Text messages and Hangouts on Android devices

Send text messages (SMS & MMS) with Hangouts on Android

If you have the Hangouts app on devices with Android 4.0 and higher, you can send and receive text messages (SMS & MMS), photos, and videos. Remember, your text message rates through your mobile carrier still apply.

You can send and receive text and multimedia messages in the Hangouts app without being signed in. But if you want to send Hangouts messages or make video calls, you’ll need to sign in to a Google account. 

Watch the video below to learn how to enable, send, and receive text and multimedia messages.

(You can enable captions for this video in your own language by clicking the "CC" button and selecting your desired language from the menu.)

Turn on & off text messages (SMS) in Hangouts

If you have a Nexus 5, Hangouts is your default text-messaging app and you can’t uninstall the app. To use Hangouts as the default app for text messages for other devices with Android 4.4 or lower, you’ll need to turn on SMS for Hangouts. If you need to find out which version you have, go to Settings and choose About phone.

Devices with Android 4.4 or higher

  1. Open Hangouts on your Android device.  
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Touch SMS.
  4. Touch SMS Disabled to switch the setting to SMS Enabled.

Devices with Android 4.3 or lower

  1. Open Hangouts on your Android device.  
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Touch SMS.
  4. Touch the checkbox next to “Turn on SMS.”

When you turn on SMS, all of your existing text messages are imported into the Hangouts app. You can only access these messages on your Android phone and not from any other Hangouts on the web, iOS device, or your tablet. You can also view text and Hangouts messages from the same contact as one merged conversation.

You can’t use a Google Voice number with text messages in Hangouts. Only your Android phone number will work.

Turn off Hangouts as your default text-messaging app

If you use Hangouts as your default text-messaging app, you can switch to another SMS app at any time, and all your messages will be retained as long as storage space is available. You can also change other text-message settings.

  1. Open Hangouts on your Android device.  
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Touch SMS.
  4. Uncheck “Turn on SMS.”

For versions Android 4.3 and lower, you’ll be notified twice if you have another text message app besides Hangouts. You'll need to choose your default text-messaging app to ensure that you receive notifications only once for text messages. If you need to find out which version you have, go to Settings and choose About phone.

How to send a text message (SMS/MMS)

Open Hangouts on your Android device. There are three ways to send a text from Hangouts:

  1. Directly add a phone number. Touch the  compose icon to open a new Hangout. You can type in a phone number in the search box at the top of screen, and it will give you an option to “Send SMS to.” After you’re finished typing the number, touch the number below “Send SMS to.” After you send the SMS, you can save the number to your contacts by touching the number and touching Add to People. Then you can choose whether to Create a new contact or add to an existing one.
  2. You can search for a contact or select from the contacts list. Touch the  compose icon to open a new Hangout and search for the contact’s name or choose from the contact list. Then choose the phone number you’d like to text.
  3. Choose a contact from your conversations list. Touch the person’s name at the top, and then you can choose to SMS from the drop-down items. 

If your contact isn’t available on Hangouts and has a phone number, you’ll see an SMS icon with the contact’s profile photo. After you choose the contact, type the message you’d like to send. Then touch the Hangouts Android send send icon.

How to send a multimedia message (MMS)

Once you’ve chosen a contact for a text message, you can add multimedia to the message too.

  1. On the right side of the message box, touch the  camera icon to send a photo or a video.
  2. A window will appear giving you a few ways to add multimedia: take a photo, take a video, or attach an existing photo.
  3. Select the option you’d like.
  4. You can also type in a message in the box if you haven’t already done so.
  5. Then touch the Hangouts Android send send icon.
To switch between seeing text or multimedia messages and Hangouts messages, touch the contact’s name at the top of the conversation.