How to get your most important emails as text messages

By automatically forwarding certain emails to SMS, you can skip constantly monitoring your inbox and still never miss an important email.

Waiting for an important email to come in is a true test of patience. You hit refresh. Nothing. A few minutes later, refresh again with still no luck. You can end this agony and be notified as soon as your desired email response comes in with a simple email-to-SMS forwarding rule. This is also handy when you just want to stay out of your crowded inbox but get important emails via text messages on your phone--wherever you are and whether or not you have a good internet connection.

(When my power was out during Hurricane Sandy and data connection on my cell phone wasn't happening, I was still able to use SMS--and with these forwarding rules, emails from my critical contacts came in as text messages.)

Most email providers and clients allow you to either send text alerts to your cell phone or forward emails to another address. Yahoo! and Hotmail, for example, have settings where you can enter your mobile phone number and get alerts for either all emails or just specific ones. In Gmail, you can create a filter than sends certain emails to your cell phone number's associated email address. Here are the instructions:

In Gmail, go to Settings > Filters and click the link "Create a new filter" at the bottom. In the new window, enter your forwarding criteria (e.g., if you want all emails from your boss forwarded as SMS, enter his/her email in the From box), then select the "Forward it to" checkbox and click on the "Add a new forwarding address" link. Add your cell phone email address as the forwarding address.

Your cell phone email address will most likely be your 10-digit number + @[your carrier's email]. For T-Mobile, an example is 1112223333@tmomail.net. Verizon Wireless customers should use @vtext.com as the last part of the email address (e.g., 1112223333@vtext.com), Sprint PCS customers should use @messaging.sprintpcs.com, and AT&T customers @mobile.att.net. See PCMag's list of SMS emails for more carriers and information.

For Yahoo! Mail, create a new filter under the email Options, with the criteria for sender, subject, body, etc. Then check the box "Send an alert to my Mobile Device." Your mobile phone number will need to be saved in your Yahoo! profile.

In Outlook (2007 and 2010), the settings to forward emails to a mobile phone are located under Outlook Options, under the "Mobile" section. Click the "Configure Forwarding" button and you can set your mobile number there and which kinds of emails you want forwarded.

In Hotmail, go to your email settings, then SMS services to configure your alert criteria (e.g., SMS alerts only from a set of recipients or certain times of the day).

If you have your cell phone nearby at all times, but don't want to (or can't) monitor your inbox constantly, these filters can give you peace of mind. You'll know as soon as possible when an email from that VIP client or contact has come in.

Image by SimonQ錫濛譙

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