How to Use Voicemail to Text

Save voicemail transcription for future reference or quick screening

iPhone Voicemail
Voicemail on an iPhone.

Erikona / Getty Images

Voicemail-to-text services create a written version of voicemail messages on your smartphone. Although the transcription may not always be 100 percent accurate, it usually gives you a good sense of what a message is about.

Voicemail to text, also known as voicemail transcription or visual voicemail, is available on many iPhone and Android devices.

Visual voicemail services are usually governed by your contract with your cellular carrier, not with your device manufacturer.

How to Use Voicemail Transcription on iPhone

These instructions work with an iPhone 6s or newer running iOS 10 or later.

Here's how to use voicemail to text on an iPhone.

  1. Open the Phone app.

    How to use voicemail to text on an iPhone
  2. Tap Voicemail on the bottom of the screen.

    How to use voicemail to text on iPhone
  3. Tap a voicemail message.

    How to use voicemail to text on an iPhone
  4. A paragraph of text should appear just above the play button. That is the voicemail transcription. You may find there are some inaccuracies in the transcription, but you should be able to get an overall sense of what the message is about.

    How to use voicemail to text on iPhone

    You can still listen to the message by tapping the Play icon.

  5. If you like, you can share feedback with Apple on whether the transcription was useful by tapping the blue Useful or Not Useful links below the text of the transcription.

    How to use voicemail to text on iPhone
  6. You can decide whether to keep the voicemail, follow up on it, or delete it. If you want to save a copy of the transcription, tap the Save icon — an open box with an arrow pointing upward — in the upper-right corner of the voicemail message. After that, choose Notes to save the message in text format or Voice Memos to save the message in audio format.

    How to use voicemail to text on iPhone

You can also share a voicemail with someone using Messages or Mail or save it to a file management system like Dropbox. These options are also in the Save window.

How to Use Voicemail Transcription on an Android Phone

To use visual voicemail on your Android phone, first check with your carrier to confirm it supports it. T-Mobile users can access it in the visual voicemail area of their Google Phone app. Other carriers may require you to download their voicemail app to access voicemail transcription, in which case the service might come with a monthly fee.

If you don't want to pay the fee, you can use YouMail, Google Voice, or another app to get voicemail transcriptions instead. Here's how to set it up for free using Google Voice:

  1. Download the Google Phone app from Google Play if you don't already have it.

  2. Sign up for a Google Voice account.

  3. Tap Continue to accept the Terms and Conditions.

  4. Select a phone number.

  5. Follow the instructions for linking your Android device to Google Voice.

  6. Let the Google Voice app know whether you want to use it for voice calling as well as voicemail transcription. If you only need voicemail transcription, choose No.

  7. When you're done, tap Next and then tap Finish.

  8. You are taken to the main screen of your new Google Voice account. If Google Voice asks permission to access your contacts, tap Allow.

  9. In the top-right corner, you find your incoming voicemails in the tab with an icon that looks like a tape recorder. They are automatically transcribed as well.

  10. If you want your incoming voicemails automatically texted or emailed to you, tap the icon in the top-left corner and choose Settings. Google Voice asks for your permission to access your photos, media, and files. Tap Allow to grant it access.

  11. Scroll down until you find the Voicemail header. If you see that the Voicemail notifications option is already checked, there's nothing else you have to do; all your visual voicemails will be sent to you via a push notification. If it's not already checked, you can enable the setting manually.

    To have your voicemail transcriptions emailed to you, tap Get voicemail via email. To have them texted to you, tap Get voicemail via message.

You're all done. When you get a voicemail, you'll receive the transcription via a notification shortly afterward.