How to Use Google Voice

Last updated: September 1, 2017 - 12:05pm EDT

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:

  • How to call someone
  • How to enable or disable advanced inbound call functions
  • How to record a call
  • How to switch phones during a call
  • How to start a conference call
  • How to send or reply to a text message
  • How to check your voicemail
  • What "Do Not Disturb" mode is, and how to enable or disable it
  • How to delete a call notification, text message conversation, or voicemail
  • How to download the Google Voice mobile app

How to make a call with Google Voice

1. Access your Google Voice account.

Head to www.google.com/voice in your favourite web browser. You will be prompted to log into your Google account; do so.

2.Open the "Calls" folder and click "Make a Call" at the top of your call history.

Click the Calls tab (the phone icon) to bring up your call history. At the top of your call history, click Make a Call.

Make a call with Google Voice

3. Choose the number or contact you want to call, and then click "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.

Select recipient of call

(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.)

4. Select how you want Google Voice to patch your call through to its recipient, and then place the call.

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.

Choose phone to use

When you've made your selection, click Connect to place the call.

A note on international calling with Google Voice

There are three primary situations in which you will need to pay international calling rates when using Google Voice:

  1. When you call certain remote areas in the United States or Canada
  2. When you call a number belonging to a country other than the United States or Canada
  3. When you place a call while in a country outside the United States or Canada

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.

Advanced Google Voice calling functions

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:

  1. Log into your Google Voice account at www.google.com/voice.
     
  2. Click the Main Menu button (the three bars) in the top-left corner of the page.

    Google Voice main menu
     
  3. Click Settings.

    Google Voice settings menu
     
  4. Click the Calls category, and then click the toggle switch beside "Incoming Call Options" to turn it to the "on" position (as shown below).

    Incoming call options

Now you can use additional features when you receive calls to your Google Voice number.

To record a call:

  1. After you've answered a call through your Google Voice number, press the "4" key on your phone. The other caller(s) will hear a notification that you've started recording the call.
     
  2. To stop the recording, press the "4" key again. The other caller(s) will be notified that you've stopped recording. The recording will also stop if you hang up on the call.
     
  3. You can review your call recordings by checking your Google Voice voicemail (more on that later).

To switch the phone you're having the call on:

  1. Once you answer a call through your Google Voice number, press the "*" ("star") key.
     
  2. Google Voice will call all of the other phone numbers that you've linked to your account. Simply answer the call on the new phone that you want to use.

To start a conference call:

  1. Answer a call through your Google Voice number.
     
  2. If you receive another call through your Google Voice number while one is already in progress, you will be notified and asked if you want to start a conference call. To do so, press the "5" key.

How to text with Google Voice

1. Sign into your Google Voice account.

Use your web browser of choice to navigate to www.google.com/voice and log into your account.

2. Go to your text message history.

Click the Text Messages tab (the speech bubble) in the left-hand pane to bring up your history of text messages on Google Voice.

Google Voice text messages

3. To start a new conversation, click "Send a Message" and then select the recipients.

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.

New text message
(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.

4. To continue a conversation, click a name or number in your message history.

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.

Reply to text message
(Image source: Digital Trends ­– Justin Pot)

5. Compose your message, adding a picture if desired, and then send it.

Once you've determined the recipient(s) of your text message, you'll need to actually compose the message and send it off.

Compose and send text messages
(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).

How to check voicemail with Google Voice

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:

1. Visit the Google Voice website and log into your Google account.

Open your preferred web browser and go to www.google.com/voice. Log into your account there.

2. View your Google Voice voicemail history.

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.

Voicemail menu

3. Open the voicemail that you want to read or listen to.

Voicemails that you haven't opened yet will be displayed in bold. To open a voicemail, just click it.

Voicemail history
(Image source: Language Lab Unleashed – Barbara Sawhill)

4. Read the voicemail's transcription, press the "Play" button to play it back, or choose other available options.

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.

Play voicemails
(Image source: Greenbot – Derek Walter)

Other Google Voice functions

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.

To enable or disable Google Voice's "Do Not Disturb" mode:

  1. Go to www.google.com/voice in your web browser and log into your Google account.
     
  2. Click Main Menu (i.e. the three bars) at the top-left corner of Google Voice's main interface.

    Main menu for Google Voice
     
  3. Click Settings.

    Settings menu
     
  4. Click Phone Numbers, and then click the toggle button beside "Do Not Disturb" to turn it on.

    Do Not Disturb function

To delete a text message conversation, call's information, or voicemail:

  1. Log into your Google Voice account at www.google.com/voice.
     
  2. Click on the Messages, Calls, or Voicemails tab to open the folder containing the communication you want to delete.

    Calls, Voicemail, Messages buttons
     
  3. Click on the communication that you want to delete, and then click the More Options button (the three dots) in the top-left corner of the information window.

    More Options button
    (Image source: Amir Ali Tayyab)
     
  4. Finally, choose Delete from the drop-down menu.

    Delete button
    (Image source: Amir Ali Tayyab)

To download and install the Google Voice mobile app:

  1. Turn on your mobile phone and look for the Play Store (App Store on iOS devices) app; you should be able to find it on your main screen. Tap it to get it running.

    Google Play Store icon
     
  2. Once you're inside the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, you should see a search bar at the top of the screen (or in the top-right corner, on iOS devices). Tap inside it and use your device's (virtual) keyboard to type in "google voice," and then tap that suggestion from the drop-down menu that appears.

    Search for Google Voice app

    When your search results appear, find the app called "Google Voice" and tap it to select it.
     
  3. Once you're on the information screen for the Google Voice app, tap Install (or, on iOS devices, Get and then Install) to download and install the program.

    Download Google Voice in app store

    (NOTE #1: You may be asked to log into your Google or Apple account to continue.  Do so if you have to, but it's okay if you back out of or skip this screen.  Google Voice is free to use!)

    (NOTE #2: You may be notified of the functions on your device that Google Voice may need to use. If you are okay with it doing so, then tap Accept.)
     
  4. After Google Voice downloads and installs on your device, tap Open on the app information screen to launch it. Thereafter, you can simply tap the app icon on your device's main interface to get it started.

    Launch Google Voice app

 

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!

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