Google Voice is a free service that can supercharge your current phone. It gives you a free phone number that can ring you anywhere, free voicemail, free text messages, and can transcribe your voicemail.
There are Google Voice apps for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry phones. There are also web-based versions for Palm WebOS, Nokia S60, and Windows phones.
Are you interested in making the switch or at least trying it out? We will show you how to get started and some its best features.
Getting started with Google Voice
Step 1. Sign up for a free account
Go to www.google.com/voice and sign up for a free account. Sign in with your Google username or create one if you don’t already have one.
Step 2. Choose a phone number.
You will be able to choose a local phone number from a set a available numbers.
You can search for a number by area code, word, phrase, or number. This way you might be able to get a vanity number.
Step 3. Create a new PIN.
Create a 4 digit password for your account.
Step 4. Add a forwarding number.
Enter the phone number you want your GV number to forward to and press “call me now”. Google will call you. Answer the phone and enter the verification code.
That is it! You Google Voice number is ready to be used.
When you make a phone call from GV, the caller will see your Google Voice number as the caller ID. When someone calls your GV number, it will be automatically forwarded to your forwarding number.
Now you have a Google Voice Number. Now What?
Head over to Settings –> Voice Settings to view all of the options.
At this point, any calls to your GV number will be forwarded to your forwarding number. Here are a few of the great features you can enable.
Add more forwarding numbers.
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Phones tab –> Click “Add another phone”.
You can forward your GV calls to up to six numbers so you never miss a call.
Setup Office Hours
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Phones tab –> Click “edit” under one of your forwarding numbers –> Click “Show advanced settings”.
Do Not Disturb
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Calls tab
You can enable Do Not Disturb if you want to send all of your calls straight to voicemail. This could be handy if you are in a meeting, on a date, or at church.
Add a call widget to you website or blog
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Call Widgets tab
Call Widgets can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, we call them and connect them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them.
Let Google Voice handle your voicemail.
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Calls tab –> Select “Activate Google voicemail on this phone”.
You can switch your phone’s voicemail to Google voicemail for any of your phones. This way you can take advantage of the voicemail transcripts, have voicemail emailed, and be able to archive and search through any of your voicemails.
Enable free phone calls on your desktop.
Settings –> Voice Settings –> Call Widgets tab –> Select “Google Chat” as one of your forwarding numbers.
See our guide on how to make and receive phone calls on your desktop with Google Voice.
To take full advantage of Google Voice you will need to start giving out your Google Voice number as your main business or contact number.
Send and receive free text messages.
Text messages from Google Voice are free (well, they use your data plan but basically free). So now you don’t need pay $20 a month for unlimited text messages.
Make free inbound and outbound phone calls.
You can make free phone calls on your iPhone with the iPhone app Talkatone or with the Click2Call feature.
Google has some great tutorials on Google Voice features:
- Read transcriptions of voicemails. Watch a video »
- Customize which phones ring. Watch a video »
- Personalize greetings for different callers. Watch a video »
- Make cheap international calls. Watch a video »
- Forward SMS to email. Watch a video »
- Share voicemails with friends. Watch a video »
- Block unwanted callers. Watch a video »
- Screen callers before answering. Watch a video »
- Access the mobile app on your phone. Watch a video »
- Conference call with co-workers. Watch a video »
Google Voice is not perfect. The transcripts are not always accurate and you can’t send picture text messages. However, once everything is up and running, you’ll likely have a hard time distinguishing between Google Voice calls and regular calls in terms of voice quality. Your callers won’t know that they are calling a Google Voice number.
I have been using Google Voice as my main business line for almost a year now and love it. I have been able to reduce my company phone bill significantly and love the free text messages.
Do you use Google Voice or would consider using it as you business line?
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