Windows 10 Tip: Read, Reply To, and Send Text Notifications Via Your Android Handset

Posted on July 8, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 28 Comments

Windows 10 Tip: Read, Reply To, and Send Text Notifications Via Your Android Handset

If you’re using an Android smartphone, you can sync notifications between that device and your Windows 10 PC. This is particularly useful for text messaging.

Note: I’ll be adding this tip to my e-book, the Windows 10 Field Guide, soon. –Paul

For this to work, you will need Windows 10 version 1703 or newer, and you will need to have signed into Cortana with your Microsoft account. You will also need to install the Cortana mobile app on your smartphone, and have signed in there with the same Microsoft account. Then, you will need to do a bit of configuration in each location.

On Android, open Cortana and select the little account “weeble” (as I think of it) in the upper-right corner. Then, select Settings > Sync notifications. Here, you can select which notification types to sync.

To see (and respond to) incoming text messages, you will need to enable the option “Incoming message notifications.” You will then need to grant Cortana access to your SMS messages and contacts before you can do so.

On your PC, open Cortana and select the Settings gear. Then, scroll down to the option “Send notifications and information between devices” and enable it if it is not already enabled.

Next, select the “Edit sync settings” button and ensure that the option “Get notifications from this PC on my phone” is enabled.

Now you can do the following.

Send a new text message from your PC. Open Cortana and type “text message” or similar, and you will be presented with Cortana’s new text message UI. From this panel, you can specify one or more contacts and a message, and Cortana will send it as if it came from your smartphone.

Read an incoming text message. When you receive a text message on your phone, Cortana will display a notification on your screen so that you can read the message.

Reply to an incoming text message. As you can see from the screenshot above, the text message notification includes a Reply field. Type your reply there and then select the Send (paper airplane) button. Or, you can just select Dismiss or ignore the notification.

In my experience, text messages sent through Cortana on the PC are delayed by several seconds in each direction. But this is still a huge convenience. And if you find it easier to type on your PC than on your phone, as I do, this may just be the killer Cortana feature that puts Microsoft’s personal digital assistant over the top.

The text messages as they appear on the other phone.

As you can see, Cortana can sync many other notifications back and forth between your PC and phone. I will examine some other interesting uses of this functionality soon.


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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Windows 10 Tip: Read, Reply To, and Send Text Notifications Via Your Android Handset”

  1. fanchettes

    Thanks Paul! I was seriously trying to figure out how to do this just yesterday!

  2. JacobTheDev

    I don't understand why this isn't built in to the Messaging app on Windows 10. It's obviously possible, if Pushbullet can do it.

  3. Tom Monahan

    The Pushbullet app on Android phone and Chrome extension on PC provide this functionality plus MMS and message threads and simpler to setup.

  4. wright_is

    And, when will Cortana be available for Android? Outside of the USA?

  5. BrickPrinter

    I have Teams on my Office 365 account and it works very well. But only with other people on 365 -but a good percentage of the chat I do is with them, so when chatting with them, I use teams. When with others use regular chat now, but will try this out. Hopefully Teams will allow chat feature to those outside and that would be cool. Like add my wife and a few other contacts so could use Team Chat to communicate with them.

  6. buzzzqwert

    I set this up as directed and on the PC's Cortana my Android phone displays in settings so I assumed texting would work but instead every time I send a text using Cortana on the PC it sends it from my old Windows phone that's nearby, not from the Android phone. When I turn off the Windows phone no text message occurs so somehow even though my settings are the same as yours the messaging is bypassing the Android phone. Once I turn the Windows phone back on, it sends the text. Any ideas on how to fix this?

  7. dcdevito

    As a google voice user I don't need this, hangouts does everything I need including phone calls and video calls on my windows 10 machine.

  8. Andygoes

    Can anyone confirm if it's still the case that you can send multiple messages if you have multiple phones connected to multiple PCs? That's always fun - especially when logging into the second PC springs 100 notifications that have all been cleared earlier in the day on another PC and both phones! 1 step forward...

  9. ldsands

    I've been doing this (only replying to texts from the action center) for months. I wasn't sure very many people had access to this. I haven't even been on insider builds for over a year now. I'm so glad that I can now start a text from my computer where I have access to a real keyboard. Thanks Paul.

  10. jgoraya

    Thanks Paul. The one feature that I wish was added is the ability to see and respond to group MMS threads.

  11. mclanasa

    Does this work on the iPhone?

  12. Jay

    At this point Microsoft should allow certified Android apps to be downloadable from Windows Store. Who cares what platform the app originates from? Android, iOS, UWP, iOS who gives a shit. Build a Windows phone that runs all these apps...that way we can be in the Windows ecosystem but have access to any apps we need.

  13. gwydionjhr

    You know what would be even better? If there was an app on the PC that allowed more full featured text messaging. Like the ability to see an entire conversation thread, or create a text message to more than one person, or attach and send pictures.

    Oh wait. They had that over a year ago and killed it.

    FWIW, I actually find it's easier to use voice for this feature: Hey Cortana, send a text to Person X, "I'm on my way". One step instead of three.

  14. bsd107

    "In my experience, text messages sent through Cortana on the PC are delayed by several seconds in each direction. But this is still a huge convenience. "

    So so then it is no different than using an Apple Watch with an iPhone. I have those two devices and also an iPad. When I am home with all three devices, I notice that the iPad gets a notification first. Then I can count up to 8 seconds before my Apple Watch gets the notification from the phone. This is no big deal, and I wouldn't even notice it if I wasn't hearing the iPad notification sound. Not a factor. (Before I had Apple Watch, the iPhone would usually get the notification 1 second before the pad.)

    Anyway, this feature is awesome, and I really wish it was possible for this to be added to iOS. Not only would it likely never be allowed by Apple, but it would be useless if it didn't also work with iMessages. Another reason this will likely never happen...

  15. arknu

    You might want to add "in the US" to the headline, since this requires Cortana. Which is still unavailable in most of the world. Or perhaps write an article on Microsoft's single biggest failure: Developing excellent features, only to shoot itself in the foot by making them US-only. The latest example being the emoji panel in the next Windows 10 update, which for some reason only works when using English as the input language.

  16. jbinaz

    I love this feature.

    For the command, you can actually tule "text <name of contact>". Then you can just tab right into the message box, type your message and hit send.

  17. Darmok N Jalad

    That last screenshot threw me off, as the whole article was about Android and the last shot is on iOS. Took me a second to realize that was just the device on the other side of the conversation. I take it all messages you send from the PC show up on your Android device?

    Yes, it is a nice feature to have, and like the premium commenter mentioned, Apple has some good syncing across their ecosystem. Their vertical integration makes syncing all things on all devices (Mac, Watch, iPhone, iPad) quite painless.

  18. Watney

    Just doesn't work reliably, so I've given up for this year. Maybe 2018 will be our year

    • jmeiii75

      Just doesn't work reliably, so I've given up for this year. Maybe 2018 will be our year

      I was using it for quite awhile. Then, a couple of months back. I lost the ability to reply to SMS messages. I could receive messages and generate new messages, but not reply. Consequently, I turned it off. Perhaps one of the cumulative updates have fixed this issue. I'll give it another try.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to Watney:

      What sort of reliability issues? I use this daily and have had a few times where it doesn't send but it's rare.

  19. Christopher Winchell

    In my case, it seems I can receive texts from Cortana on my PC only if the Cortana app is open (it can be running in the background) on my Android phone. Strangely, I have been able to send text messages via Cortana from my PC without having the app open on my phone. Can anyone confirm if they too must have the app open on their phone in order to receive text messages on their PC? Thank you!