Use Google Calendar To Send Free SMS

googlesmsGoogle Calendar includes an option to send reminders via SMS -- but with a little tweaking, you can use it as a means of getting free SMS messages from your friends and family.

Reader Chris L writes in with this suggestion:

Create a publicly editable calendar, and set SMS notifications for it. A friend simply has to add an event a few minutes into the future and then it will send you an SMS.

Frankly, I thought this sounded unlikely when I read it, but on testing it works fine. (Doubtless the fact that in Google's home US market SMS charges are paid by the receiver led to the creation of this loophole.)

To set this up, create a new calendar within Google and tick the 'Make this calendar public' option. Add any friends who you want to use the service in the 'Share with specific people' section, and set the option to allow them to make changes. Then click on the Settings options, click on Notifications, and select SMS notifications. This screen will also let you set up your own phone number to receive notifications if you haven't done that in the past (Google sends a confirmation via SMS which you'll need to register).

Potentially, if everyone you knew set up a similar calendar, you could all send messages without incurring any costs. Of course, that presumes you're near a PC where you can enter the relevant details, but it's a clever hack for the cost-conscious. Thanks Chris!


Comments

    Receiver pays for SMS in the US? Wow. What kind of thinking led to that arrangement?

    That sounds like a lot of work to be honest

    I've considered this before, but I'm finally prompted to give it a go. However, my concern is this: anyone with the authority to create an event also has the authority to view other events. That is, everyone can see everyone else's text messages. I guess we'll have to keep paying if we want privacy.

      Further to my last comment, I think I've found a couple of ways around the privacy issue, though neither are perfect.

      Set up a dummy secondary calendar which automatically accepts invitations. The 'sender' simply adds you as a guest to their own event, containing the message. Your options now are to have an SMS notification sent to inform you of the new invitation (unfortunately, much of the message is taken up by a garbled email address), or to have a reminder sent a minute or two before the event (requiring the sender to set the time of the event carefully).

      In either case, this would wreak havoc on any GCal users who already have a system for dealing with invitations.

    Pair this with Google Sync / NuevaSync on your compatible ActiveSync device, and then you can add events to other calendars from your phone as well. :) No need to be near a computer

    It was actually my friend Peter Shi who thought of this idea - he just let me send it into Lifehacker

    Been doing on occasion for a while but its a hassle, best left to those who are truly broke, and whose prepaid has run out.
    But the gCal SMS reminders are a treat, I couldn't believe it when I saw them a couple of years ago. Save my forgetful skin more than once!

    I live in the US and my provider is AT&T. I get charged for every SMS I send AND every SMS I recieve.

    /me waits for sms to be killed by good old email.

    Hi everyone, I create little web site which enable sending Google cal. SMS reminders as a regular SMS messages. Just register your mobile enabled Gcal account with supervelja.com and then you can send sms reminders to one or many registered users …

    Google Calendar SMS is not supported by our prepaid T-Mobile plan but we found a workaround. Send email reminders to the gmail account and then create a filter to auto forward those emails to the T-Mobile email to text option ([email protected]) works brilliantly!

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