Command-Line – How to Send Mobile Text Message from Terminal

bashcommand linesmswindows-subsystem-for-linux

I've just lost my phone. I know it's here in my house cause I used it last night and my bluetooth speakers will connect to it this morning.

How can I text my phone using bash? Then the phone notification will sound and I can find my phone.

Note: I asked for a bash solution because it's simpler than installing and configuring a GUI. Also I am more comfortable working in bash than python, HTML, or java, etc. Finally a bash solution works in Windows 10 when you use the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Note 2: Reply to comments:

  • I don't have a landline so I can't simply call my smartphone.
  • It was 6 am on Sunday morning when I lost my phone. People I could email to call my phone were sleeping. I was unsure of the battery charge level and if it died, I could never text it.
  • A few weeks previously I had turned off email sound notifications on my smartphone so I couldn't email myself.
  • I don't have skype or any VOIP service providers

After 30 minutes I did find the smartphone by texting it using the answer I posted below. It was hidden underneath 4" high-from-floor furniture shelf in the living-room…

Best Answer

SMS Texting from Terminal / Shell / Bash

For the following steps open a terminal prompt aka "Command Line Interface" or "CLI". In most Linux distributions do this using Ctrl+Alt+T to send text from bash

I found a reddit article: Send an SMS Text Message from the Command Line with this Bash / Terminal command you can use:

curl -X POST \
   --data-urlencode phone='7801234567' \
   --data-urlencode message='Find Your Phone!' \
   -d key=textbelt

Replace 7801234567 with your phone number. If you are texting an international phone number (outside Canada / USA) follow these instructions.

Note: The software replaces "Find Your Phone!" with a message that you need to purchase a key to use a custom message. But the software still insists you must provide a message that gets overwritten.

Other reasons for sending SMS Text Message from Bash

Finding my smartphone was an unusual need to send an SMS text message from Bash. You might have a few people that should be texted when:

  • Disks are about to fail (or other hardware errors occurred)
  • Disk space utilization exceeds threshold, for example 90%
  • RAM is full and swap is being used heavily
  • Web server is experiencing external attacks
  • A user had too many invalid sign-ons and account is deactivated
  • A specific job has been run which effects key processes
  • A door badge reader monitors a certain door being unlocked is Free for one text per day

Only one free SMS message a day can be sent by a given sender. Here is an example of the first and second attempts on one day:

$ find-phone # bash script with above command

$ find-phone
{"success":false,"error":"Only one test text message is allowed per day.","quotaRemaining":0}

Note: You maybe able to reset your router's IP address for more than one text per day but I haven't tested this yet.

You can use prepaid unlimited texts. There are many SMS gateway services available. Pricing at above vendor link varies from $0.03 to $0.15 per text. This is for reference and not an endorsement nor recommendation. Please do your homework and search for reputable pay-for-service vendors at best prices.

Create Bash Script

You could create a bash script called sms containing:

curl -X POST --data-urlencode phone='$1' --data-urlencode message='$2' -d key=textbelt
  • Send SMS message using sms 7801234567 "Hello World"
  • Thank you Fabby for testing this from the EU and confirming it works there.

Send Email to carrier of the smartphone with SMS Text Message

For the following all you need is a web browser like FireFox, Internet Explorer or Chrome. No need to dive into the "bowels of bash" or limit yourself to one free text per day.

Many carriers allow you to send SMS Text Message to a smartphone by addressing an email to

Phone Number look up to get carrier's website address

To get the provider's website address using the phone number go to: Imagine we entered the phone number: 7801234567:

Fee Carrier Lookup.png

We are told the email address to use is Now send an email to this address and your phone will sound with a notification.

Of course if you have your smartphone configured to sound with a notification when email arrives you can simply email your phone in the first place!

CLI interface for sending email address

In Ask Ubuntu there are many questions and answers on how to send email using bash. I'm using ssmtp (Secure Simple Mail Transport Protocol) for my cron daily backups: Backup Linux configuration, scripts and documents to Gmail

Although this setup is for one user, you can create a file with multiple users to text messages to:

Name         Email Address
Tiny Tim
Mrs. Clause
Bad Elf

Then in your bash code something like this:

ssmtp < mail.txt

Where mail.txt looks like this:

Subject: Nightly Database Update FAILED
Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf8"

<div style="
    #abcdef; width: 300px;
    height: 300px;
Nightly database update failed at procedure: AP005.

There are many ways of sending email from bash. This is just one example. The important thing is the email address contains the smartphone number followed by the smartphone provider's web address

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