- Google Voice is a free and easy-to-use online service designed to consolidate several phones.
- A single Google Voice number will ring through to all of your different devices and potentially allow you to switch carriers without having to change numbers every time.
- The internet telephone service is easy to set up and use on any device. Here’s how to do it.
Launched by Google a decade ago, Google Voice (which used to be called GrandCentral before Google acquired the company in 2007) has achieved longevity as a service but still remains rather misunderstood.
It’s pretty much just an internet telephone service that allows you to combine all your other phone services. Let’s say, for instance, that you have a landline at home (almost half of Americans reportedly still do), as well as a business phone and your personal smartphone. Rather than bouncing between three different numbers and devices, you can give out one simple Google Voice number and when someone calls, all of them will ring.
The free service can forward your calls to several phones at a time. It does this by linking the PSTN (also called POTS, or the Plain Old Telephone Service) and the mobile network, enabling it to carry a landline call over to the internet via Google Voice, then over to your mobile or wherever its final destination may be.
For the user who simply has too many phones and numbers to manage, Google Voice is a great resource for merging multiple communication channels. It’s also good for regular travelers who are forced to bounce between carriers, changing phone numbers and paying a fortune for international calls, or for those users who are looking to record incoming calls for free.
Voice actually offers a relatively cheap rate for international calling (and free SMS), and retaining one handy number in any country means you won’t have to update your bank info every time you leave the country.
Here’s a step-by-step to get you started using Google Voice. Be aware that you’ll need a Google account first.
How to set up Google Voice on a computer
The simplest way to set up Voice is by going to the Google Voice website on a computer and clicking “Get Google Voice.” You’ll need to be signed into your Google account.
1. The page will then prompt you to select which device you’ll be using the service on (Android, iOS, or web). Click web.
2. Per usual, you’ll be asked to read and accept Google’s terms and conditions. Click continue.
3. Google will give you a phone number to match your region, so type in your city or area code and choose one from Google’s available selection.
4. You’ll then be prompted to verify your existing phone number, so click “Verify,” type in the number you want Google to forward your calls to and click “Send Code.”
5. Once you receive Google’s text or call, type it into the website and click “Verify.”
6. To confirm that this is the number you want your calls forwarded to, click “Claim.” You can add more numbers later.
7. It will prompt you to click “Finish” twice, then you’re done setting it up.
8. If you’d like to add more numbers, then find the “Linked numbers” section in your settings, under which you can click “New linked number.”
9. Repeat the process of entering in a phone number and Google will send a verification code via text or calling, which you will then enter into the website.
10. To see all your numbers, return to the settings page and locate the “Calls” tab on the left side of the page (pictured above). All the numbers you’ve added should be checkmarked.
How to set up Google Voice on a mobile device
1. Locate the Google Voice app in the App Store (or the equivalent store for non-Apple devices) and download it for free.
2. Once downloaded, open the app and sign into your Google account.
3. Accept the terms and conditions by clicking “Continue.”
4. Search for your area code or type in your city to pick out a new phone number, then tap “Select” once you’ve found one you want.
5. Follow the prompts to finish setting up and customize your settings by following the analogous steps from the computer section above.
Tips and tricks
- Google Voice itself is free, though you need working, paid phone numbers to use it.
- You can treat Google Voice just like your normal phone. Block numbers, send them to voicemail, and all kinds of fun filtering tricks to make your life easier, all found in the Settings menu.
- To make a call through Google Voice, simply go to “Calls” and type in the number.
- You’ll see “Messages” and “Voicemail” under that same drop-down menu, where you’ll see those respective notifications, too.
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