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Tech tips

5 hidden ways Google Voice can make your life easier

Thanks to the ubiquitous adaptation of smartphones, you no longer need to remember phone numbers. Can you recite from memory any digits you have received during the past few years? Your own number is different, however. You’ve had it forever and it’s followed you from phone to phone like an old friend.

Unfortunately, there are times when you may have to drop your beloved number in exchange for a new one. You may have moved or switched to a new service. Regardless of the reason, your old number does not just disappear into the ether. It is given to someone else. Tap or click here to see how this can compromise your privacy.

The more widespread your number is, the more vulnerable you are to hackers and other bad actors. A secondary phone number protects your primary one, but that’s not the only reason to add one. We’ll show you an alternative that’s free and easy to use.

Get a new number without losing your old one

Google Voice is a free service that gives you a phone number to be used as you desire. It works for domestic and international phone calls, texts and voicemails. Google Voice is available for iOS, Android and your computer. All you need is a Google account to get started.

  • First, download the app for iOS or Android. Go to voice.google.com/u/0/signup to get it for your computer.
  • Next, sign in to your Google account.
  • Review the terms of privacy and proceed to the next step.
  • Choose a phone number from the list. You can search by city or area code.
  • Verify the number and enter a phone number to link to your Voice account.
  • You’ll get a six-digit code to enter for the next step. That’s it. You’re finished.

Now that you’re all set up let’s explore what you can do with your second phone number.

1. Keep your old number if you’re switching

Let’s say you have to switch providers because you’re moving to a new state or country. Perhaps you found a better deal elsewhere. You probably want to keep your old phone number, right? The good news is you can likely port it to Google Voice for a $20 fee.

Not every provider or phone number is eligible, but you can give it a try. You’ll need your account number and PIN, so have your billing account information handy.

  • Open Google Voice and click the hamburger menu icon. Go to Legacy Google Voice, then click the Settings gear icon to go to Settings.
  • Select the Phones tab, then Change / Port next to your phone number.
  • Select I want to use my mobile number and follow the onscreen instructions to set it up and pay.

2. Send certain calls straight to voicemail

Sometimes you regret giving your number to someone. It could be an ex or a pushy car salesman. When you don’t want to block someone outright, you can send them to voicemail. You can do the same for all incoming calls with Google Voice. Here’s how to do it on your computer:

  • Open Google Voice and click the Settings gear icon.
  • Click Calls.
  • Turn off your devices under Incoming calls.
  • Turn off your linked numbers under Call forwarding.

Here’s how to send calls to voicemail through your phone.

  • Open the Voice app and tap the hamburger menu icon, then Settings.
  • Tap Devices and numbers.
  • Tap the Remove X icon, then Remove next to your devices and linked numbers.

3. Safer way to give your contact info to strangers, including businesses

When asked for your phone number by a new social or business acquaintance, you give it. Perhaps it’s on your business card. This practice dates back to far before the digital age, and it’s just not necessary anymore.

When you sign up for a new account or want to sell something online, you hand over your phone number. What else are you supposed to do?

Just one bad actor can get a hold of your number and make your life miserable. Spam and robocalls can come through phone calls or text. A hacker can use your phone number to get into one of your accounts and access your information. A burner phone number minimizes your risk in all these respects.

Are robocalls days numbered? Tap or click here to find out!

4. A good idea for your own new business/side hustle

We could all use a little financial help these days. Enterprising people are starting their own businesses providing services or selling products. Anyone can get started. Have some old gadgets lying around? Tap or click here for tips on selling your tech.

Your business needs a phone number. The problem is that you’ll never know who’s going to call. Beyond legitimate clientele, you’ll get strange people asking strange questions. If you’ve ever tried selling something online, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

5. Record calls (as long as it’s legal)

Google Voice lets you record conversations. Perhaps you are doing a job interview. You could be working on a book or article and need to recall the details for your research. In any case, recording a call is easier than scribbling notes.

Note that recording calls can bring serious legal issues. Check your local laws before recording any conversation. In some states, you need to get the consent of everyone involved before hitting record.

How to record a Google Voice call on your computer:

  • Go to voice.google.com and click the Settings gear icon.
  • Click Calls.
  • Turn on Incoming call options.
  • During a call, tap 4 to start recording. All participants in the call will be notified that the recording has begun.
  • Tap 4 again to stop recording. All participants will be notified.

Here’s how to set up recording on your phone:

  • Open the Voice app and tap the hamburger menu icon, then tap Settings.
  • Turn on Incoming call options under Calls.
  • Tap 4 to start recording during a call. All participants in the call will be notified that the recording has begun.
  • Tap 4 again to stop recording. All participants will be notified.
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