Setup Free Visual Voicemail

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Feel free to browse the other settings and make any desired changes. If you don’t use gmail, you may want to click on the “Voicemail & Text” tab to change the email account. Your transcribed voicemails will be sent to this email address.

Now that you have finished configuring Google Voice, you need to have your mobile phone conditionally forward calls to your Google Voice number. This type of call forwarding will only work when you don’t pick up your phone. Instead of going to your mobile phone’s voicemail, the call will roll over to Google Voice after a few rings. Google Voice will record voicemail, transcribe it, and send it to your inbox (both email and Google Voice, by default).

Depending on your carrier, there are different ways to turn on conditional call forwarding. Here’s how to do it for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon…

Turn on conditional call forwarding:

  • AT&T: *004*1 then the 10 digit Google Voice number then # then press call, wait for tones
  • Sprint/Verizon: *71 then the 10 digit Google Voice number then press call, wait
    for tones

If you no longer wish to use Google Voice for voicemail, simply turn off conditional call forwarding.

Turn off conditional call forwarding:

  • AT&T: ##004# then press call, wait for tones
  • Sprint: *730 then press call, wait for tones
  • Verizon: *73 then press call, wait for tones

Once you have turned on conditional call forwarding, your missed calls will roll over to Google Voice. These messages will be transcribed and sent to your email and Google Voice inboxes. When you browse a visual voicemail message, you also have the option to play back the audio recording. This may be necessary, as the transcriptions are not perfect.

Google Voice voicemail transcription
The message I actually left was: “Testing Google Voice visual voicemail. This voicemail should be transcribed to text. I hope it works.” Not bad, considering the speech recognition is operating on phone-call-quality audio. You can click the “Play message” link to listen to the message if the transcription doesn’t make sense.

Even with the transcription errors, I find it much easier to deal with voicemails using a visual inbox. Traditional voicemail menus are tedious!

You can also download the Google Voice app for the iPhone. In addition to the voicemail inbox, you can also make calls using your Google Voice number. Much like Skype, this is a great way to cut down on minutes used, particularly if you are on a wi-fi network. Keep in mind, if you are using your data plan for Google Voice calls, you might be charged for it. It all depends on your plan.

Google Voice is free when calling within the U.S. and Canada. You can add money to your account for overseas long distance calls.

There are other options for visual voicemail, if you require something with more direct integration. Every major carrier has their own visual voicemail system. They charge a fee for using these services, but offer easier setup and tighter integration.

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