Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Technology Lesson: How to Text Message

As a warning, this is a very basic overview of how to send and receive text messages. Every phone is a little different. This lesson will be more applicable for basic cellphones—cell phones without full keyboards. Cell phones that are not smartphones. Be sure to check your phone's manual for— more information. If you can't locate your manual, try visiting the Web site for your phone's manufacturer.

Sending A Text Message

1. Get your phone. Turn it on.

2. Go to your MENU. The menu is where you'll find your settings, tools, and your contacts. There might be a button on your phone labeled menu. (Some phones might use the key that says OK to take you to the menu. Mine is not labeled at all, but bigger than the other keys on my phone.) It is most likely in a prominent location.

3. When you are on your menu screen look for your MESSAGES or MESSAGE CENTER. You may need to use keys on your phone to highlight the word and/or icon to get to your MESSAGES/MESSAGE CENTER.You'll need to hit your main (menu or OK, probably) button.

Your phone might provide a shortcut to the MESSAGE CENTER. On my phone's main screen says MENU and MESSAGE on the left and CONTACTS on the right. If I press the left softkey (the key with a dash on it—these keys are generally on the right and left of the phone next to the menu button) I'll go to my text messages. If press the other key, I'll go directly to my list of contacts.

4. You may have visited your MESSAGE CENTER before. This is where you access your voicemail. (If you dial 1 to check your voicemail, it's possible that you haven't.)

Use your keys to highlight NEW MESSAGE. (Or maybe TEXT MESSAGE.) Go there. If your phone takes photos, your phone might provide two options (TXT MSG/TEXT MESSAGE or PICTURE MESSAGE). Chose TXT MSG/TEXT MESSAGE.

5. Now you'll need to choose your contact. On my phone there is a long blank list. You cursor will go to the first line by default. You can type out the number, but I only advise that if the recipient is not already in your phone. Your phone may vary on this step. On my phone, I need to use the right softkey to access my contacts. (I can also choose from recent calls, which is faster than scrolling to the named I need.) Find your contact, and confirm that person. (Repeat as necessary.) You should return to the list of numbers. (This list might be over the text message space. If so, move down to that box.) Press the OK/Menu button to get to the next screen.

6. Type your message. If you have a keyboard, each letter has its own key. That means texting is super easy for you. If you have a regular keyboard, that means each number has a second function. Numbers 2 through 9 have three letters assigned to each key. (Like a rotary phone; 9 has four letters.) The # key will have a bracket. That is your SPACE key. Your 1 key is your punctuation key.

There are two ways to type your message. You can press the keys for each individual letter ("abc" mode) or you can press the key once and your phone will put the word together based on your combination of keys (T9 or "word" mode). You access these options by pressing your softkey. It will be on the side that says "abc". There should also be an option for capital letters ("ABC") and an option for symbols and characters. (A handy shortcut and alternative to pressing 1 several times.)

So if you are using abc and you want to type "hello" you would press the 4 key twice, going past "g" to get "h", the 3 key twice, passing "d" to get to "e", pressing the 5 key three times, passing "j" and "k" to get to "l", doing that again, and pressing the 6 key three times, passing "m" and "n" to get to "o".

But if you use T9 or "word" you would only need to press the 4 and 3 keys once, the 5 key twice, and the 6 key once to spell hello. T9 has some disadvantages. Some words, like GOOD and HOME use the same keys. My phone won't accept IS and always displays GP. (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.)

Type your message. You'll have a character limit. Mine is 160 characters. If you go over, the recipient will receive multiple messages at once, which might irritate the recipient.

7. When you're done, press SEND. This is probably your Menu/OK key.

Good job! You sent a text message.

A faster alternative is to look up your contact (by going to the contacts list, recent calls, or using speed dial), click OPTIONS (using a softkey, likely), choose NEW TXT MSG, type your message, and send.

Receiving A Text Message

This is much easier. Depending on your settings, your phone will post an alert on your phone. (In addition to playing a ringtone/buzzing.) You can accept the message or ignore it. You can retrieve it—and your other messages—by going to your MESSAGE CENTER.

Goodness. I am exhausted! I assure you that texting will not wear you out.

Additional Resources:
iPhone Basics: How to Send a Text Message to Multiple People, Art of the iPhone

No comments: