Get a Google Voice Account
What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is yet another free (for now, that is) Google product that is amazing. International calls and texting may cost Google Credits. Be aware. Here are the basics.
Get a Number
You go to Google Voice and sign up for the service. (If you’re in the US.) You get to pick your phone number from a list of available phone numbers. You can do a nice search and such – get your name or your birthdate in your phone number. Get your area code or a different area code. Try to get a local number if there is one. There was not a local Lexington number available for me.
Forward to Your Phones
When you sign up for the service, you will have to select one phone that your Google Voice account will be associated with. This can be a work, home, or mobile phone. A tip – if you’re going to use your carrier’s text messaging service and want to forward SMS messages from your Google Voice to your phone’s SMS, set it up as a mobile phone. And that mobile phone can only be associated with one Google Voice account. If your going to make an effort NOT to use your carrier (like AT&T) for your text messages, then list your mobile phone as a home phone.
Again, you must be near your phone when you add a phone because Google will put a code on the screen and call the phone. You will have to type in the code to verify that you have access to that phone. So to add your work phone, you’ll have to be at work.
You can add additional phones by going to Settings > Voice Settings
Then on the Phone tab, add more phones as necessary. Note that you can get online and check/uncheck the phones at any time. for example, let’s say you drop your phone in a huge puddle and it’s out of commission for a few days until it tries out or gets replaced. You can take your spouse’s or your kid’s phone for a few days and nobody that calls you will know. Just add their number and uncheck yours temporarily. Or if you’re going to be at your mom’s house out in the country with no service, call her up and say, “Mom, you’re going to get a call from Google in a minute. When you’re prompted, enter 36. I’ll call you back right after and explain.” Then her phone will be connected. When you’re heading by that last area with 3G service, hop online and forward all your calls to her house. Anybody calling your Google Voice number will just ring her house. You can even turn on the prompt so that you’ll know the call is for you and not her when you answer. It will say “Call from Google Voice, Press 1 to answer. Press 2 to send to voice mail where you can listen and choose to pick up at any time…” Here’s what the Phone Tab looks like:
Advanced Phone Settings
If you hit the Edit Button under one of the phones you will see the following screen:
This is where you can change some things about the phone. You can change the name of the phone as it appears in Google Voice. This is where you change it to Mobile, Home, Work, etc. If the phone is set as a Mobile phone, you have the option to receive text messages on this phone. Under the Advanced Settings, you can set up your voicemail access and ring schedule. The ring schedule is nice. I use a custom schedule so the home phone won’t ring during workdays and the work phone won’t ring on nights and weekends.
I recommend that you look through the other settings. Make some decisions about how you want to handle things. Some of my recommendations are:
- Get SMS or emails of your texts and voicemails. The transcribed versions of the voicemails are fun.
- Call Screening is useful if you’re forwarding to a shared phone or want to know when a call is coming from Google Voice. For example if Google Voice is your business number and is being forwarded to your mobile, you can screen to know the difference. If Google Voice is your main number, don’t use it. It’s annoying.
- Display your number for outgoing and the caller’s number for incoming calls and texts.
- Groups can be very useful. It’s handy to allow your wife to be able to call during work time but not your friends or other people. Or your family to call during the night for emergencies but your buddies can’t bother you at 2am.
- I strongly recommend that you use Google for your everything – email, contacts, calendar. Google is taking over the world because they have great, free products that integrate together very well. You really need your email and contacts to play with Google Voice.
If you have an iPhone, make sure you check out [cref iphone-and-google-voice-sms].
Google Voice is an excellent tool for your small business. Using GV as your business number means that you can be reached at any number, even if you have no mobile phone service. Set up GV to ring your hotel room, your parent’s house in a rural area, your office phone, or your mobile phone. You can even make calls from any phone and appear to call from your GV number.