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How to set up your Mac and iPhone for texts and calls

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How to set up your Mac and iPhone for texts and calls

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you, like me, prefer typing on your laptop’s keyboard rather than the tiny iPhone keypad, or you just don’t want to switch devices to answer a text or call, you can set up your Mac to receive calls and texts from your iPhone. With an Apple ID, you can also send texts and make calls over the internet using the Messages and FaceTime apps on your Mac.

To make calls using cellular service or to send SMS messages through your carrier (as opposed to over the internet), your iPhone needs to be running iOS 8.1 or later and your Mac needs to be running OS X Yosemite or later.

Note: Following these instructions won’t transfer your contacts between your Mac and your iPhone. To do that, you’ll either have to set up iCloud contacts or sync them.

Sign in to Messages with your Apple ID

First, make sure you’re signed into Messages on your Mac and on your iPhone with the same Apple ID. Here’s how:

  • To check your Apple ID on your iPhone, go to “Settings” > “Messages” > “Send & Receive”
  • To check your Apple ID on your Mac, open up the Messages app. Click on “Messages” in the menu bar and then select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu. Click on “iMessage” at the top of the window.
iMessage preferences
Check that you’re signed into the correct Apple account.

Set up text message forwarding

To set your Mac up to receive SMS messages sent to your phone:

  • On your iPhone, open up Settings
  • Scroll down and go to “Messages”
  • Tap “Text Message Forwarding”
  • Toggle on the switch next to your laptop’s name
iPhone Messages settings
Here, you can find various settings for Messages.
Text Message Forwarding options
Make sure your Mac is toggled on to receive text messages.

Set up FaceTime and iCloud

Make sure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and that you’re signed into FaceTime and iCloud on both your Mac and your iPhone using the same Apple ID. Here’s how:

  • On your iPhone, open up “Settings.” You should see your Apple ID at the top of the settings screen. Scroll down and click on “FaceTime” to see which account is enabled.
  • On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen, and select “System Preferences.” Make sure you’re signed into the correct Apple account. Then open up your FaceTime app, click “FaceTime” in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu. At the top of the window, you’ll see which account you’re signed into.

Allow calls on other devices

Now you’ll need to toggle on a few settings on your iPhone:

  • On your iPhone, open up Settings and then tap “Phone”
  • Tap “Calls on Other Devices”
  • Toggle on “Allow Calls on Other Devices”
  • While you’re in “Calls on Other Devices,” make sure your Mac is toggled on
Phone settings
You’ll use this menu to enable both Calls on Other Devices and Wi-Fi Calling.
  • On your Mac, open up the FaceTime app
  • Click on “FaceTime” in the menu bar at the top of the screen and select “Preferences” from the drop-down options
  • Select “Settings” in the pop-up window
  • Check the box next to “Calls from iPhone”
FaceTime preferences on Mac
Make sure you select the box next to Calls from iPhone.

Keep in mind that in order for you to receive calls from your phone, your devices have to be near each other and connected to the same Wi-Fi network. To receive calls on your Mac when it’s connected to a different Wi-Fi network, use Wi-Fi calling.

Set up Wi-Fi Calling

If your Mac, your phone (iPhone 5S / 5C or later), and your carrier support it, you can turn on Wi-Fi Calling, which places calls over the internet as opposed to cellular service. It also lets you make calls from devices that are not on the same Wi-Fi networks as your phone (depending on your carrier) and also lets you make calls when your phone is switched off.

  • On your iPhone, go to “Settings” > “Phone” and select “Wi-Fi Calling”
  • Toggle on “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone.” A pop-up window will tell you how it communicates location data to your carrier. Tap “Enable.”
Wi-Fi Calling menu
Enable Wi-Fi Calling by toggling on the switch at the top of this screen.
Message that appears after enabling Wi-Fi Calling
After you switch on Wi-Fi Calling, you’ll get this message.
  • Toggle on “Add Wi-Fi Calling For Other Devices.” You may get a message from your carrier with information about Wi-Fi Calling, billing, and 911 calls, including that if you call 911 with Wi-Fi Calling, your carrier may use your automatic location information or the emergency address stored in your settings to route the call to an emergency response center. Click “Continue” at the bottom of the notice.
  • In case location data is not available, you are required to provide an address for emergency calls. Your carrier may store an address (like your billing address) for you already, but you can change it by clicking on the blue “Update Emergency Address” in the middle of the screen and following the on-screen prompts.

Now you’ll need to set up your Mac.

  • You may get a notification on your Mac after enabling Wi-Fi calling on your phone. In that case, click “Turn On,” and you’ll either be taken to the Preferences window or to the main FaceTime menu. You’ll see a smaller window notifying you that your location will be shared for emergency calls. Click “OK” to allow this.
Pop up window for location sharing during emergency calls
You’ll be notified that your location will be shared for emergency calls.
  • If you don’t see the notification, open FaceTime on your Mac, click on FaceTime in the menu bar and choose “Preferences” from the drop-down menu.
  • Make sure “Settings” is selected at the top of the window
  • If your device supports Wi-Fi Calling, you’ll see a button that says, “Upgrade to Wi-Fi Calling” underneath “Calls from iPhone.” Click on it.
  • You’ll get a pop-up window indicating that your location may be shared with your carrier. Click “Enable” to continue.
Upgrade to Wi-Fi Calling pop-up window
As with your iPhone, you’ll get a pop-up window saying how your carrier will use location data.
  • You’ll also need to provide an emergency address here. After you click “Update to Wi-Fi Calling,” that button will be replaced with a button that says “Update Emergency Address.” Click on that to view and, if necessary, change your address.

And you’re done!

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