Listening to voice messages left on your mobile phone can be expensive when you’re traveling internationally. This is because carriers require you to dial their messaging system (resulting international roaming charges) — or — if you’re an iPhone user — to download the message using your phone’s data connection (also expensive unless you’re using WiFi).
Instead of using the carrier’s voice messaging system on your mobile phone, switch to Google Voice, which allows you to store and retrieve your messages online, in one central place so you never have to worry about messages being deleted. Plus, the service will convert voicemails into text and send them to you by email or text message (SMS).
Google Voice is completely free and works with all of the major US mobile carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can also use this with a landline, as long as your provider allows you to forward unanswered calls to a different number.
Here’s how to set it up:
- First, create a Google Voice account. As part of this, select the I want to use my mobile number option.
- After completing the verification process, click Settings in the upper right corner, locate your mobile phone, and click Activate Google voicemail on this phone.
- Follow the instructions provided to enable voicemail forwarding on your mobile phone. For example, AT&T users will dial *004*xxx-xxx-xxxx# (where xxx-xxx-xxxx is your Google Voice phone number) and press Call.
- Lastly, click the Voicemail tab to record your outgoing greeting by using the buttons provided in the Voicemail Greeting section.
To have your messages transcribed to text sent to you by email and/or SMS:
- Click Settings in the upper right corner, then click the Voicemail tab.
- Under Voicemail Notifications, check Email the message to and select an email address where you’d like to receive your voicemail transcriptions.
- To send receive voicemail transcripts via SMS (text message), check Send a text (SMS) message to and selecting your mobile phone from the list provided.
- Finally, under Voicemail Transcripts, check Transcribe Voicemails and click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
Now that you’ve replaced your carrier’s voice messaging system with Google Voice, here’s how to retrieve your messages:
- Online through the Google Voice Website or the mobile optimized version of the site at m.google.com/voice.
- Through the Google Voice phone system by calling the Google Voicemail number provided with your account.
- By email, if you’ve enabled this option.
- Using the Google Voice iPhone app.
Don’t worry — you can disable voicemail forwarding to Google Voice at any time by logging into Google Voice, clicking Settings in the upper right corner, clicking Deactivate voicemail, and following the instructions provided.
Now that you have Google Voice fully setup and configured, you’ll no longer have to call in to retrieve your voice messages (saving you international roaming charges), and you’ll the flexiblity of listening to your messages using any computer or phone with internet access.
Thank you to HTT reader, Amy S., for inspiring this topic!