By Cody Crawford
“Aunt Jean is calling me! Probably just wants to talk, but what if it’s important? I wish I could listen in on the voicemail before answering.”
“I put my phone number online, and now I get spam calls all the time. I wish I could block numbers.”
“I use my personal cell phone for business as well. I wish I could have separate voicemail greetings for the different people who call me.”
Sometimes I don’t want to answer my phone, even if one of my friends or relatives is calling. I have a very low tolerance for spam calls. And I really prefer that people who call me from work don’t hear “Yo, it’s Cody. Sing your song at the beep.” The solution to all of these problems is a wonderful thing called Google Voice.
I got Google Voice because I was tired of getting spam calls. Many websites, when you set up an account, require you to enter a phone number. This usually results in that number getting numerous marketing calls and texts, which get quite obnoxious. Before I used Google Voice, I got calls every day, and I had no idea which online account had sold my number to a spammer.
Anyone with a Google account can set up Google Voice for free. You must either choose a new number, or let your service provider know that you will be porting your number to Google Voice, then get a new number through your service provider and set that number up as a forwarding number. You must have phone service already to use Google Voice.
Your Google Voice number can ring all of your phones, or specific ones that you choose. Any phone can be set up as a forwarding number. This is how I use Google Voice to screen calls. When I must enter my phone number on a website to get an account or use a service, I enter my Google Voice number. If I start getting a lot of spam from a specific number, I can ask Google Voice to block that number. When I have blocked someone and they call my Google Voice number, they will hear, “This number has been disconnected or is not in service.”
You may also send a call straight to voicemail, then listen in on the voicemail and answer anytime. Different voicemail greetings can be set up for different contacts or Gmail groups. Text messages to your Google Voice number may optionally come in and be replied to by email. You can also send transcripts of voicemails by email to someone else. Conference calls can be set up by having everyone call your Google Voice number, and adding them to the conference as they call you.
If you have a Blackberry, Android or Apple phone, you can use the Google Voice app. The app allows you to make calls, listen to voicemails, read text messages, and much more. To make a call from Google Voice from a phone without the Google Voice app, simply go to the website and initiate a call from there. Google Voice will ring your phone, and when you answer, it will transfer you to the number you entered on the site. If you are not near a computer, simply dial your Google Voice number, and it will ask you what number you would like to dial.
To set up Google Voice with a new number, log in to your Gmail account. Go to www.google.com/voice and click “Get a Voice number.” It will ask if you want a new number, or if you would like to use your current number. Click “I want a new number.” When it prompts you to enter a forwarding number, enter your current phone number and specify whether it is Mobile, Work or Home. You may not use your number to set up more than one Google Voice account, and you may not use one Google Voice number to set up another.
After you have entered your forwarding number, Google will call your phone and have you enter a two-digit verification code to prove you have access to the phone. Then you can choose a phone number, in any area code or zip code. You can also look for a number that spells a specific word. Once you have chosen a number, click Finish. It’s that easy!
You might use Google Voice to screen calls. You could use Google Voice to have an extra number for your work or business. Google Voice can also be used to get cheaper international calling rates. There are many different ways to use Google Voice, so check it out online.
Cody Crawford holds a degree in Computer Engineering Technology from Middle Tennessee State University and is employed by a consumer electronics company in Nashville, TN.