How to Turn off Voicemail

Hate receiving voicemails? Get rid of them for good

Voicemail on iPhone
Voicemails aren't as important as they used to be. Erikona / Getty Images

Remember when voicemail was a convenience? Then email and texting became popular, landlines started going away, and voicemail eventually became a burden for many. Many people still leave voicemails, though, so what's a voicemail-hating person to do?

There are a few options to turn off voicemail, though none of them are perfect. Depending on your phone, you might be able to use a carrier code, adjust your phone's settings, or use a third-party app. There are also less techy options that will do the trick. Here are four methods to disable voicemails, or at least limit them.

How to Delete Voicemail on Android 

If you have an Android phone, you might be able to disable voicemail by adjusting your call-forwarding settings; you can disable three functions, such as Forward When Busy, Forward When Unanswered, and Forward When Unreached. In some cases, you can disable all call forwarding.

Android screenshot of call settings page including call forwarding options
On some Android phones, you can disable call forwarding, which will kill voicemail.

Note: Your options might not match exactly, and not all Android smartphones have this setting.

  1. Check if you have it by opening the Phone app, then tap the Menu icon, and go to Settings.
  2. Scroll through the settings and tap call-forwarding if it's an option.
    1. Note: You may have to open Advanced or More Settings to find this.
  3. Disable all call-forwarding functions. Your phone should stop forwarding calls to your voicemail provider. 

How to Use Carrier Codes to Remove Voicemail

Your carrier may be able to help disable voicemail. You can also try using a carrier code to call customer service or call the helpline directly to talk to a representative. Dial 611 from your smartphone if you're on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon in the U.S. You should be able to talk to someone who can shut off your voicemail while you're on the line.

Download an Android App

If customer service can't help you or you'd prefer another method, some apps can help, including the aptly named No More Voicemail.

Android screenshot of No More Voicemail app setup screen
No More Voicemail walks you through the steps to eliminate voicemail; you may have to go through the steps more than once.

No More Voicemail uses a feature called conditional call forwarding offered by the four major carriers as well as U.S. Cellular. Once set up, your caller hears never-ending ringing if you don't pick up, like in the days before answering machines. Set-up involves dialing an activation code using an in-app button, waiting for the call to disconnect, and then confirming you've done so in the app.

Call your number from another phone to verify it worked; if your voicemail picks up, you'll have to try again.

Note: This may not work with all phones; if it doesn’t, the company may be able to help (email support@nomorevoicemail.co) or contact your carrier. Furthermore, many Google Play reviews say some calls still slip through occasionally.

Fill Your Mailbox

One surefire way to kick voicemail to the curb is by filling up your mailbox. When you reject or miss a call, a greeting will tell the caller the mailbox is full and won't be able to leave a message.

Here are a few ways to stuff your mailbox:

  • Never delete your voicemail messages and wait for it to fill up.
  • Call your phone, wait for the beep, and play music into the speaker. You might have to record a few messages if voicemails have a cutoff time, but once you do, you can't receive new messages. 
  • Change your greeting to say that nobody will be checking the mailbox and to send a text or email instead of leaving a message.

Turn Voicemail into Text

Voicemail isn't going anywhere in the short term, but you can take the "voice" part out of it by using visual voicemail, which transcribes your messages. Mobile carriers offer paid options, but Google Voice does it for free.

To use Google Voice, you'll have to forward your calls to a Google Voice number, which is also free. When you get a voicemail, Google transcribes it and texts or emails it to you.