How do I set up a Google Voice account?

What is Google Voice?

Google Voice is a free calling service from Google that gives you a phone number for calling, texting, and voicemail. With Google Voice, you get the following features:

  • A free Google Voice phone number, separate from your other phone numbers
  • Free calling within the U.S. and Canada
  • Low cost international calling
  • Free voicemail and voicemail transcription
  • Text messaging
  • Call screening and blocking
  • Ability to make and receive calls on any internet connected device

As stated on Google’s support site (, Google Voice works over your existing internet connection to give you all these features through one number.

Why use Google Voice?

One of the main reasons to use Google Voice is that it allows you to make and receive calls over wifi instead of using your cellular minutes. Using wifi for calling helps you save money, especially for international calls or when traveling abroad. With Google Voice, you can access your messages and make calls using your Google Voice number on any device with a wifi or data connection.

Because Google Voice works over the internet rather than a traditional phone connection, you can also make and receive calls with better audio quality. Google Voice can intelligently screen calls, giving you the option to pick up, deny, or send the call to voicemail before answering. It also offers advanced voicemail and call management features to stay productive.

Requirements for Google Voice

Google Voice is an app and phone number that is linked to your existing Google account (source). To set up Google Voice, the main requirement is a Gmail account. This allows all of your Google Voice messages, texts, and other data to be accessed through your Gmail inbox.

You also need a phone number that can receive SMS or voice calls. This phone number is used to verify your account during setup and to forward inbound Google Voice calls. The number can be a mobile number or landline, and it must have calling capabilities in the US or Canada (source).

How to get a Google Voice number

Getting started with Google Voice requires signing up for an account using your existing Gmail address. Here are the steps to register for Google Voice:

  1. Go to and click “Get Started.”
  2. Log in with your Google or Gmail account credentials.
  3. Follow the prompts to accept Google Voice’s terms and conditions.
  4. Select a phone number from the list of available options. Numbers are categorized by area code and city according to your current location.
  5. Double check that the number is available and select “Pick number” to confirm.
  6. Enter a verification phone number to connect your Google Voice number to. This can be an existing number of yours. Once verified, your account setup is complete.

That’s it! After obtaining a number, the rest of the Google Voice features and settings will be available in your account dashboard.

Porting your existing number (optional)

You can port your existing cell phone number to Google Voice for a one-time $20 fee. This allows you to use your existing number rather than getting assigned a new Google Voice number. According to Google Support and How-To Geek, there are a few requirements and limitations to be aware of when porting a number to Google Voice:

  • You can only port mobile numbers, not landlines
  • There are limits on how many numbers you can port per account
  • Once a number is ported to Google Voice, you can’t port it to another carrier

The process of porting an existing number involves first requesting Google to port the number, which takes 5-7 business days. During this time, you’ll receive confirmation codes to verify you own the number. Once the port completes, you’ll receive confirmation from Google and can start using that number with Google Voice.

Setting up voicemail and greetings

Google Voice allows you to customize your voicemail greetings for different types of callers.

To set up a customized greeting, open the Google Voice app on your Android device and tap the Menu icon in the top left corner > Settings. In the Voicemail section, tap “Voicemail greeting” and then “Record a greeting”.

You can record multiple greetings, for example:

  • A default greeting for all callers
  • A greeting for when you can’t get to the phone
  • A greeting for when you’re busy or at lunch
  • A greeting for a specific contact or group of contacts

To set a greeting for specific contacts, tap “Voicemail greeting” in Settings again and select “Record personal greetings”. Then choose the contacts and record a custom greeting just for them.

According to Google’s support documentation, the greetings you record can be up to 3 minutes long. Tap “Save” when you finish recording a greeting.

Making calls with Google Voice

There are several ways to make calls using Google Voice depending on your device and location. You can call from:

  • The Google Voice mobile app (the UI experience has been simplified with the recently re-designed app)
  • The browser-based Google Voice interface – use the keypad on the left side or key in a number
  • The Google Voice Chrome Extension- helps streamline the process by enabling one-click calling
  • If integrated with your phone, simply dial the number normally and it will route via Google Voice

Call quality will depend on factors like connection speed and strength. According to recent Reddit discussions, some users have noticed inferior call quality compared to their regular numbers. However, improvements have been made over the years. On mobile, it is recommended to select your phone model under Settings to ensure optimized functionality.

Receiving Calls with Google Voice

When someone calls your Google Voice number, the call can ring multiple phones simultaneously or sequentially. This allows you to receive calls on your mobile, landline, work phone, or other linked numbers. Based on caller ID or contact groups, you can also customize call forwarding to send certain callers directly to different phones or even to voicemail.

To configure call forwarding, log in to your Google Voice account and navigate to Settings > Phones. From here, you can choose which linked phone numbers will ring in what order when receiving a call to your Google Voice number (source). This gives flexibility over where incoming calls will be directed.

Texting with Google Voice

One of the key features of Google Voice is the ability to send and receive text messages for free from your Google Voice phone number (1). To use text messaging with Google Voice:

  • You need a smartphone with data or Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Download the Google Voice app on Android or iOS.
  • Set up and verify your Google Voice number.
  • The app will then sync texts sent to your Google Voice number to your smartphone.

You can send texts for free to any U.S. number directly from the Google Voice app. Group messaging is available but limited to maximum 8 participants (1). Text messages also have length limits of 1600 characters.

Overall, Google Voice provides a convenient way to send texts for free from your Google Voice number on your smartphone. Just keep some limitations around group messaging and text lengths in mind.

Other Google Voice features

Google Voice offers several other useful features beyond just calling and texting:

Call screening

You can screen incoming calls and decide whether to answer, send to voicemail, or block without ever picking up. Google Voice will ask callers to state their name before connecting the call, so you can listen in and decide what you want to do (source).

Call blocking

Google Voice makes it easy to block unwanted calls. You can block specific numbers, enable spam call filtering, and block entire area codes if you receive a lot of unwanted calls from a certain region (source).

Call recording

With Google Voice, you can record any phone conversation, including cell calls. This can be useful for capturing important information during calls (source).

Voicemail transcription

One of the best Google Voice features is real-time voicemail transcription. You’ll get transcriptions of all voicemail messages instantly without needing to listen to any actual recordings. Transcriptions allow you to glance at messages and see if they need immediate attention.

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