iOS 8 (SMS Relay, iPhone and iPad 001)

As soon as iOS 8.1 hit two days ago, I immediately went about checking out a pair of new features I care about the most, Text Message Forwarding and iPhone Cellular Calls.

As a quick reminder, Text Message Forwarding lets me mirror text messages sent to my iPhone in the Messages app on the Mac or iPad. With iPhone Cellular Calls turned on, I can finally make and receive phone calls on my other Mac and iOS devices through my iPhone’s cellular connection.

But something was amiss, or so I thought, because I just couldn’t get either feature to work. While attempting to enable Text Message Forwarding, the system prompted me to enter a confirmation code my Mac was supposed to generated, but didn’t.

Likewise, trying to enable iPhone Cellular Calls yielded a FaceTime error message saying my devices must use the same iCloud account, even though I was using FaceTime without any problems before.

Having spent a few hours restoring my devices as new, reseting network settings, changing settings on my router and checking the status of iCloud services, I eventually came to the same realization as did the other affected users: Text Message Forwarding requires you to use an email address and for iPhone Cellular Calls to work properly, FaceTime must be signed in with your Apple ID.

The problem is, I removed the other day all of the previously added email addresses from both FaceTime and iMessage. The thing is, I don’t want anyone to be able to FaceTime me or send me iMessages using anything other than my phone number.

Another reason: I loathe it when iMessage creates two conversation threads, one for messages sent to my phone number and the other for those reaching me through an iMessage email address.

So this is what happens if you try to enable iPhone Cellular Calls in your iPhone’s Settings but are not signed in to FaceTime with your Apple ID or iCloud account.

iOS 8 (FaceTime, iPhone Cellular Calls 001)

The cryptic error message doesn’t provide as much as a hint of what a user needs to do in order to make it work. Same goes when attempting to turn on Text Message Forwarding to the Mac in iMessage on the iPhone, if iMessage is configured to only use your phone number.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 002)

I was waiting there clueless because my Mac just wouldn’t generate a verification code, even though Messages automatically opened on the machine.

If you, like many other people, have simply flipped the Settings > Messages > iMessage and Settings > Messages > FaceTime switches to ON without fiddling with the additional buttons, these services are probably enabled on your phone number only.

To start enjoying Text Message Forwarding and iPhone Cellular Calls on the Mac or iPad, you need to add an email address to iMessage and use FaceTime with your Apple ID/iCloud, here’s how.

How to enable Text Message Forwarding

Step 1: Go to your iPhone’s Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and choose “Use your Apple ID for iMessage”.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 002)

Step 2: You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID user name and password. After logging in successfully, iOS then offers to enable iMessage with the email address(es) associated with your Apple ID, in addition to your phone number.

Step 3: Tap at least one email address to enable it and then hit Next.

Tip: Don’t have an iMessage-enabled email address stored in your Apple ID? Tap ”Add An Email…” to add one. You’ll need to click a confirmation link Apple will send to this address.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 003)

Note: I’ve garbled my personal information for privacy reasons.

Step 4: Go back to iMessage settings and hit Text Message Forwarding. You should be now presented with a list of all your devices enabled with the same iCloud account as this iPhone.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 001)

Choosing any device will put up a prompt requiring you to enter a six-digit code generated on your other device. At this point, I’ll just go ahead and enable Text Message Forwarding to my Mac.

Step 5: Messages on the Mac or iPad opens automatically and creates a one-time verification code, like this.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 005)

And this is what code generation looks like on the iPad.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 007)

Step 6: Input this code into your iPhone, as shown below.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 004)

Repeat the steps to enable Text Message Forwarding on your other devices.

As illustrated on the screenshot below, I am now able to receive and send text messages using my iPhone’s cellular service on both my iPad Air and MacBook Air.

iOS 8 (Messages, Text Message Forwarding 006)

That’s it — any text messages sent to my iPhone will now be available on my Mac and iPad alongside regular iMessages, right in the Messages app.

Bluetooth is not required for Text Message Forwarding and your devices don’t need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. Jeff has put together a nice video tutorial showing using Text Message Forwarding in OS X Yosemite in greater detail so give it a read to learn more about this great new feature.

How to enable iPhone Cellular Calls

Step 1: Go to your iPhone’s Settings > FaceTime and choose “Use your Apple ID for FaceTime”.

iOS 8 (FaceTime, iPhone Cellular Calls 003)

Step 2: You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID user name and password. After logging in successfully, iOS offers to enable FaceTime on one or more email addresses associated with your Apple ID, in addition to your phone number.

Step 3: Tap at least one email address to enable it. Hit Next in the upper right to save your changes.

iOS 8 (FaceTime, iPhone Cellular Calls 004)

Step 4: You can now flip the iPhone Cellular Calls switch on the previous screen to ON. Don’t forget to do this on your other devices as well, like the iPad or the Mac. On the Mac, just fire up the FaceTime app, go to settings and tick the iPhone Cellular Calls box under the Settings tab, as seen on the screenshot below.

FaceTime for Yosemite (iPhone Cellular Calls settings)

Unlike Text Message Forwarding, this feature doesn’t require you to enter a verification code into your iPhone. Just flip the switch and you’re good to go.

Congratulations, your iPhone will now route phone calls to your other devices and you’ll be able to place phone calls on your iPad or Mac, using an iPhone that’s in your pocket.

iPhone Cellular Calls

Keep in mind that iPhone Cellular Calls requires that all your devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, you won’t be able to make or receive phone calls.

While we’re at it, don’t forget to consult Jeff’s quick tutorial on making and receiving phone calls on your Mac.

It is my hope you’ll find this tutorial helpful and that Text Message Forwarding and iPhone Cellular Calls, two great additions to iOS 8’s arsenal of Continuity features, are now up and running across your Apple devices.

How do you like Text Message Forwarding and iPhone Cellular Calls and will you be using these new features on a regular basis, do you think? Go ahead, sound off down in the comments.

  • Tyler Smith

    I made my first call yesterday to my parents and they didn’t believe me at first lol

  • Daniel

    For some reason I don’t see my Macbook in available devices in the messages settings, my iPad is there. I do receive calls on my MacBook although it’s not consistent..

    • Go to iMessage and FaceTime preferences on your Mac and enable an email address associated with your Apple ID

      • Daniel

        I saw my email address but upon closer inspection realised that was for hangouts & not iCloud 🙂 thanks so much – it’s working perfectly! You’d think Apple would make this information widely available..

  • Chinch07

    I can make calls from my Mac but unable to receive phone calls. The missed call will show up in my FaceTime call log under audio but I do not get a notification on my mac while I am getting a call or a notification that I had a missed call. I am however able to make/receive on my iPad. I have everything logged in correctly an even turned off my firewall. Text forwarding is working fine as well.

  • Mohammed Sahib

    For some reason I can’t get the code on my iPad 🙁

    • Check the article, you need to sign into iMessage and FaceTime with your Apple ID in Settings across all devices

      • Mohammed Sahib

        Already did.

  • Gs Jing

    my iphone doesn’t appear phone number into Start New Convercation…how to solve ? I am live in Cambodia

  • AminTj

    does anyone know a way to enable iMessage by by number?!
    our carrier blocked iMessage sms activation!
    it mean you cant activate iMessage by your number just email!
    any white or grey hack method?!

  • lompi129

    Could someone help, there is not an option for “iPhone Cellular Calls” in my FaceTime, iPhone 6 Verizon 8.1 or my MacBook Pro Late 2011 10.10.

  • JS3

    i have been making phone calls on my ipad since ios 8 came out? i dont understand what the big deal is? phone calls and imessage have been working for me its just the SMS messages that is new for me and i love it! i also love how i can now use my actual phone number on my ipad and now my apple id email to start messages. pretty cool i must say!!!

  • Lurker22

    It just works?

  • Jason Nolan

    I don’t have the option to turn on iPhone cellular calls on my iPhone or my iMac why?

    • Are you sure you’re on iOS 8.1 already?

      If you are, try signing out from iCloud on both devices then signing back in. That’s what I did, and the option suddenly appeared. Good luck!

  • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

    Ive had this problem, what I did was turned off iMessage, turned it back on and it enabled my phone number and my Apple ID. From there I was able to connect to my mac as soon as I flipped the switch.

    • Maix Periyon

      please could you explain yourself a little clearer i don’t get what you just said

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        All I said was disable imessage, enable it again. If that doesn’t work then sign out of your Apple id, sign back in and enable imessage. It should work

      • Maix Periyon

        thats the question, disable iMessage on the computer or the phone? and even after disabling it on the phone, my number is still showing on the computer and now i enabled it back on the phone and its saying waiting for activation. thanks for bothering to reply in the first place

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        Disable it on both, then enable it. They need to correspond with either.

      • Maix Periyon

        thanks i would try it out

  • I’ve done everything and cannot get “text message forwarding” to appear on my iphone. This is really pissing me off.

    • Follow step 1: Go to your iPhone’s Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and choose “Use your Apple ID for iMessage”.

      After that, the setting should appear. It took me awhile to figure that out too…-_-

  • Michael

    THANK YOU!!!!!!! Messed with trying to get text forwarding for an hour before I found this perfect solution to my problem.

  • Leopoldo

    I did everything, but nothing. I receive calls, but no messaging.

  • Tallulah Alice Mae


  • Maix Periyon

    well my mac isn’t generating any code for my text message forwarding anyone got an idea on how to fix that

  • Cassidy

    My verification code on my MacBook Air is gone and I didn’t get to verify it. Help?

  • Joseph Mahoney-Moncreiff

    I’m getting the code but the slider next to the device i’m trying to pair isn’t turning green.