Receive and reply to text messages via email

Why you should care

Do you put your business's phone number in your advertising? Send out automated text message reminders and notifications? Or make a lot of outbound calls to people? Then surprise 🎉🎈 People are most likely texting your business. They’re texting you whether or not you tell them that they can (and there are many reasons to let them know they can).

That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to start viewing and responding to text messages from the comfort of your existing email account. Regardless of the email account provider you use (e.g. Gmail, Outlook, etc.)

But why email? While we’re continuing to build our own application for viewing and responding to messages, we’ve also introduced the ability to do this via email because:

  • It’s easy to get started. Nobody needs to remember to log into a new application and learn how it works because they can rely on the tool most professionals already use throughout the day, email!

  • It’s mobile. Most major email providers have an app for you to view and respond to emails on your phone. So with that mobile app you can also respond to text messages on the go.

  • It’s easy to manage. Most businesses already have people and tools in place to make sure emails are responded to in a timely manner. So adding text message into the flow is easy.

How to get started

Once you’ve created an account, added funds, and purchased a phone number (or had your existing phone numbers ported over or text-enabled), you’ll need to get your AccountSid and AuthToken. You can find these by logging into your account and going to the API Dashboard.


Next, add the AccountSid and AuthToken, plus the email address you want to receive and respond to text messages, to the highlighted sections in this URL -

After making these changes it should look something like this[email protected]&a=db82a515-d344-c243-34fe-999999999999&t=8b24ffc0b20a8b34bcd8f7ce999sds3c

Now you’re ready to add this url to the "SMS request url" setting for every phone number you want to enable this functionality for. It’s as simple as going to “Numbers” in the top navigation > clicking “Manage numbers”, finding the number(s) you want to add this functionality to, clicking the phone number(s) in question, navigating to SMS settings, pasting the url you created above into the “SMS request URL” field, and then clicking save.

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Now you’re all set and can start testing it out! Here’s an example of how it looks in Gmail.


Notice that the subject contains the phone number of the person who contacted you and will also display the Friendly Name associated with your Ytel phone number, if it has one.

When replying back to a text message via email, only the first 160 characters in the email will be sent. So be mindful to limit the length of your email. Also, make sure you remove your signature line from your emails replies if you don’t want them included in your text message to the customer.


Can I initiate new conversations via email? Not at this time, and potentially never. The inability to track opt-in methods via email makes initiating text message from email a compliance nightmare.

How much does this cost? For now it’s just the normal cost associated with your phone numbers and for sending and receiving text messages.

Can’t I just forward a text message to my cell phone number? Unfortunately text messages don’t work like emails. You can’t forward them to another number.

Can I send attachments or images? Yes! Simply add an attachment (limit to 1) to your email. We'll convert it into a link and it will get sent within a single SMS. Recipients will can view the files for up to 7 days. It supports jpeg, jpg, gif, and png file formats. No size limitations apply.


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