When you lose your phone or leave it at home, the first thought that goes through your minds is probably "How will I read my messages?" Depending on the type of phone you have and your wireless carrier, you may be able to view text messages online. Some carriers provide advanced message services that allow you to send and view messages from a variety of devices, while others only let you see a log of messages and don't provide access to text message content.
Verizon Message+ App
The Verizon provides the Message+ app that lets customers sync text messages across smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and computers. Messages can be sent and received without a phone, even if the phone is turned off. The app is available for Android, Apple and Windows 10 systems.
If you use Message+, you can also view your messages online at the Verizon Messages website and make phone calls from tablets and smartwatches. The Message+ app is available to all wireless subscribers at no additional charge.
AT&T Message Backup & Sync
AT&T wireless customers have the benefit of having their text messages backed up in the cloud for 90 days. Messages can be sent, received and synced across smart devices, tablets and computers. You can also view messages using the AT&T Messages app or online at message.att.net. An app called AT&T NumberSync is available to view messages on smart watches.
Every AT&T wireless number has an email address associated with it. This provides additional flexibility for viewing messages. When you send an email to a phone's email address, it will be delivered as a text message. You can also send a text message from a phone to the address and it will be delivered as an email.
Check My Text Messages Online with T-Mobile
T-Mobile allows customers to view a log of text messages from the Usage section of their account. The log shows the date, time, geographic destination and phone number for both incoming and outgoing messages. However, there is no way to view the contents of messages.
View Sprint Message Logs
Customers of Sprint have access to the same type of messaging data as T-Mobile customers. When you login to your My Sprint account you can see details about messages including the date and time as well as the sending and receiving phone numbers. Text details are available for 90 days and can be downloaded or printed from the website.
SMS Messaging vs. Email
Text messages use Short Message Service (SMS), a communications protocol developed to work over cellular networks. Email is an electronic form of communication that allows messages to be viewed and sent from a computer application or web browser. If you know you want to send messages that you can view both on your smartphone and online, it may make more sense to use email.
Phone Spy Apps
There are several apps available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store that allow you to view the text messages on another phone. Most are marketed as a way for parents to monitor the communication of their children or employers their employees. You must install the app on the target phone, supposedly with the other person's knowledge and permission. An example of this type of app is mSpy, which provides access to text message content and GPS location as well as communication on Snapchat, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Most phone spy apps from reputable companies charge a subscription fee for their service, including mSpy. You can find free applications that run from a computer and claim to track the messages on a smartphone, but computer security experts recommend that you exercise caution. Some have hidden fees while others are decoys for viruses that can infect your computer when you download them.