I don’t normally write how-to articles here, but I figured one out recently that may be helpful to other people.  I was on vacation outside of AT&T’s regular coverage for the last week and a half, and roaming charges are pretty outrageous.  I also figured that I would have some limited internet access while away.  Knowing these two things, I wanted a way to prevent my phone from ringing (therefore pushing all calls to voicemail), and get my voicemail over the internet, without having to use roaming minutes to listen to it.

About a week before leaving, I got the Google Voice invitation I had put in for.  The service is really cool, and does lots of useful things.  One of these things is “Do Not Disturb” mode, which routes all incoming calls to voicemail, which gets stored on the Google side, accessible from the internet.  Plus, AT&T offers call forwarding, which routes all incoming calls to another number, for free.  “Aha!” I thought.  Here’s how to get my way.

  1. Turn on call forwarding so that all incoming calls to the cell phone actually ring the Google Voice number.
  2. Turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode at Google Voice.  (This is very important, since leaving this option off could actually cause an infinite loop of the two numbers calling each other.)
  3. Turn off all SMS alerts associated with Google Voice, to avoid being charged per text message while away.  Likewise, leave all email alerts on, so that you may be notified about all incoming messages.

With this setup, it’s extremely easy to log on to Google Voice (either the full website, or lightweight mobile version), and check your voicemail from there.  You can even check your missed calls if the caller didn’t leave a message.

But there’s one killer feature that makes this even better.  Google Voice transcribes all voicemail to text, and will forward these transcriptions via email.  This means, then, that all your voicemail meant for your regular mobile phone is basically converted to email that you can check and simply read while you’re away.  It actually worked while I was gone, and it’s something I’ll do every time I’m away from now on.