty popular post, but the only thing is that a few of those sites have since died while many other (and potentially better) sites have sprung up. So, here's a new list!
– Call Wave easily wins the award for “fastest delivery time.” I sent myself a text message using their free downloadable widget and before I'd even had time to click back over to HIF, my phone was buzzing with the new message. They have versions that you can add directly to your Google or Yahoo Homepage as well as your Apple or Windows Vista computer. I especially like the fact that you can not only save phone numbers that you frequently text, but it even imported all the listed cell numbers I have saved in my address book on my computer! Nifty!
Chikka – You have to download a small program, which is basically just an IM platform, but built on sending text messages to your buddies instead of IMs. Your friends can then respond to you from their phone and it’ll show up on your computer in a message box. Not only have they since expanded the countries you can text since last year (US, UK, India, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong), but they also now offer free texts to everybody in the US.
Full list after the jump.
– I really like the look of this US-only free texting site. In fact, it’s probably one of the best out of all the sites on this list. The site isn’t really that big, but it looks like they've certainly sped up delivery time since last year. One small downfall is that you have to know what service provider your friend uses, which means there's no way I can use this site since I can't even remember my friend's phone number, let alone their carrier.
(edit: I just discovered Fone Finder, which allows you to enter the first part of any cell number and it'll tell you what carrier it's associated with. Sweet!)
– While this site offers free texts to pretty much every major country in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and the South Pacific, you only get 80 characters and the texts are a bit slow to arrive.
Google – They've since retired their free texts from browsers, however they've now integrated it with their chat feature. If you have a gmail or gtalk account (both are quite free), then log in and go to your Google Labs page to activate the free SMS feature. To send the text, just type a phone number into the search box at the top of the chat window and hit “Send SMS.” Your friend can then respond and it'll show up on your computer. This is only for US phones right now, but Google plans on expanding it to more countries soon.
(edit: One bonus this has over the AIM version below is that Google gives you a free SMS number that you can give out to your friends and family. Thus, they can initiate the conversation if they so choose.)
AIM – After discovering the Google service above, I did a little digging and found that AIM and Yahoo have been offering this service for years. Simply message the entire number with area and country code (ex, +12225554444) and then type your message in the box. Your friend will get the text and they can then respond to ya. I just showed this to my little sister and she practically screeched with joy. Only downside is that it's US only and they don't plan on expanding like Google does.
Group 2 Call – Sign up for a free account and then you can import your contacts directly from your phone. Once you've done that, you can then either send individual free texts or mass text them all at once! You're limited to 50 free texts per day, but that's plenty for most of us. Another really cool feature is the ability to send a free voice message to a contact, thus helping you save those precious minutes when you have something long to say.
Joopz – Just like before, you have to create a free account, but after you do so, it’s nothing but awesome features from there. Sure, they have free texts, but they also allow you to set up text delivery in the future. So if you don't want to forget to pick up your laundry tomorrow, have Joopz text you right before you leave work! They also keep a log of your texts if you so choose, so you never have to delete anything important. This makes it easy to prove to your friend that he most certainly did text you at 3 AM the other night! I'm looking at you, Fellner! The only downside is that their free service is limited to 50 free texts a month.
Oh, Don't Forget – By far the easiest site of the bunch for sending texts in the future. You can pinpoint them down to the exact minute you want them sent. It was named one of TIME magazine's 50 best websites back in 2007, so props for this site seem to be coming from just about everywhere.
Send SMS Now – You still have to sign up for a free account with this site and the interface isn't that enjoyable to look at, but they offer a few off-the-wall countries that most other sites don't work with. So if you have friends in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, or Ukraine just to name a few, then you'll probably find this site helpful!
Text 4 Free – While the interface leaves something to desire, this site offers a whole slew of countries and providers you can text for free.
– I wish the font on this site was a bit larger, but overall it's a basic US-only site that delivers texts extremely fast.
Txt Drop – The sweet thing with this site is that your friends can reply to the text you send them and it'll come to your e-mail account. There are other sites out there that let you do the same thing, but this is the only one I know of that doesn't require you to register beforehand in order to access that little feature. The text message came within minutes as well.
Yahoo Messenger India – India is a booming market and Yahoo is doing its best to try and snag as much of it as possible. Therefore, their Indian version of Yahoo Messenger offers an awesome array of countries that you can text for absolutely free. For no cost whatsoever, you can message people in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia), Canada, Hong Kong, Indonasia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. The program itself is in English and it’s no different than the one you’d download from the English version of Yahoo, other than the fact that with this one you can send a ton of free text messages around the globe!
So there you have it! Now no matter where you or your friends are in the world, hopefully you’ll be able to stay in touch with nothing more than a couple of cell phones and a few of the websites from this list.