Most commonly, texting (sending short messages from a mobile phone) is used for person-to-person
messaging, but text messages often interact with automated systems, usually through
Common Short Codes (CSC). These days, it's possible to find out just about anything
if you're armed with a cell phone and the right CSC. Check with your service provider
first, though-additional charges may apply. Premium services also charge a fee, usually
$0.25 per message, and most opt-in services charge a monthly or annual fee. Simply
access the messaging function on your cell phone and type a short message according
to the required format. Send the text and the reply will contain:
1. Phone numbers. GOOGL (46645), YAHOO (92466), US411 (87411 or 310-904-3113), TELLME
(83556) and 4INFO (44636) will instantly retrieve business listings for whatever area
code you input.
2. Local business listings. Text "Papa Gino's" with either "Billerica" or "01821,"
and GOOGL, YAHOO, 4INFO, or US411 will reply with the address "480 Boston Rd #55."
Text "pizza" with the ZIP code and get a complete listing.
3. Driving directions. Send a text message to US411 or GOOGL to get turn-by-turn directions.
The format is "starting address to destination."
4. Traffic reports. Send a text message to TRAFC (87232) with the name of the city,
and receive an instant report on traffic conditions.
5. WiFi hotspot locations. Send a text message to YAHOO, GOOGL, 4INFO or US411 with
the word "wifi" and a ZIP code to receive information about the nearest WiFi hotspots.
6. Weather reports. By sending the text message "Weather 90210," or "Weather Beverly
Hills, CA," to GOOGL, YAHOO, 4INFO, or US411 you'll receive a current weather forecast.
7. Package tracking. Send a text message to GOOGL, YAHOO, US411, or 4INFO with your
UPS or FedEx tracking number, and they'll alert you with the status.
8. Flight status. Find out if your American Airlines flight is delayed by sending
the flight information, for example "AA 793," to GOOGL or 4INFO.
9. Movie show times. Send a text message to GOOGL or Mobile CANDY Dish (22639) with
the name of the movie and your ZIP code, and find out when and where that movie is
10. Metric conversions. By text messaging "2 quarts in liters" to GOOGL, you'll discover
that "2 US quarts = 1.8927059 liters."
11. Currency exchange rates. You will learn that "US$ 500 = 381.388253 Euros," by
messaging "$500 in euros" or "500 USD in euros" to GOOGL.
12. Horoscopes. Send a text message to 4INFO with your sun sign, and get an instant
13. Stock quotes. Send a text message to GOOGL, YAHOO, or US411 with the word "stock"
and the stock symbol, and get an instant quote sent to your wireless phone.
14. Word definitions. Send the text message "define:" followed by your word without
spaces to GOOGL. The text message "define:philtrum" will net the result "The vertical
groove or dimple in the upper lip." A similar search is available at YAHOO and US411
by sending the text message "d" and the word.
15. Language translation. Send a text message to GOOGL, YAHOO, or US411 in the correct
format - "translate dog to Spanish" - and you'll get an (almost) instant translation:
"Dog in English means 'perro' in Spanish."
16. Answers to questions. What is the population of Finland? Who wrote To Kill
a Mockingbird? Win a trivia contest or settle a bet by sending a text message
to GOOGL or ASKME (27563).
Sign up for daily text messages, and you can:
17. Get all the latest news. Many news agencies - radio, print and television - allow
users to sign up for cell phone alerts, keeping them connected with what's happening
around the world or in their corner of it.
18. Practice your religion. LG Electronics and Ilkone Mobile Telecommunications make
phones that indicate the direction of Mecca for Muslim worshippers. Catholic subscribers
can receive a daily text message from the Pope with his thought for the day. AskMoses
will send text messages alerting subscribers to Shabbat times. Mfaith and 4INFO
will send subscribers a daily Bible message. Sign up at Insptoday for a daily inspirational
19. Support your favorite political candidate. Supporters of Hilary Rodham Clinton
can send the word "join" to short code 77007 to receive updates, news, personal messages,
and photos. Barack Obama's supporters can send the word "go" to the short code 62262
20. Monitor your eBay auction. Receive "outbid" and "item ending soon" alerts for
any item you choose, and re-bid on an item by replying to the message.
21. Get a daily traffic report. MyTraffic is a personalized daily drive report that
sends a text message to your cell phone right when you need it-before you leave for
22. Check the weather. Sign up at Accuweather to receive a daily text message with
a weather report for your area.
23. Take medications on time. Sign up at OnCellRx to receive text messages when it's
time to take your medicine. Set up as many reminders as you want for yourself or a
24. Increase your vocabulary. Sign up online at WordSmart or 4INFO and receive a text
message with a new word and its definition every day.
25. Make yourself laugh. Sign up at SMS4jokes, 4INFO, Comedy Central's CCLOL (22565)
or Info4SMS and receive a daily text message joke.
26. Help find a missing child. Sign up at WirelessAmberAlerts to receive free Amber
Alerts on your wireless phone.
27. Check your lottery numbers. Sign up for a daily message from B4U to receive the
winning lottery numbers for your state's games.
28. Learn astronomy. Subscribers to eZipSky receive a text message every evening at
dusk describing what's happening in the night sky and where to look.
29. Be inspired. Receive daily horoscopes, inspirational quotes, insults, weird news,
riddles, word games, diet tips, romantic advice, or trivia from 4INFO and many others.
And that's not all! Here are even more interesting things you can do using text messaging.
30. Register to vote. Send a text message with the word "voter" to TxtVoter (75444),
the wireless voter registration service. Answer a few questions and get a completed
voter registration form in the mail.
31. Make a charitable donation. Users can contribute $5 to the Hurricane Katrina relief
efforts by sending a text message to the American Red Cross at 2HELP (24357). The
maximum contribution is $25 - five text messages. Users can also text message the
word "heal" to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund (50555) to donate $4.99 for career
musicians who are facing illness, disability or age-related problems.
32. Comparison-shop while you're at the store. ScanBuy Shopper allows you to enter
a product's barcode and compare online prices, access reviews, and even redeem coupons.
Send a text message to GOOGL, YAHOO or 4INFO with the word "price" and the bar code
number or a short description of the item.
33. Interact with TV and radio shows. Vote for your favorite "American Idol" contestant
by sending a text message. Play along with the Game Show Network's interactive contests.
Enter to win free tickets to a local concert.
34. Keep up with your favorite sports team. Simply send the name of the team to GOOGL
or 4INFO, and receive scores and schedule information. Send a player's name and get
their statistics. To get daily text alerts, sign up at all major league sports official
sites. Many college team sites offer similar information.
35. Keep up with your favorite TV shows. Text "chop" to 4AETV (42388) to see what's
happening on "King of Cars." Text "bite" to FOOD1 (36631) to receive the Food Network's
text message newsletter. Get exclusive behind-the-scenes information about "Top Chef"
by texting "tc" to BRAVO (27286). Receive mobile alerts about "The 4400" by sending
"y" to the USA Network (62288).
36. Track your investments. Get a daily stock report from 4INFO. Many brokerage firms
offer updates on a regular schedule or whenever a specific event occurs.
37. Advertise your business. Send your customers a mobile coupon, alert them before
prices increase, or notify them about special offers.
38. Publish a novel. Finnish author Hannu Luntiala recently published The Last
Messages, a novel in which the entire narrative consists of wireless phone text
39. Buy snacks. Some vending machines allow payment by sending a text message; the
cost of the item is added to the user's phone bill or subtracted from the user's prepaid
40. Send money. PayPal Mobile works with your existing PayPal account to send and
receive money. Send a text message to PAYPAL (729725) with the amount and the recipient's
email address or phone number. Enter your PIN to confirm it, and PayPal notifies the
recipient of the payment and gives instructions on how to retrieve it. Obopay creates
an account fund, either by linking a bank account or credit card or by mailing a check;
Textpayme offers a similar service.
41. Buy a house. Receive instant information about a home by texting the house's code
(as advertised on the For Sale sign) to House4Cell (30364).
While smart phones and personal digital assistants offer functionality and connectivity,
including Internet access, instant messaging, and scheduling software, any phone with
text capability can keep you connected to the world.
For a complete listing of Common Short Codes, visit the US Common Short Code WHOIS
Directory or the Common Short Code Campaign Directory.