iMessage on an iPhone X
Denys Prykhodov/

Want iMessage for Android or Windows? Unfortunately, it’s a lot more work than you might expect. Apple’s Messages app works only on Apple devices like Macs, iPhones, and iPads. No third-party apps can connect to iMessage. However, some good alternatives have similar functionality.

Apple doesn’t offer Messages on the web, either. That’s a shame—it could be part of the iCloud website like iCloud Drive, Notes, and Find My iPhone are.

Solutions That Don’t Work (Stay Away from iPadian)

Search for “iMessage on PC” or something similar on the web, and you’ll discover many websites offering a handful of bad solutions for running iMessage on a Windows PC. Here’s why they don’t work.

Some websites recommend you use Chrome Remote Desktop or another remote desktop tool. Yes, if you have a Mac, you can leave that Mac running, access it remotely from a PC, and use the Messages app (or any other Mac app) over the remote desktop connection. If you have a spare Mac lying around, this will work—but you probably don’t. This is a silly solution for almost everyone.

The same websites recommend you download something called “iPadian,” which is an “iOS and iPad simulator.” At first glance, it looks like a way to run the iPad’s iOS operating system on your desktop. But that’s deceiving. It isn’t an emulator—it’s a “simulator” that can’t actually run real iOS apps. You can’t run Messages or any other apps. You can run some fake apps designed to look like an iPad. For this, the company behind iPadian charges money.

Stay away from iPadian. It doesn’t work at all, and it’s a waste of money. Sadly, there’s no way to run iMessage on a PC.

How to Use iMessage on Android (with a Mac)

iMessage on Android with AirMessage

If you own a Mac and have an Android phone, here’s a solution you can look into. AirMessage promises “iMessage for Android,” and it delivers. It’s a little complicated, though, and involves conscripting a Mac you own to function as a server.

Here’s how it works: You need a Mac, where you’ll install the AirMessage server. That Mac must remain running and connected to the internet at all times. You then install the AirMessage app on your Android phone. You can access iMessage through AirMessage on Android—your Mac does the heavy lifting; the AirMessage app communicates with it. As the device that’s actually connected to iMessage, your Mac is just sending messages back and forth.

For Mac owners with Android phones, AirMessage could be tempting. But you’ll want an always-on Mac with a stable internet connection. It’s an ordeal.

This isn’t an ideal solution—but it’s the best you can do. It won’t be worth it for most people.

How to Text from a PC with an Android Phone

Your Phone app showing text messages with contact photos.

If you have an Android phone and a Windows PC, you can text from your PC with the Your Phone app built into Windows 10. That’s one of the big draws of Apple’s Messages app—if you have an iPhone, you can text with your Mac. Well, if you have an Android phone, you can text from your Windows 10 PC.

You can even text from your PC with people using Apple’s Messages app, assuming they have an iPhone. You’ll just be one of those “green bubble” people, and you won’t have access to iMessage features like group iMessages and screen effects.

If you don’t use Windows 10, you can use another app like PushBullet to text from your PC. This is web-based, so it works on Windows 7 devices, Chromebooks, Linux systems, and even Macs.

RELATED: Why Android Users Need Windows 10's "Your Phone" App

Try Other Text Messaging Apps

While iMessage doesn’t work on Android or a Windows PC, many other text-messaging apps do. You could try to get your iMessage-using friends to switch to something like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or any of the many other chat apps out there.

That may be a tall order if everyone else is using iMessage—but, in a mixed friend group with some iPhone users and some Android users, agreeing on a solution that everyone can use makes sense.

What about FaceTime?

There’s no way to use FaceTime on a Windows PC or Android phone, either. That’s a shame because Steve Jobs promised to make FaceTime “an open industry standard” back in 2010 when it was announced. Apple hasn’t done so and hasn’t said anything about the promise since.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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