Can I forward cell phone calls to Google Voice?

What is Google Voice?

Google Voice is a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone and messaging service provided by Google. It offers users a free phone number that can make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and access voicemail.

Some key features of Google Voice include:

  • Free phone number – Users get a free phone number with a U.S. area code.
  • Voicemail – Google Voice provides free voicemail that can be accessed online or through the mobile app.
  • Call forwarding – Calls to the Google Voice number can be forwarded to any phone.
  • SMS messaging – Users can send and receive text messages using their Google Voice number.

In summary, Google Voice gives users a virtual phone number along with features like voicemail, call forwarding, and SMS messaging for free. It works as an online phone service through the user’s existing internet connection.


Linking Cell Phone to Google Voice

The first step to forwarding calls from your cell phone to Google Voice is linking your cell phone number to your Google Voice account. This allows Google Voice to recognize your cell number.

To add your cell number in the Google Voice app, go to Menu > Settings > Devices and select “New linked number”. Enter your cell phone number and Google will send a confirmation code via call or text to verify ownership. Once confirmed, your cell number will show up under Linked Numbers in your Google Voice account.

Now you can enable call forwarding to forward future incoming calls to your cell number onto Google Voice. Under “Linked Numbers”, toggle “Forward calls” to on. Verify the forwarding number shown is your Google Voice number. Once enabled, any calls to your cell number will be forwarded to Google Voice for further call management.

For detailed instructions, visit Google’s linking guide.

Forwarding Calls from Cell Phone

You can forward calls from your regular cell phone number to Google Voice to take advantage of Google Voice’s features like voicemail transcription, call screening, and more. There are a couple ways to enable call forwarding to Google Voice:

To forward all calls from your cell phone to Google Voice, first make sure your cell phone number is linked with your Google Voice account. Then, on your cell phone, enable call forwarding to your Google Voice number. The steps to do this vary by carrier – refer to your cell phone carrier’s support for exact steps.

Alternatively, you can selectively forward only certain calls from your cell phone to Google Voice using call forwarding rules. In the Google Voice app or website, go to Settings > Devices & Numbers > Link Numbers. Next to your cell number, click “Edit forwarding settings.” Here you can create rules to forward calls based on criteria like time of day, caller ID, and more. For example, you may forward calls outside of business hours to Google Voice voicemail.

One thing to note with call forwarding is it may impact your cell plan minutes, so check with your carrier. Also, call quality may decrease compared to directly using your cell service. But overall call forwarding provides flexibility to take advantage of Google Voice features.


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Receiving Forwarded Calls

When you forward calls from your cell phone to Google Voice, the calls will ring linked numbers that you have configured in your Google Voice settings. You can link multiple phones, so when someone calls your cell number that is forwarded, all of your linked numbers will ring simultaneously.

According to Google’s support site, you can customize voicemail greetings for each linked number. For example, you could have a personalized greeting for your home phone, and a more generic greeting for your work phone. Google Voice will transcribe voicemail messages and send you an email or SMS text with the transcription. This allows you to easily skim voicemails before listening to them.

Managing Multiple Lines

Google Voice allows you to link multiple phone numbers to your account, making it easy to juggle work and personal lines. You can set up selective call forwarding so that calls to your work number ring your office phone during business hours and personal cell phone after hours. Similarly, calls to your personal number can ring your cell phone during the day and home line in the evenings.

With Google Voice, you don’t necessarily need separate voicemail boxes for each number. You can manage one unified visual voicemail inbox through the Google Voice app and website. New messages display the number the caller dialed so you know whether it’s a work or personal call. You can also customize separate voicemail greetings for each number.

While Google Voice doesn’t support using multiple lines simultaneously on one device, it does provide helpful call management across multiple phones and numbers. With customizable call forwarding and visual voicemail, Google Voice can help simplify managing business and personal calls on the go. For more details, check out Google’s support article on adding numbers to your account (

International Calling

Google Voice offers competitive international calling rates to landlines and mobile phones in over 100 countries. According to Google’s Calling Rates page, calls to landlines in many European countries like Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, and Italy are just $0.02 per minute. Calls to mobiles are slightly higher at $0.10-0.15 per minute. Other popular destinations like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil are $0.02-0.09 per minute for landlines and $0.10-0.23 per minute for mobiles.

You can make outbound international calls directly from the Google Voice app on your mobile device or computer using your Google Voice number. When placing the call, you’ll hear a voice saying the call is being connected through Google, and you’ll also see a notification about the per-minute calling rate. One advantage of using Google Voice is you don’t have to purchase an international calling plan from your cell carrier.

In addition to making outbound international calls, Google Voice can also receive incoming calls from over 100 countries at local toll-free rates. This allows friends, family, and business contacts abroad to call you without paying international charges. The international caller simply dials your Google Voice number as if they were calling a US number.

Call Quality Considerations

The call quality when using Google Voice can vary depending on your cellular and WiFi networks. Some limitations exist since calls are routed through Google’s systems rather than directly to the mobile or landline network.

Call quality when using Google Voice relies on having a strong cellular or WiFi signal. Problems can occur such as static, echo, delays, or interruptions if using a spotty cellular connection or congested WiFi network. The call quality is ultimately dependent on the strength of the internet connection.

Some users have reported that Google Voice calls do not sound as crisp or clear as calls placed directly from their mobile number. The voice codec used can cause a slight degradation in quality.

If you experience issues with call quality using Google Voice, there are some troubleshooting steps to try:

  • Make sure you have a strong WiFi or cellular data connection
  • Try toggling WiFi on/off or cellular data on/off
  • Restart your phone
  • Update the Google Voice app
  • Check for firmware updates for your router if on WiFi

While Google Voice call quality may not match a direct native cellular call, for many the benefits offset the minor loss in quality. With some tweaking of networks, the call quality can be improved.

Visual Voicemail

One of the most useful features of Google Voice is visual voicemail, which lets you view and manage your voicemails visually instead of having to dial in and navigate clunky audio menus. With visual voicemail:

– You can see a list of your voicemails in the Google Voice app and tap to listen to any message. This makes scanning and prioritizing voicemails much easier.

– Voicemail transcriptions provide a text version of your voicemails so you can skim them quickly. While the automated transcription isn’t always perfect, it gives you the gist of the message.

– You can have voicemail notifications and transcriptions emailed to you as they come in, so you don’t need to open the app to stay on top of new messages.

To set up visual voicemail on your Android phone, you’ll need to call a special activation number provided by Google Voice using your mobile phone number. The full steps are outlined in this Gadget Hacks article.

Once activated, visual voicemail makes it much easier to stay on top of your Google Voice messages on the go.

Other Google Voice Features

Google Voice offers several useful features beyond just call forwarding and voicemail management. Three of the most popular features are text messaging, call screening, and call recording.

Google Voice provides free unlimited text messaging to any number in the US, Canada, and many other countries. You can send and receive SMS text messages through the Google Voice website or mobile apps [1]. This allows you to keep your cell number private when texting.

Call screening in Google Voice gives you the option to screen calls before answering. When someone calls your Google Voice number, you’ll see their name or number and can choose to answer, decline, or screen the call by sending it to voicemail and listening in [2]. This helps avoid unwanted calls.

Google Voice can also record incoming and outgoing calls. Simply press “4” during a call to start recording. Recordings are saved in your Google Voice account and transcripts are generated using speech recognition [3]. This can be useful for keeping records of important conversations.

Is Google Voice Right for You?

When deciding if Google Voice is the right option, it’s important to weigh the key pros and cons:


  • Free for personal use with cheap paid plans for business
  • Voicemail transcription and search
  • Call and text forwarding to multiple devices
  • International calling rates


  • No native SMS/MMS support
  • Call quality can be inconsistent
  • Limited integration with iPhone
  • Missing some features of full-fledged VoIP providers

Google Voice excels for those seeking a unified business line across devices and inexpensive international calling. However, limitations exist for SMS, call quality, and iPhone integration. Those wanting a fuller-featured VoIP system may prefer options like OpenPhone or RingCentral.

Use cases where Google Voice shines:

  • Sole proprietors and very small businesses on a budget
  • International callers needing cheap rates
  • Users wanting voicemail transcription
  • Those seeking a single business line across multiple phones

In summary, Google Voice offers unified calling and helpful features like voicemail transcription, but has some limitations versus dedicated VoIP solutions. It excels for international callers and lean small businesses on a budget.

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