Make and receive calls with Google Voice and Gmail

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Did you know that you can make free calls to the US and Canada from your Gmail account? You can, with Google Voice and Gmail.

About Google Voice:

“Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers’ experience, and more.

Google Voice isn’t a phone service, but it lets you manage all of your phones. Google Voice works with mobile phones, desk phones, work phones, and VoIP lines. There’s nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don’t have to make or take calls using a computer.

Google Voice will let you define which phones ring, based on who’s calling, and even let you ListenInTM on voicemail before answering the call. We use smart technology to route your calls. So, if you’re already on a Google Voice call, we’ll recognize it and use call waiting to reach you on the phone you’re on.”

If you don’t have a Google Voice account sign up here.

Gmail is simply Google’s free email service. If you don’t already have a Gmail account, you can sign up for one here.

Both services are free. When signing up for your Google Voice account use your Gmail email address so that both accounts are linked.

Before you can start making and receiving calls from Gmail you will need to install this plugin.

Making and receiving calls

To make and receive calls simply log into your Gmail account. On the left hand side of your browser you will see the “Call Phone” option. Click on it to bring up the dialpad and dial away.
Calls to the US and Canada are free. You can add credit to your Google Voice account to make international calls at very reasonable rates.

Assuming that you are connected to the Internet, the only other requirement is for you to have a functioning microphone and speakers on your desktop or laptop.

Alternatively, you can use a headset that includes both mic and headphones.

To receive calls leave your browser open and logged into your Gmail account. An incoming call notification will be displayed on your screen in addition to the usual incoming call ring when a call comes in. To answer a call click on the “Answer” call button. You also have the option to screen the call or to ignore it.

Benefits

One of the ways I use the service is to make and receive calls when traveling outside the US. You will save on costly roaming and long distance charges. All you need is a free Wifi hotspot.

I’ve also found myself using it as a replacement for my home phone or cell phone. By no means am I cutting off my home or cell phone but it’s very convenient to be able make a call right from your desktop or laptop without having to reach for your phone.

Google Voice by itself does much more, but I will leave it to you to explore.

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