Yesterday my iPhone notified me I had 14 voicemails within the last 6 days. Why didn’t it notify me of the new voicemails as they came? I have no idea. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really pissed at my iPhone. Not only had I missed important voicemails that I should have received days ago, but it wasn’t the first time this had happened to me.

Like every normal person of the 21st century, I went to Twitter and started bitching about it. Within a few minutes I received replies from people telling me I should let Google Voice take over my iPhone. I already use Google Voice but I don’t want it to completely replace my normal line. Then someone told me I could actually replace my iPhone voicemails with Google Voice voicemails by forwarding my iPhone voicemails to Google Voice.

After doing a bit of research, this made complete sense to me and I decided to give it a go…

Why replace your iPhone voicemails with Google Voice

I never knew you were able to do that, but there is a very easy way to forward your iPhone voicemails to Google Voice. Why would you want to do that?

  • To avoid having the issue I mentioned above = to be sure you will be notified of new voicemails
  • To be notified by email and/or SMS of new voicemails
  • To receive a transcript of your new voicemails by email and/or SMS

Why not replace your iPhone voicemails with Google Voice

If you love visual voicemail and can’t live without it, then this will not work for you. Visual voicemail will be completely useless after you set up Google Voice as your voicemail manager.

I personally couldn’t care less about visual voicemail. I just want my voicemail as they come. That’s what matters to me.

How does that work?

Before getting to the actual step by step tutorial, let me explain you how this works.

We will basically tell Google Voice to take over your voicemails. When someone calls your iPhone, the phone will ring normally, then instead of going to your normal voicemails, it will be forwarded to Google Voice. From there Google Voice will store the voicemail online, notify you via email/SMS, send you a transcribe of the email and a link to play the voicemail.

It will all be done seamlessly. The person leaving you the voicemail will have no idea of what happened.

How to forward your iPhone voicemails to Google Voice

Step 1: Obviously you need a Google Voice account. GV is only available in the US at this time. If you don’t have an account yet, go to Google Voice and set up your free account.

Step 2: In Google Voice, go to Settings > Voice Settings > Phones > Next to your iPhone phone number, click “Activate Google voicemail on this phone”.

Step 3: A window will pop up asking you to dial *004*555-555-5555# (replace this fake phone number with your Google Voice number).

Step 4: Dial this on your iPhone and hit “call”. You will get a message on your iPhone saying the setting activation succeeded. Just hit “Dismiss”.

Step 5: Go back to Google Voice website and click “Done” on the pop up window.

Step 6: Now we’re going to make sure you get notified and get a transcribe when you get new voicemails. In Google Voice, go to Settings > Voice Settings > Voicemail & Text.

Step 7: Under “Voicemail Notifications”, you can choose to get notified via email, text message, or both. Under “Voicemail Transcripts”, you can choose to get your voicemails transcribed as well.

That’s it! Now when someone leaves a voicemail, Google Voice will handle it all and will alert you within seconds. I just set this up yesterday on my iPhone and so far, I couldn’t be happier with the results. No more voicemail notifications days later. And I get to receive a transcribe of all voicemails I get. This is priceless.

How to deactivate voicemail forwarding to Google Voice

If you want to deactivate Google Voice voicemails, go to Settings > Voice Settings > Phones. Next to your iPhone phone number, click “Deactivate Google voicemail on this phone”. This window will pop up. Follow the instructions by dialing ##004# and hitting “Call” on your iPhone, and everything will be back to normal.

If you have any question or comment, please feel free to ask.

  • If you still want the benefits of “visual voicemail”, just get one of the Google Voice apps. There’s several that work, but I personally prefer the VoiceCentral Black Swan application. It’s a fully HTML 5 powered app that actually loads itself into your phone, so it doesn’t actually require a web connection all the time. Very neat, and showcases the power of HTML 5 quite well.

    Installing it isn’t the most straightforward thing in the world to do, but it’s worth it just for the neat factor. Go to and try the free version.

    • Thanks for the tip, Otto!

    • Unnamedplayer

      Thanks for the tip ugly

  • Mark

    On a scale of 1 -10, rate the GV transcription accuracy. I’ve heard it is sub-par.

    • Eric

      It’s a 2

    • It’s a 7. I think it does a pretty good job but in the end, it all depends on the person leaving the voicemail: is there background noise? Is the person clear enough? Does the person has an accent?

    • sam

      about a 2 on accuracy, but a 9 on entertainment factor. i’ve actually let calls go to voicemail to see what it spits out because its usually so goddamn funny.

  • Eric

    I’ve never not gotten an immediate voicemail notification. It’s not like you didn’t know your phone rang. You’ve got a bad setting or that google voice was causing a conflict somewhere. Everyone I know who uses it on an iPhone has issues with their phone.

  • Peter Jansen

    But only within the USA

  • only works with usa # ……still love google ….

    • John

      Nice photo

  • gmansc

    I’ve been doing this for months and am very happy with the service. Transcription feature works great in meetings when you want to retrieve a phone message but don’t want to bring the phone to your ear. Transcription quality is decent. If callers speak clearly, usually no problem. And as posted by others, the visual voicemail is nicely recapitulated with GV Connect or other GV apps. These apps will soon have push features so badge counts will show up.

  • Beakhand

    I don’t have any phone service on my iPhone just use it when there is wifi anybody know if I can. Use gv without phone service will greatly appreciate the help

    • Why buy iPhone , there is iPad and iPod !!!!

      • Beakhand

        That way people like u will show me the top half too

    • Goofygreek

      I think gv uses your phone, and not the internet connection. So Gv might be useless for you. Other than receiving text and voicemail when connected to wifi.

  • Kirk

    What about outside U.S.? Is there anyway use google voice mail replace voice mail?

    That also means you don’t need to pay the extra cost the the phone carrier, wonderfully.

    • Google Voice is a US only service so far

  • Jason masters

    Sidenote this does not work with Tmobile flexpay at all…

  • Hoodoo

    Anyone have an idea how many rings before GV voicemail picks up as compared to AT&T?

    BTW I use Black Swan and give it high marks. Hope Riverturn continues to fine-tune it. Now they’ve got competition.

  • chrispx

    I’ve used Google Voice only for the voicemail as you suggest for several months and love it for the transcript feature. With AT&T depending on your calling plan, I think you can still add the GV number to your A-List and not have it count against your minutes. I use GV Mobile+ but will check out Black Swan.

  • lordlad

    I would have LOVED this……..but google voice is for US ONLY…

    sucks to be us non-Americans 😛

  • Thor

    Having same problems with APay&Pay not sending VM notifications sometimes for many hours. I am trying to integrate your most excellent solution with using SMS GV Extension so I get SMS via bitesms for free. By selecting “send a text (SMS) message to: mobile “. The VM notifications will go through billed APay&Pay SMS and start racking up. According to GV ext dev all SMS will be sent to carrier as well.
    Anyone have ideas on how to make everyone play nice together?

  • Ps- if you have sprint, instead of the *400 code, dial this code:


    Where the xs are your google voice number.

  • dan

    Very well written … I would say one of the best for google voice mail setup… keep up the good work …

  • dan

    Skype In : Is it possible to use Google Voice Number like Virtual Number … ?

  • char

    I am trying to send my saved voicemails to my email and att voicemail app deletes the saved voicemails and I need to know if i use this google voice will it delete my saved messages?

  • Michelle

    Upgraded to the iPhone 5s and google voicemail is no longer working…
    my phone number didn’t change. my phone is still registered in google voice… settings, phone.

    Any Ideas?


    • SK

      I have a US phone number and an iphone with AT&T service. I am in Saudi Arabia. Can I set up the google voice and receive the incoming voice message in the google voice? Your quick response will be highly appreciated. If it works, what setting on need to do on the iphone?