How do I deactivate voicemail?

What is Voicemail?

Voicemail is an automated telephone answering service that allows callers to leave a voice message for the intended recipient if they are unable to answer the phone. Voicemail was first introduced commercially in the 1980s and became widely adopted in the 1990s.

Voicemail works by automatically answering an incoming call when the phone line is busy or goes unanswered after a certain number of rings. The caller is then typically greeted by a prerecorded voice message asking them to leave their name, callback number, and a brief message. This audio recording is stored digitally on the voicemail system until the recipient accesses their inbox and listens to it.

Some of the key pros of having voicemail include:

  • Allowing callers to leave messages when you can’t answer
  • Providing a record of incoming calls and messages
  • Optional features like greetings and call screening

Some potential cons include:

  • Missing urgent calls if the inbox isn’t regularly checked
  • Needing to listen through long/irrelevant messages
  • Audio-only nature makes some preferred info hard to convey

Overall, voicemail remains a standard feature on most phone services despite the prevalence of texting and email. It provides a way for others to reach you even when a live call isn’t possible.

Why You May Want to Deactivate Voicemail

Voicemail usage has been declining over the past decade. According to Vonage, voicemail usage dropped by 8% at the start of this decade. There are a few key reasons why people are moving away from using voicemail:

Prefer texting/email: Many people prefer the real-time communication of texting and email over leaving voicemails. With texting you can have a back and forth conversation instantly. Email allows you to send longer, detailed messages. Both provide confirmation when the other person has received your message.

Miss important calls going to voicemail: If you don’t have your phone on you or can’t answer, calls go to voicemail. This means you could miss something urgent or time sensitive. Some people feel voicemail makes them less reachable.

Voicemail feels outdated: For digital native generations, voicemail can feel outdated compared to instant messaging apps. The extra steps of checking voicemails and calling someone back feels inconvenient compared to texting.

How to Deactivate Voicemail on iPhone

To turn off voicemail on an iPhone, follow these steps:

1. Open the Phone app on your iPhone.

2. Tap on the Voicemail tab at the bottom of the screen.

3. Tap on the toggle next to “Voicemail” to switch it to the off position.

This will disable your voicemail on the iPhone. You will no longer receive voice messages when callers are sent to voicemail. According to GS Stat Counter, Apple has 29% of the worldwide smartphone market share as of August 2023, so disabling voicemail on an iPhone will impact a significant number of users.

Deactivating Voicemail on Android

To deactivate voicemail on an Android smartphone or tablet, follow these simple steps:

First open the Phone app, which is usually one of the default apps on the home screen or app drawer. Once in the Phone app, press the Menu button, which is usually represented by three vertical dots in the top right corner.

In the menu that pops up, select Settings. This will open the app settings for the Phone app.

Under settings, find the option for Voicemail. Uncheck or toggle off this option to disable voicemail on your Android device.

Once voicemail is deactivated, any incoming calls that go unanswered will no longer be forwarded to voicemail. Instead, they will continue ringing until the caller hangs up.

To re-enable voicemail on your Android device, simply go back to the Phone app settings and check or toggle on the Voicemail option.

Deactivating Voicemail on Landlines

To deactivate voicemail on a traditional landline phone, you will need to contact your phone service provider directly and request them to disable the voicemail feature. The steps usually involve:

1. Calling your landline phone service provider’s customer support number. This may be a local or national number depending on your provider.

2. Speaking to a customer service representative and requesting them to deactivate your voicemail service.

For example, you may say “Hi, I would like to disable the voicemail service on my landline number.”

3. The representative will then process your request after verifying your account details. They may confirm back the change to disable voicemail.

4. In most cases, the change takes effect immediately or within 24 hours.

5. You can test by calling your landline and allowing it to ring instead of going to voicemail. If it continues ringing, voicemail has been successfully disabled.

If you ever want to reactivate voicemail on your landline, simply contact your phone provider again and request them to switch it back on. The process is quick and easy whether you want voicemail enabled or disabled.


What Happens When Voicemail is Off

When your voicemail is disabled, callers will hear the phone ring continuously with no option to leave a voicemail message. The ringing will continue until the caller hangs up or the maximum ring time is reached, which usually ranges from 30-60 seconds on most carriers [1]. Unlike when voicemail is enabled, there will be no automated message asking the caller to leave a voicemail. The call will simply end with no notification or record of the attempted call.

Some key things to note when voicemail is deactivated:

  • No voicemail greeting will play
  • Callers cannot leave a voicemail message
  • You will not receive any missed call notifications
  • There will be no voicemail icon or number badge showing on your phone

In summary, with voicemail disabled your callers will only hear ringing on your end. Once they hang up or the max ring time passes, the call ends immediately with no other options.

Considerations Before Deactivating

Before deciding to deactivate your voicemail, it’s important to consider some potential downsides:

Missing Important Messages
One of the biggest risks of turning off voicemail is missing important calls and messages. While you may find voicemails annoying, they do serve an important purpose – allowing callers to leave you a message when you can’t answer the phone. Without voicemail enabled, you could miss calls about job interviews, doctor appointments, school closings, or other time-sensitive information if you don’t answer the phone.

According to a LinkedIn article, 35% of professionals say they have missed an important business opportunity because they didn’t check their voicemail. It’s important to weigh the risk of missing key calls if you choose to deactivate voicemail.

Callers Expect Voicemail as Backup
Most callers expect that if you don’t answer, they can leave a voicemail. Having your voicemail suddenly deactivated or disabled can be frustrating or concerning to regular contacts trying to reach you. They may think your phone is disconnected or out of service.

According to a Reddit thread, many users feel that completely disabling voicemail is impractical since people expect to reach a voicemail system as a backup option.

Alternatives to Voicemail

There are several alternatives to using traditional voicemail that allow you to still receive messages when you miss a call. Here are some top options:


Many people today prefer texting over calling. Setting up texting as an alternative to voicemail allows callers to leave a written message rather than a voice recording when you don’t answer. Most mobile phones and phone services like Google Voice support receiving text messages.


Another alternative is having callers leave you an email message if you don’t pick up. Services like Voxist allow redirecting calls to voicemail to instead send an email with a recording attached. This allows accessing messages through email which some may find more convenient than dialing into voicemail.

Answering Service

A 24/7 live answering service is a popular alternative for business owners. It ensures calls are always answered by a real person. The answering service can screen calls, take messages, schedule appointments, and more based on your needs. This provides excellent customer service when you can’t pick up the phone.

Reactivating Voicemail

If you change your mind and want to start using voicemail again after deactivating it, the process to reactivate it is straightforward. Simply follow the same steps you took to deactivate voicemail, but in reverse:

– On an iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Voicemail and toggle Voicemail on again.1

– On Android phones, open the Phone app, go to Settings or Call Settings, and turn Voicemail back on.2

– For landlines, contact your phone provider and request that voicemail be reactivated on your account.

Once reactivated, your voicemail number will function again and callers will be able to leave messages. If you had saved any old voicemail messages, these will still be there when you reactivate the service.

Key Takeaways

In summary, voicemail is an optional phone feature that can be disabled if desired. The main methods for deactivating voicemail include calling your wireless carrier for cell phones, adjusting your phone settings for smartphones, and contacting your landline provider.

Before disabling voicemail, consider the pros and cons. Voicemail can be useful for screening calls and accessing messages when you miss calls. However, it also takes up storage space and may not be necessary for some users.

If you decide to turn off voicemail, you can likely reactivate it in the future if needed. Just be aware that any existing voicemail messages will be deleted when disabling the service.

The key points to remember are:

  • Voicemail can be disabled on both mobile devices and landlines.
  • Consider the advantages and disadvantages before turning off voicemail.

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