Tuesday Tech Tip: Awesomify Your Calls with Google Voice in 2013

Instant Gratification: Google Voice allows you to make free phone calls and text messages, forward calls to your cell, screen calls from your mom, read your voice mails, block your ex-girlfriend, and sync your contacts.

Go directly to Google Voice.

It used to be that anyone who had your number could ring your phone. And that was really cool. Until you had an ex-boyfriend. Until you appreciated your sleep at 3am. Until you started getting spammy sales calls from the same number twelve times a day. Then there was Grand Central. And it was awesome. So Google bought it and called it Google Voice.

While it’s not feasible or smart for everyone to switch over to Google Voice, I want to tell you why I use it (exclusively) to run my business. And you can still find some cool uses for it.

Here are my favorite uses for Google Voice:

Free phone calls, forwarding and texting. Google Voice gives you a free number (if you live in the US) with your choice of area code and it even lets you make free calls and texts from your computer. Since I live in Gmail, I love that I can make calls right from my inbox. Living temporarily in Canada, I use the free Talkatone iPhone app so I can even make and take calls on my out-of-country phone. They have an Android app, too. Free texting from the computer is awesome- I get text messages in my email inbox and I can reply just like a normal email. Call forwarding allows me to forward calls to my cell phone or another number forever, or just while I’m at the cabin for the weekend.

Shared contacts with Gmail (and my iPhone). I’ve used Google to manage my contacts for years. The main reason for this is that when I upgrade (read: lose) my cell phone, I can simply connect it to Google Contacts and I instantly have all of my contacts on my iPhone. People who update their contacts manually (or worse: make their assistants do it) are insane. The best part is that I can add a contact on the computer (in Gmail) or on my phone (in the phone contacts list) and it will be updated everywhere.

Voicemail Transcription. I have to start by saying that the transcription is absolutely awful. That said, I can usually figure out who’s calling and what they want, even if it reads like, “Hi, Jack. This and carry telling now is trying to reach family and so.” I use the Chrome extension so I hear a ping when a voicemail comes in and I can listen to it in just two clicks.

I set the rules. (And spam sucks.) In the settings section, you can choose whether to screen all calls, none of them or just those pesky calls from “Anonymous.” If your ex-boyfriend gets a hold of your Google Voice number, you just click on his number and select “block all calls from this number.” Done. From Google Contacts, you can fine tune this process. If, for example, you want to send all calls from your mother-in-law directly to voicemail. A word of caution: if she finds out, you might be in a lot more trouble. Good luck with that.

Disposable number. If you don’t want to use your Google Voice number as your go-to number, you can still use it for other things. You could set it up to go straight to voice mail and then use it as the number intern applicants should call. You can give it to guys at the discotheque you may (or may not) want to hear from again. Or it could be an emergency number for family and friends that simultaneously rings your cell phone, your work phone and the red phone.

Convinced yet? It’s free so get your phone number before all of the good ones are gone. If you already have a gmail or other Google account, all you need to do is head on over to voice.google.com and pick your lucky number.

Whose calls are you going to block first?

I only share products I use and love. I never get paid for it. I’ll let you know if that changes.