10 Tips and Tricks For Getting The Most Out Of Google Voice

Google Voice Brin

Google Voice can be an incredibly powerful service with the right tools at your disposal, and with the advent of Number Porting and clicking to call from Gmail, it’s obvious that Google has made a real investment in the service.

From call recording to group screening, we’ll show you our favourite tips for making the most out of Google Voice.

And if you’re never used Google Voice before–maybe the time is now to give it a shot. The features we highlight here are great glimpses as to everything you can accomplish with Google Voice.

Port your real phone number to Google Voice

This one may take a bit of work, but it's almost certainly worth it. Once you port your number to Google Voice, you take can advantage of every feature, but without having to hand out a new Google Voice number and confusing your friends.

Navigate to your Google Voice settings and click 'change/port' next to your Google Voice number. Follow the steps and pay the $20.00, and your number should be ported within 24 hours. One caveat: porting your number may incur early termination fees from your carrier.

BigPhone parks Google Voice in your menu bar

For $4.99 in the Mac App Store, BigPhone is a great way to ensure Google Voice is always visible, regardless of what you're doing.

BigPhone features some nice capabilities like SMS chat windows and notifications using Growl (for SMS, voicemail, and missed calls), but according to the developer, making outgoing calls is 'coming soon.' So for now, we like BigPhone for its ability to manage your texting conversations, and not much more than that.

Tired of all your phones ringing simultaneously? Set up specific times when each phone will ring.

Google Voice is wonderful, but having all of your phones ringing at the same time can get annoying. This Google Voice feature is inexplicably hidden from view, but may be one of the most important features you can customise.

In your Google Voice settings screen, navigate to the 'Phones' tab and click 'Edit' next to a number you've set up for forwarding. Then, click 'Show Advanced Options,' and look down to 'Ring Schedule.' If you click 'use custom schedule,' you can dictate which of your phones will ring at what time. Handy!

Use Google Voice Locations or Locale for Android to only ring the phones you are near

If your schedule is unpredictable enough that you can't use the built-in Google customisations (in the previous tip), use Google Voice Locations (pictured, free on Android Market) to have Google only ring certain phones when you are in specific locations.

Another alternative, albeit a little more messy, is using Locale ($9.99 on Android Market) and some crafty tweaks to make Google Voice location-aware.

Send missed calls to your Gmail inbox so you don't forget to call back

Juggling a few phones and email accounts is difficult enough, so why not make things a little bit easier?

It's easy to forget to call somebody back, but by checking this box in the Google Voice 'Calls' settings screen, you can make sure you get some hard evidence to remind you to call back. If you check this box, an email reminder appears in your Gmail inbox right in between all of the other people you have to email or call back.

Record incoming calls by pressing 4

During any incoming phone call, it's simple to record the call for easy playback later on.

All you need to do is press the number 4 on your phone during a call and Google announces to both parties that the call is being recorded. Once the call has concluded, the recording of the call appears in the 'Recorded' tab on the left panel of Google Voice.

Don't try anything scandalous, though---recording a call without informing the other party is illegal in the United States.

Change your Skype caller ID from the default 000123456

To further immerse your Google Voice number into your digital life, add it as a Caller ID number in your Skype settings. This way, when you make calls from your Skype account, people will see your Google Voice number.

To do it, sign in to skype.com, navigate to Account, then click the 'Call Phones' tab. Click 'set up caller identification' under 'Make A Call' to get started. Respond to the confirmation text messages sent to your Google Voice account, and you're all set! Until Google Voice develops their own VoIP service, that is.

Use Groups to customise which voicemail callers hear

Using the 'Groups' tab in Google Voice settings, you can easily delegate how calls are handled when they come from certain people. The first step is putting people into groups using your Contacts list.

Of course, in your Contacts list, you can set up specific responses to specific people, but often it's easier to divide people into groups based on how you want calls handled. For example, I can set up a specific voicemail message for my closest friends, and I can also delegate which phones will ring when they call and whether or not Google will ask the caller for their name when they call.

One easy tweak would be to put all of your contacts in one group and set up a more personal voicemail message. This way, calls from people in your contacts list can hear 'Hello, you've reached Ellis Hamburger' while unknown callers will hear 'Hello, you've reached xxx-xxxx' (some privacy experts suggest that you don't even use your name in your voicemail message).

Just got home? Transfer the call from your mobile phone to your home phone with ease

The first step to being able to transfer calls is making sure to set up all of your phone numbers through the 'Settings' tab in Google Voice settings. Adding phones to your Google Voice account is simple, and ensures that people can reach you, no matter where you are.

Once you have all of your phones set up, all you need to do is press the * (star) key on the phone you are currently using, and all of your other phones will ring. Pick up your home phone, end the call on your mobile, and you're no longer using your precious wireless minutes.

Use Google Voice extensions on your jailbroken iPhone

If you have a jailbroken iPhone, you can make it act a lot like an Android using Google Voice (a much more native feel).

Search for 'Phone GV Extension' and 'SMS GV Extension' in the Cydia Store and install them to get started. Once you trying using them, however, you'll be prompted to purchase them for $3.00 each (or you can test them out on a four-day trial) using PayPal. Once you complete this process, your jailbroken iPhone will now handle all incoming and outgoing texts and calls using Google Voice natively.

So now that you've souped up your Google Voice...

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