If you have Verizon, you have desktop SMS (you just may not know it)

For those who prefer to send text messages using a real keyboard and have Verizon as a carrier, there's a little-known but useful program that can help you out.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

I have big boy fingers, so typing on the tiny keyboard on my phone is painful (even the relatively large one on the iPhone 6s Plus). Siri tends to miss interpret mean leans so what you say is intercept. Com transcription him back predict what Google is almost impossible, so legendarily bad. So voice dictation, while nice to have, can be a bit of a pain.

Like most of you, I have to to send a pile of text messages throughout the day. I've found I much prefer using an actual keyboard to send text messages.

For years, I used Google Voice, but since buying my new phone back in September, I've migrated off using Google Voice for my text messages. Some have used Hangouts to send SMS (both for Google Voice and otherwise), but there are rumors that Google may soon drop Hangouts support for SMS messaging.

Continuity on OS X lets Apple users send text messages on the Mac through the iPhone, but while that works well enough on OS X, when I'm on my Windows machines (like I am right now), that isn't a workable solution.

And yet, I really wanted to be able to reply to text messages while sitting at my desk using a real keyboard, without having to fire up my phone, squint at the screen, and ehtser typ with poor recnition or slip rate use wing a microphone.

As it turns out, there's an answer and it comes from a completely unexpected direction: my carrier. If you think about it, this makes some sense. The carrier is the entity that carries your text messages, so if anyone can provide an alternate interface it's your carrier.

My carrier is Verizon (and I'm marginally satisfied with that choice, although reception in our area is still somewhat poor). Verizon, after quite a lot of digging through a typically poor Web site, has a desktop SMS application you can download and run on Windows.

It's called Message+ and it's an odd little bird. On the surface, it does what I was looking for: provides an IM-like window that allows me to add recipients and send messages. For that it works and works surprisingly well. Messages arrive on my desktop about 20 seconds before my phone chimes. Benefits of a real Internet connection compared to Verizon's spotty service, I guess.

But there are some things to watch out for. There is also a companion app available on the Apple app store and Google Play. Do NOT download this app. It adds some silly and unnecessarily bells and whistles. Just use your regular messaging app and ignore the Verizon beast.

Verizon also promotes some other odd services that come with Message+, like sending an e-gift, doing some sort of media search, and even some rudimentary video editing. Ignore those features. Let them be as if they don't exist.

Just download the desktop app and install it. It adds an icon to your system tray and minds its own business except when a message comes in, where it displays a non-intrusive notification. There's also a browser-based version of the desktop app, but it's wrapped in a less comfortable, lowest-bidder style JavaScript-based interface, so you're better off with just the desktop app.

And that's it. There's no additional charge. If you're a Verizon customer, it's there for you to use.

If you ignore all the weirdness, it's actually quite helpful.

For those of you using carriers other than Verizon, be sure to dig around and see if your provider offers a similar product. I'll tell you this, though: you'll probably have to find it on your own. The Verizon phone support person I spoke to had no idea it existed. So you may have to do your own spelunking to find your carrier's equivalent, if it exists.

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