Most digital cell phones have the ability to receive short text messages. This is usually called short message service (SMS) or text paging.

What follows is a brief overview. For more detailed information on using SMS, check out our sister site, SMS 411.

To receive email on your cell phone, you first need to make sure your phone is capable of receiving text messages, and that your cellular service provider offers text messaging. In the U.S., you may have to pay a small extra charge for this service.

Once you know you can receive text messages, you need to find out what your cell phone's email address is. Yes, your phone has an email address! When someone sends a message to this address, it will get turned into an SMS message and it will appear on your phone, often within seconds after it was sent.

For a table that shows you how to figure out your phone's email address, scroll down or click here.

If the email is longer than your cellular carrier permits, it will get cut off or broken into multiple SMS messages.

Want to know how to get SMS on your phone? Don't know your address? Check the following table for details on some common US cell phone carriers and their SMS services. Or use the "web form" links to go to a web page where you can send your message.

Provider Maximum message length * What's my address? For more information
Alltel 300 characters [10-digit phone number]@message.alltel.com
Example: 2125551212@message.alltel.com
more info
web form
AT&T Wireless (now part of Cingular) 160 characters [10-digit phone number]@mmode.com
Example: 2125551212@mmode.com
web form
Boost Mobile 500 characters [10-digit phone number]@myboostmobile.com
Example: 2125551212@myboostmobile.com
more info
Cingular 150 characters [10-digit phone number]@mobile.mycingular.com OR [10-digit number]
@cingularme.com
Example: 4152221212@cingularme.com
web form
more info
Metrocall 80 to 200 characters, depending on subscription plan [10-digit pager number]@page.metrocall.com
Example: 2125551212@page.metrocall.com
more info
Nextel (now part of Sprint Nextel) 140 characters [10-digit telephone number]@messaging.nextel.com
Example: 7035551234@messaging.nextel.com
more info
Sprint PCS (now Sprint Nextel) 160 characters [10-digit phone number]@messaging.sprintpcs.com
Example: 2125551234@messaging.sprintpcs.com
web form
more info
T-Mobile 140 characters [10-digit phone number]@tmomail.net
Example: 4251234567@tmomail.net
more info
web form
Verizon 160 characters [10-digit phone number]@vtext.com
Example: 5552223333@vtext.com
web form
Virgin Mobile USA 160 characters [10-digit phone number]@vmobl.com
Example: 5551234567@vmobl.com
more info

*maximum message length usually includes headers (to:, from:, and subject: lines) in addition to the message body.

For lots more info on SMS text messaging, see SMS 411.

If you have questions, corrections or additional information, please email the publisher, d. f. tweney: dft at tinywords dot com.