Google Voice

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Google Voice is a free telephone number that you can direct to forward calls to any other telephone number. In addition, you can block calls, receive transcribed messages, and do numerous other activities. Google Voice will also dial and connect calls for you; however, the call will be connected to another telephone number, i.e. your cell phone or your land line, as you direct.

For a visual introduction you can go to this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOZU7BOeQ58

If this link does not work here are two things you can do: first, copy the link to the URL window of your browser, not the search window, the window with the web page address in it. And second, you can search Google (or any other search engine) for “Google Voice” and find a long list of assistance.

You may be able to get a Google Voice number that is within your area code, but in today’s world the area code of the number is not necessarily an indication of the location – witness mobile phones. Most of us have a mobile number from our home base, but if we move, most don’t change the number. And in my case, I have a mobile number from there, but have a Google Voice number from this 941 area code, and calls get routed to my cell phone!

To get a Google Voice number, sign into Google Voice (you do have a Google Account don’t you?) by going to the URL, www.google.com/voice.  If you don’t have a Google Account (some-name-you-choose.gmail.com), you can do it right there.

Once there, you can answer the questions and select your phone number from a list that will be presented.

Once you have your number, you’ll now have to set up certain parameters so that the number works for you as you desire.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to establish your settings. Click on the gear on the right side of the screen, and then click “Settings.” The first tab is “Phones.”

Since you already chose a number, you will see that number and “Chang/Port” and Delete and Transfer as available options. I do not recommend porting your mobile number as that will limit choices down the road. You will want a NEW GOOGLE VOICE NUMBER.

Then you will see a list of options for forwarding calls. I forward calls to my mobile number, but you can select other options which include forwarding calls to up to six (6) other numbers. You can “Add another phone” by clicking on that link.

The next tab, “Voicemail & Text” allows you to record a greeting, play your greeting, set up an email alert, forward texts, add a PIN and to turn on transcribing messages.

The “Calls” tab allows you to turn on Call Screening, and a number of other pretty self-explanatory options.

“Groups and Circles” tab allows you to establish actions by grouping. In order to use this feature, your address book has to be part of Google Contacts. That feature is beyond the scope of this article at this time, but I’ll make a follow up. For now, all incoming calls will be treated the same.

“Call Widgets” can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, we call them and connect them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them. This, too, is beyond the scope of this article.

“Billing” will allow you to set up Calling Credits. These can be used to make calls (outgoing) to other number, mostly in our case international numbers, at low rates. You can look up the rates for international calls.

And, “Account” is some simple setups, language, time zone passwords, etc.

On the left of the Google Voice page are two red boxes, “CALL” and “TEXT” that allow you to call another number using Google Voice. US numbers can be called for free and are connected to the phone you specify. For example, I can call someone from my Google Voice number and speak to them from my cell phone. I might do that because I do not want that person to see my real cell phone number. So, I click “CALL,” enter the number I wish to call and specify to connect the call to my cell phone. You may do the same for text messages by clicking the “TEXT” box and entering the mobile number and the message.

So, let’s summarize the advantages that Google Voice provides:

  1. A new phone number with lots of control. The ability to allow or block callers, screen calls, forward calls to numbers by who made the call, and to transcribe and received messages by email.
  2. An ability to make calls from you Google Voice number and speak from any device that’s handy to you at the time.
  3. It’s free.
  4. Depending upon your use, you will find many more advantages as you use these features.

I am also referring you to a great article by Kim Komando at

http://www.komando.com/tips/248497/3-great-things-you-never-knew-you-could-do-with-a-free-internet-phone-number/all

Again, if the link does not work, copy it into your browser’s URL window.

by Dick Orenstein, Member, Sarasota PCUG, FL

www.spcug.org