How to Use Voicemail to Text

Save voicemail transcription for future reference or quick screening

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.

  2. Tap Voicemail on the bottom of the screen.

  3. Tap a voicemail message.

  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.

    Voicemail view 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.

  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.

    Saving a copy of the transcription

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. Visit voice.google.com in your browser.

  2. Tap Continue to accept the Terms and Conditions.

    Google Voice welcome page with Continue button highlighted
  3. Enter a city or area code and select a city from the list that appears.

    Selecting a Google Voice number
  4. Select a phone number from the list.

    Choosing a number from the list
  5. Follow the steps to verify your existing phone number.

    Verify your existing phone number
  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.

  9. To access your incoming voicemails, select the icon that looks like a tape recorder.

    Voicemail icon
  10. Click the message in the list that you want to see. A transcription will appear in the main window.

    Transcribed message
  11. To have your voicemail transcripts texted to you, open Settings > Voicemail and select Get voicemail via email.

    Get voicemail via email

    The process is the same using the app on your phone.

    Get voicemail via email in app
  12. To receive push notifications on your phone, open the Google Voice app on your phone. Tap the icon in the top-left corner and choose Settings.

  13. In the Voicemail section, tap Voicemail notifications.

  14. Toggle the On switch to the right, and set the notification options as desired.

    Turning on push notifications

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