You likely have one phone number for your mobile phone through which you make and get phone calls, send and receive text messages, and handle other related tasks. But sometimes you could use a second number for personal and professional phone calls and text messages. Or perhaps you’d like a different number to use when you set up accounts at websites.
A variety of options are available for snagging a second phone number, some free and some paid. But one option worth trying is Google Voice.
With the Google Voice VoIP service, you’re assigned a dedicated phone number that can use the same area code as your existing phone number or general location. Any phone calls made to your Google Voice number are forwarded to your regular number for you to answer directly.
Unanswered calls go to voicemail, where Google provides voice and text transcriptions for you to read and listen to the messages. Plus, you can use that second number for phone calls and text messages not just on your phone but on the Google Voice website.
On the upside, Google Voice and all of its features are freely available for personal use. On the downside, the personal service currently is accessible only in the US for individuals. However, Google Voice is available for business and educational users with paid Google Workspace accounts in the US and other select regions around the world.
To take advantage of Google Voice, you need a Google account and an existing phone number. Now let’s check out the steps for using this option as a second phone number.
Set Up Google Voice
To set up your number on a PC, browse to the Google Voice web page(Opens in a new window) and sign in with your Google account. You can use any of the major browsers, such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Safari. The page asks you to look for a number by entering your city or area code. You can choose any city or area code, but you’ll likely want to pick one in or close to your location, especially if you plan to give the number to friends, colleagues, and other people.
Type an area code or city to see available numbers. Click the link for Show more if you want to view additional numbers. Then click the Select button for the phone number you wish to use.
You now need to verify your existing phone number. Click the Verify button at the next screen. Type your phone number and then click the Send code button.
Type the code you receive and click the Verify button. You’re told that your number has been linked to your account. Click Finish and then click Finish again.
Use Google Voice on the Web
You can now use your Google Voice number on the web as well as on your mobile phone. Let’s try the website first. Your Google Voice page displays a toolbar with icons for calls, messages, and voicemail. Click the icon for voicemail to read a message from Google Voice welcoming you to the service. Click the play button to hear the message read aloud.
To make a phone call from the website, click the appropriate numbers on the dialpad to place the call. If you maintain an address book in Google, you can start typing the name of a contact and select that person to call them. Either way, your Google Voice number will show up in the Caller ID of the other person to keep your regular phone number from being revealed. During the call, you can mute your audio, place the call on hold, and access the keypad if you need to punch in numbers to respond to a call menu. When done, just click the phone icon to hang up.
If you receive a call at your Google Voice number, you can answer it at the website, though keep it mind that it will be forwarded to your mobile phone as well. Click the green phone icon to answer the call. The caller is asked to give their name, which Google announces to you. If you wish to accept the call, open the keypad and click 1. To send the caller to your voicemail, click 2. Otherwise, hang up.
Next, you can review any voicemails. Click the Voicemail icon on the left. Select a specific voicemail. The text transcription should automatically appear, though you may need to wait a few minutes to see the text for a new voicemail. Click the Play button to listen to the message.
To send a text message from the website, click the Messages icon. Click the option for Send new message. Scroll down the list of contacts to select the person you wish to text or type the number or name of the person. Type your text at the bottom and send it. Any texts you receive will appear at the messages screen as well.
You can manage your phone calls, text messages, and voicemail at the website. To do this, select a specific call, text, or voicemail. Depending on the item, click the Call or Message icon in the upper right to respond to the caller by phone or text.
Click the three-dot icon to display a menu with different options. Select People to add the person to your address book. Select Archive to send the item to the Archive folder. Select Mark as spam if the call is spam. Select Block number to reject future calls or texts from that number. For voicemail, select Download to save the message as an MP3 file. Select Delete to remove it.
At the website, you can also review and tweak the settings for Google Voice. Click the Audio settings icon in the upper right to adjust your microphone, tone, and speakers.
Click the Settings icon in the upper right. At the Settings screen, you can delete, unlock, or transfer your Google Voice number. You can also change certain settings for your phone calls and voicemails, check any payment history, and turn on security to filter spam calls and messages.
Use Google Voice on Your Mobile Phone
If you’re sitting in front of your computer with your Google Voice website open in your browser, then using the web page to handle calls and text messages is certainly feasible. Otherwise, you’ll want to install and set up the free Google Voice app on your mobile phone.
Download the app for iOS(Opens in a new window) or Android(Opens in a new window). The Google Voice app looks and works the same on both platforms. Before you start making and receiving calls, you should determine whether you want to use your mobile and Wi-Fi data or your carrier(Opens in a new window) for calls. In the Google Voice app, click the hamburger icon. Go to Settings > Calls > Make and receive calls.
The first option for Prefer Wi-Fi and mobile data lets you place a call over the internet as you’d do with any VoIP service, however, this will use a small amount of data from your mobile plan for each call. The second option for Use carrier only uses your mobile carrier to place the call but may result in a charge if don’t have unlimited minutes. If you have a good Wi-Fi connection and limited minutes, go with the first option. Otherwise, choose the second option.
To make a call, tap the Calls icon at the bottom and select the dialpad icon. From there, select the person’s name from the suggestions or type the phone number to call. Alternatively, tap the Contacts icon at the bottom, select the person you wish to call, and tap the phone number.
An incoming call to your Google Voice number will ring your mobile phone. The process is the same as on the website. The caller is asked to provide their name, which is announced to you. On the dialpad, tap 1 to answer the call or 2 to direct it to voicemail. Tap the Voicemail icon at the bottom to access your messages. The transcription displays the text. Press play to listen to the message.
To send a text message, tap the Messages icon at the bottom and then tap the pencil icon, or tap the contacts icon, select the contact you want to text, and then tap the text icon. Type your text and send it. Any texts you receive will appear in the same location.
Finally, to tweak the settings for Google Voice in the mobile app, go to Settings and you’ll find options for messages, calls, voicemail, payments, and security.
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