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How to Overhaul Your Voicemail with Google Voice



Traditional carrier voicemail isn’t that bad, but it’s annoying when your callers have to hear your greeting and then listen through a robotic woman talking about what your options are, like “to hear a callback number, press 1. Or for more options, press 2.”

This gets really annoying. Plus, with traditional voicemail, you can only check it on your phone and listen to it. However, we’re going to show you a way that you can overhaul your voicemail and bring it into the 21st century.

For this tutorial, we’ll be using Google Voice, but don’t worry; once we have it all set up, you won’t even have to barely touch Google Voice in the future. Running your voicemail through Google Voice will allow you to get voicemails sent directly to your email or via a text message. Google Voice even transcribes your voicemails so you can read them — Yes! You can read your voicemails, and here’s how.


Set Up a Google Voice Number

Before you can overhaul your voicemail, you first need to get your own Google Voice number. If you already have a Google Voice number, skip this section and go down to the next one.

  • Log into your Google account, and then go to
  • A “Getting started” prompt will pop up. Click the check box saying that you agree with the terms and privacy policy, and then click Proceed.

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  • You’ll then set up your Google Voice Number; Click I want a new number.

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  • Next, you’ll add a forwarding phone. This is simply your current mobile phone number. Enter it in the text box and then select Mobile from the drop-down menu. Hit Continue.

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  • You’ll now have to verify that you own this number, so click Call me now and then when the nice robotic lady on the other side asks for the verification code, type in the two-digit number that you see on your computer screen into your phone’s keypad.

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  • Once your number is verified, the next screen will be where you choose your Google Voice Number. You can’t necessarily pick exactly what number you want, but you can pick a number based on a specific area code or word/phrase.

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  • Once you select a number that you want, click Continue, and that number will officially be yours. Congrats!
  • Click Finish on that last screen in order to go to the Google Voice control panel.

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Set Up Google Voice Voicemail

This is where we finally trade in your annoying and boring carrier voicemail for a much better alternative. Follow the steps below to make the switch:

  • If you somehow misplace yourself and aren’t at the Google Voice homepage, be sure you’re still logged into your Google account and visit
  • Next, click on the gear icon in the top-right corner of the window and select Settings.
  • You should see your phone number listed under Forward calls to and there should be a link that says Activate Google voicemail on this phone. Click on that link.

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  • You’ll be asked to dial a number shown in the window. Dial it, and the other end should answer it and hang up soon after.
  • When that’s done, click on Done, and your phone is now using Google Voice voicemail!

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Managing Your New Voicemail

Now that your phone is using Google Voice voicemail, you can customize the settings to optimize your voicemail experience. Here are the options that you can choose from:

  • In Settings, under the Phones tab, you can checkmark Notify me of new voicemails via text to have transcribed voicemails sent to you in a text message whenever you receive a new voicemail.
  • Under the Voicemail & Text tab is where you record your greeting, and it’s pretty self-explanatory to do so.
  • You can also have voicemails sent to your email address. Just put a checkmark next to Email the message to and then select your email address, or click Add a new email address if yours isn’t listed.
  • If you want transcribed voicemails, be sure to checkmark Transcribe Voicemails down toward the bottom. This will be required if you want to read your voicemails in text messages and email alerts.

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  • To check your voicemail the old-fashioned way, simply dial your Google Voice number from your phone, and you’ll be directly connected to your voicemail inbox. You can learn more about accessing your Google Voice voicemail here.

The Google Voice Mobile App

The mobile app isn’t required, but it makes it easier to manage your voicemail while on the go. Otherwise, you have to log into in your mobile web browser to manage it all. The app also has a few settings that you’ll get if you want them, including Do Not Disturb and Click2Call, which is a feature that will have Google first call your phone and then connect your call, but this is only if you’re using your Google Voice number to call someone.



  1. Rob Hanson

    11/25/2013 at 10:22 am

    But Google Voice has been shutdown by Google.

    • Talyrius

      11/29/2015 at 4:23 am

      No, it hasn’t.

  2. Eric Walker

    12/03/2013 at 6:31 pm

    Yes, GV is gone… here are my suggestions for voicemail to text: For automated service, try Nexiwave. For human edited, there is Youmail. I’ve tried both and settled with Nexiwave, since I really don’t like youmail uses human to type my voicemail. Of course, Nexiwave’s free plan helps a lot too;) To my experience, Nexiwave is amazingly accurate. I haven’t had the need to actually listen to my voicemail for quite a while now. Big timesaver.

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