There is no real Windows app for Google Messages and it drives me crazy

Google Messages SMS logo on a phone screen.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Starting as Android messaging, Google Messaging (now officially known as Messaging, confusingly) has become the de facto app for sending text messages on Android. Even Samsung – one of the biggest loyalists when it comes to using proprietary apps for things – offers Messaging as the default app on some of its phones. But no matter how comprehensive the app is, one thing that is missing is a Google Messages Windows app.

“Now, wait a minute,” I can hear you say. “I’m texting from my Windows PC all the time using the web app at” I’m sure you do, dear reader, but it’s not a Windows app and is seriously anemic compared to what a genuine Windows app could be.

Honestly, the lack of a bonafide app on my pc drives me crazy and I want to explain why. First, though, I want to tell you about an app that used to be exactly what I wanted.

Android Messages Desktop by Chris Knepper

Android Messages Desktop Chris Knepper screenshot

The main problem with Google’s own messaging web app is that you have to keep it open in a browser tab. If it is not actively open, you will not receive notifications on your PC. You must open your browser whenever you want to use it.

Developer Chris Knepper worked around this issue by building an application across platforms for Windows, macOS and Linux. It’s called Android Messages Desktop. In essence, the app creates a web wrap that integrates the Messages web app. But Knepper took things a step further by creating a complete messaging system integrated with the operating system. He even went so far as to include a system tray icon for the Google Messages version of Windows.

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The problem – as you may have guessed from the name of Knepper’s app – is that the developer has not updated this app since 2019. Since then, it has become incompatible with Windows 11 and probably has lots of other issues on other operating systems.

When it worked, though, it was perfect. You can easily set it up so that it started minimized to the taskbar when Windows starts. Messages would come through the same as any other Windows app – no open browser required. The system tray and taskbar icons had message tags that you could view at any time, and you still had all the settings and features of the default web app, including rich communication services (RCS) support.

Android Messages Desktop has been one of my most essential Windows apps for years. Now that it does not work, however, I can not find a suitable replacement.

Lots of solutions, but none are perfect

Screenshot of your phone from Microsoft 2021

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

When I realized that Knepper’s app would not work for me anymore, I started looking for something that could duplicate the experience. I discovered that there are a wealth of ways to send text messages via Messages on your PC, even without a good Google Messages Windows app. Here are the solutions I found and why they can not be compared to Kneppers.

  • Messages for the web: I have already mentioned the great limitation of this, but I will repeat it again here for posterity. For this web app to work, it must be open in a browser tab. Even if you install the progressive web app (PWA), you can not close the window, otherwise you will miss messages. There is also no system tray icon or message badge on the taskbar icon.
  • Phone link: Microsoft’s app that lets you use your phone from your PC works pretty well. It is compatible with a multitude of different phones and integrates with Google Messages. Its biggest problem, though, is a huge one: It does not support RCS. Without RCS support, Phone Link is useless to me. Either way, there is also no system tray icon (at least no one launches the app and tells you if you have messages).
  • Android Messages Desktop (Buttons): Does not work at all with Windows 11 (and possibly other operating systems). When you configure the app, it never connects to Google’s servers, leaving you with a blank white screen.
  • Google Desktop Messages: This is another webwrapper program designed by an indie developer. It looks like it was once great, but it has not seen an update since early 2021. When you try to install the latest version today, you get a warning that it is using an old build of Nativefier and is a serious security risk.

Finally, there is Android Messages Desktop by OrangeDrangon. This is a direct port of Knepper’s app, but is more up-to-date. It’s almost perfect, without the use of a web browser, a system tray with a notification badge, and just about every other feature of the Buttons app. However, it is uncertified, making it a significant security risk. Windows will warn you about this when you try to install it. It also has some quality of life issues, such as blurry images. But for now, this is the best thing out there and what I use in the meantime.

A Google Messages Windows app should come from the source

Google Store NYC opening tour with the Google logo.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

No matter how well Knepper’s app worked (or even how well OrangeDrangon’s app might work in the future), there’s no way to ignore the elephant in space: this app should come from Google. The company understands that people want to use Messages on their PCs, which is why the web portal exists. However, Google is lazy and keeps it a PWA. This is probably so it does not have to bother developing and maintaining the app for all the major operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.).

Messaging will never be iMessage for Android users until Google makes a robust PC application.

Given that iPhone users are going to use iMessage through macOS as easily as a cake, it makes no sense for Google to ignore this. Microsoft’s Phone Link is a good start, but Google can not just leave it to Microsoft. This is especially true when Microsoft believes that it is somehow not supporting RCS.

As it stands now, a large proportion of Android users also have Windows computers. We want a fully-featured application that allows us to use Google Messages in Windows as easily as iPhone users can do on macOS. Google cannot do all the work to make Messages as good as iMessage while ignoring this fundamental issue.

What’s worse is that a developer named Chris Knepper was able to do it all by himself. Obviously, Google can do that too. It just has to actually do it.

Are you happy with the Messages web app on your computer?

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