Char Talk

If you are playing around with Yosemite’s SMS relay feature and pissing off all your Android-using buddies with your cropped text messages, boy have I got the fix for you.


I experienced this problem firsthand as soon as I upgraded to Yosemite and eagerly started sending SMS messages via the Messages app. My friend was not nearly as enthusiastic about my new toy, as you can see. So why were my texts cropped? Well, after counting the number of characters the texts were getting split into and googling around, I discovered that it’s a character encoding issue!

It seems that SMS messages are split into 67-character chunks (rather than the typical 160-character limit) when they’ve got funky Unicode symbols in them. This can be really rough when you’re texting in a non-Latin language — texts aren’t cheap! But it was also a big problem for us. So, what Unicode symbols was I using?

I noticed that the split texts all had apostrophes in them. And, well, my apostrophes were looking super classy, thanks to the new text replacement features introduced in Mavericks. Unicode! All these attractive quotes and dashes were coming at a pretty steep price, so it was time to make a change.

You can remove smart quotes and dashes system-wide, but for our purposes, we’re only going to remove them in Messages.

To do this, navigate to Edit > Substitutions > Show Substitutions in the Messages app, and deselect everything.


And that’s all there is to it! Now your texts will retain their generous 160 character length, and your friends will be slightly less annoyed with you. Glory be.

(PS: check out my post on using AppleScript as an SMS/iMessage relay if you’d like to flip the script and use your Stone Age device to communicate via iMessage.)