Once you have your Google Voice account set up, complete with your very own Google Voice number, you can start to actually use the service! This tutorial will go over some of the basic ways that you can use Google Voice to keep in touch with the people who matter to you. We'll cover:
Head to www.google.com/voice in your favourite web browser. You will be prompted to log into your Google account; do so.
Click the Calls tab (the phone icon) to bring up your call history. At the top of your call history, click Make a Call.
The call details window will change to allow you to search for a person or number to call. In the box labelled "To," type in a phone number or the name of one of your contacts. A drop-down menu will appear as you type, allowing you to select the person or number you want to call. Once you click one of these suggestions, click Call at the bottom of the window.
(HINT: If you locked in the wrong number or contact by mistake, you can click on it and then click the "X" next to it to remove it. Then you can enter a different number or contact.)
A box will pop up asking you to select a phone to patch the call through. Click the drop-down menu labelled "Phone to Call With" and select one of the phones you've linked to Google Voice, or else Hangouts.
If you select a linked phone, Google will call that phone. When you answer the call, you will be patched through to the person or number you wished to call.
If you select Hangouts, you will be transferred to Google Hangouts and your call will be placed through your computer's Internet connection.
When you've made your selection, click Connect to place the call.
There are three primary situations in which you will need to pay international calling rates when using Google Voice:
In all of these situations, you cannot place a call through Google Voice unless you already have calling credit on your account. To learn how to add credit to your Google Voice account, see our lesson on the costs of Google Voice.
There are some advanced things you can do when calling through Google Voice, such as record the call, switch which phone you receive the call on, or start a conference call. To use any of these functions, though, you have to first enable them. To do that:
Now you can use additional features when you receive calls to your Google Voice number.
Use your web browser of choice to navigate to www.google.com/voice and log into your account.
Click the Text Messages tab (the speech bubble) in the left-hand pane to bring up your history of text messages on Google Voice.
If you want to start a completely new conversation, click Send a Message at the top of your message history. Then you can click in the box labelled "To" and type in a phone number or the name of one of your contacts. As you type, a drop-down menu will appear that will allow you to select the contact or number you want to call. Click one of the options to add it to your list of recipients.
(Image source: Digital Trends – Justin Pot)
Unlike with calls, you can click in the "To" box again and type in another contact or number that you want to send the text message to; you can do this up to 30 times! And, of course, if you decide that you don't want to send a text message to someone after all, just click on their name or number and then click the "X" next to it to remove it.
If you want to reply to a text that someone has already sent you, or otherwise continue a conversation you were having with someone, just click on the sender in your text message history.
(Image source: Digital Trends – Justin Pot)
Once you've determined the recipient(s) of your text message, you'll need to actually compose the message and send it off.
(Image source: GetVoIP – Matt Grech)
Click in the box labelled "Type a Message" at the bottom of the page and type in what you want to say for your text message. You can also click the Image Select button (the little mountains) on the left-hand side to search for and add a picture to your text; note that images that have a memory size over 2 megabytes will be compressed, and .GIF files with a memory size over 2 megabytes won't upload at all.
When you're ready to send your message, click the Send button (the paper airplane).
Google Voice has a voicemail system that will handle missed incoming calls to your Google Voice number. You can also set the phones you've linked to Google Voice to record voicemails to Google Voice, or switch back to their standard voicemail systems instead. Check out our tutorial here if you want to learn how to do those two things.
Anyway, once you have a few voicemails in Google Voice, here's how to review them:
Open your preferred web browser and go to www.google.com/voice. Log into your account there.
Click the Voicemail tab (the reel-to-reel tape) on the left-hand side of the page to see the history of voicemail messages you've received.
Voicemails that you haven't opened yet will be displayed in bold. To open a voicemail, just click it.
(Image source: Language Lab Unleashed – Barbara Sawhill)
You will now be able to see a transcript of what was said in the voicemail. If you want to hear what was actually in the voicemail, click the Play button (i.e. the triangle). You may also have other options, such as raising or lowering the voicemail's volume, or calling the number it's from with a single click.
(Image source: Greenbot – Derek Walter)
There are a couple of other features of Google Voice that we haven't covered yet, but feel may still be useful to you. One is enabling (or disabling) "Do Not Disturb" mode. This will cause all incoming calls to your Google Voice number to go right to voicemail, as well as all incoming text messages to stay in Google Voice and not be forwarded to your linked phones.
Another is deleting call information, text message conversations, or voicemails that you may no longer need. And one more is downloading the Google Voice mobile app so you can manage your Google Voice account while on the go.
Those are some of the basics of how to communicate with Google Voice! Next, we'll cover a few advanced functions, such as how to block users, or how to change or enable/disable your voicemail. So be sure to check out the rest of our Google Voice course to learn everything you need to know about it!
TechBoomers offers free articles that teach people how to use technology to make their lives easier (and more fun!). To support our work, some of our content contains links to websites that pay us affiliate commissions when our users visit them through us and make purchases. Learn more about how this works.
Learn how to use
Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!