How to Connect Your iPhone to Windows 11, and Use iMessage on PC

Connect Iphone Windows11 Featured

iPhones are great, and so are Windows PCs. However, each lies in its own universe, and communication between the two devices is minimal. Luckily, you can still connect your iPhone to Windows 11 and reply to your iMessages and SMS, make calls, and view your iPhone's notifications on your PC seamlessly.

PhoneLink (previously "Your Phone" and sometimes "Link to Windows") is one of Microsoft's greatest innovations. This app has been around for quite some time, allowing Android users to establish sturdy communication between their Android phones and Windows PCs. It's well known that companies - and even individuals - can do nearly anything when Android is in the picture. Still, the case is trickier with iOS.

PhoneLink, however, works with iOS now, letting you do the basics. Let's see what we can do.

Note: You need to have Windows 11 on your PC and ensure you have the latest updates for the system and the PhoneLink app, which is already pre-installed.

  1. Launch the PhoneLink app and select "iPhone."
Phonelink Iphone
  1. A barcode will appear, and although there's an iOS app available, you don't need it. Just fire up the barcode reader on your iPhone and scan it. You can scan barcodes through the Control Center shortcut or through the camera app.
phonelink qr code
  1. Once you scan it, the "Link to Windows" app will magically pop up. This is based on Apple's App Clips, which is a feature that acts like Google's Instant Apps. Anyway, tap the "Open" button to proceed.
Open Link To Windows Iphone
  1. Once the app opens, click the "Connect" button.
Connect App
  1. The app will ask you to pair your iPhone with the Windows 11 PC using Bluetooth. The whole functionality relies on Bluetooth, exactly like how you connect your iPhone to a car or a smartwatch.
Allow Access To Bluetooth Phonelink Ios
  1. A pairing prompt (the one with weird codes) will appear on your iPhone and Windows 11 PC at the same time. Click/tap the "Pair" button.
Pair The Device Iphone Windows
  1. Right after pairing, a request will appear on your iPhone to allow notification access. Allow that.
Iphone Access To Notifications
  1. Back on Windows, you'll see that the app is asking for the required permissions. As a matter of fact, you will enable those to the Bluetooth device, not the app itself. Leave this window open and return to the iPhone.
Phonelink Windows Permissions
  1. To grant the required permissions, go to the Settings app on your iPhone, navigate to Bluetooth, and type the I icon next to your laptop label. Then enable "Show Notifications" and "Sync Contacts." Those will enable making and answering calls and messaging through the PhoneLink app. Revert back to the app on Windows and click "Continue."
Bluetooth Settings

Note: if the "Sync Contacts" toggle didn't appear, turn off the Bluetooth and turn it on again on your iPhone.

  1. After you're done with that, a welcome screen will appear, through which you can choose to let the app open when Windows starts, which is advised to keep the connection. Click the "Get Started" button.
Phonelink Welcome Screen 1
  1. You'll see all your notifications on the left and the "Messages" and "Calls" tabs at the top. Clicking on a contact's name will initiate a chat (whether SMS or iMessage, depending on the other party's phone OS).
Phonelink Options

Note: Although we're in 2023 and have already landed in outer space, Bluetooth is still a clingy technology. So, if things don't work right, you need to unpair and re-pair the devices and even turn off and on Bluetooth on both of them, as Microsoft advises.

Using PhoneLink with iPhone's iMessages, Calls, and Notifications

It's very straightforward to use PhoneLink with your iPhone. The app's main screen is really easy; you have your notifications on the left and can navigate between calls and tabs in the middle to the right area of the app.

  1. You don't have many options when it comes to notifications; you can only discard them by clicking the X button, clicking the three-dot icon to pin it, or turning off the notifications from this specific app. One important thing to know is that when you discard a notification on PhoneLink, it will also be discarded on your iPhone. This could help clean up the clutter and could result in missing something important, so be careful.
Phonelink Iphone Notifications
  1. You will see the notifications once you receive them, exactly like Windows 11 native notifications, and the notification count will appear over the icon and in the notifications center.
Phone Link Notifications
  1. The messages part will let you quickly click on a contact (or search for them through the search bar) and initiate a chat. Additionally, any iMessage or SMS you receive will appear there. The "Suggested Contacts" area is based on your iPhone's frequently contacted people.
Iphone Phonelink Messages 1

Note: The PhoneLink app will not tell you whether the contacted person owns an iPhone (uses iMessage) or SMS, so you should have this piece of information from earlier. Moreover, group chats are unsupported, and the iMessage bubbles have no colors. Also, the app won't sync your iPhone conversations, but the ones you make on PhoneLink will appear on your iPhone.

  1. The calls section is straightforward; you can click a contact to initiate a call using your PC's speakers and microphone or enter a number to dial. Another good thing is that PhoneLink will sync your call log.
Phonelink Iphone Calls
  1. Incoming calls, however, will appear as a pop-up since the PhoneLink app is running in the background, and you can take them while doing whatever you're doing on your PC.
Recieving Calls
Call Phonelink Windows

PhoneLink and Intel Unison: Which is Better for iPhone?

Intel has its own piece of software (Unison) that's almost similar to PhoneLink. While Unison has more features, it only works on PCs with Intel chips under the hood.

Intel Unison works in the same way as PhoneLink by using a Bluetooth connection. In addition, it allows access to the device's photos and videos and file transfer between the two devices.

To get a clearer glimpse, check out the following table:

FeaturePhoneLinkIntel Unison
CompatibilityAny Windows PC with Bluetooth and Windows 11Any Windows PC with specific requirements, including a recent Intel Core I processor and 8 GB of RAM
App RequirementsDoesn't require an app on iPhone.Requires Intel Unison iOS app to be running all the time. However, sometimes the calls and messages will sync without the app since they're based on the Bluetooth.
File Transfer and Gallery FunctionalityNoneAvailable
Messages (iMessage / SMS)Available (Better)Available
CallsAvailable (Better)Available

So yes, it may be a tough choice. However, the good news is that when you set up a Bluetooth connection correctly, the Intel Unison will work instantly once you install the app and scan the QR code. So, technically, you can use the two together, but be careful to properly set up notifications so you don't receive them twice.

More Windows and iPhone Functionalities with KDE Connect

Although PhoneLink is more than enough for essential uses, some iPhone users may need to extend some specific functionalities for several use cases. In this regard, KDE Connect is helpful software to use.

  1. Download KDE Connect on Windows via the Microsoft Store and on iPhone via the App Store.
  1. Make sure both devices are on the same Wi-Fi and open the app on them. On your iPhone, click on the device's name to start pairing, and accept the request on the PC.
Pair With Kde Connect
  1. From your iPhone, tap on the PC's name after connecting, and you'll be able to perform several actions, including pushing the clipboard, sharing files and photos, running commands, controlling slideshows, and more. Meanwhile, you can share files and ring the device on your PC.
Kde Connect Options

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I reply to iPhone notifications from Windows PhoneLink?

No, unlike Android, you can't reply to your iPhone's notifications from your PC. However, you can still reply to SMS and iMessages.

Can I link my iPhone to PhoneLink while it's connected to an Android device?

Yes, PhoneLink lets you connect several devices at once. Open PhoneLink's Settings, navigate to "My Devices," and then click the "+" icon to pair a new device.

Will I need to pair my Windows PC and iPhone through PhoneLink after a restart?

No, you'll only need to set up the pairing and customize the settings once. After that, your Windows 11 PC will always automatically connect to your iPhone through PhoneLink. However, you need to always keep Bluetooth activated on both devices. Additionally, ensure that you set up PhoneLink to launch automatically with startup and to work in the background; check those in "Settings -> General."

Why do my notifications disappear on my iPhone after using PhoneLink?

When you press the X button next to any notification on PhoneLink to make it disappear, it also disappears from your iPhone.

Image credit: Man hand holding smartphone displaying logo of Microsoft Windows 10 on screen by 123RF. All screenshots and images by Mustafa Ashour.

Mustafa Ashour
Mustafa Ashour

Mustafa is a tech content writer who's a geek at heart. His passion lies in writing about technology, especially software-related topics. He's also interested in digital marketing, business development, and entrepreneurship. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Finance.

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