How to set up voicemail on your iPhone

Here's how to save time by setting up 'visual' voicemail on an iPhone

Do you have a new iPhone? Then it’s time to set up your visual voicemail function. This is the feature that allows you to see all your voicemails without needing to call up a number first. You can organize, delete, and play your voicemails from this handy menu, but first you need to know how to set up voicemail on an iPhone.

Note: This process should work on most modern iPhones, including the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, although you may want to make sure that iOS is updated before you begin — do this via Settings > General > Software Update. If you haven’t set up basic voicemail through your carrier yet, skip down to our additional tip to get started and make sure everything is ready for visual voicemail.

Setting up voicemail on your iPhone

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Pretty much every phone service provider in North America now supports visual voicemail. Apple has a full list of carriers and what they support if you want to check, but if you use any major carrier at all, you are probably covered. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Go to the Phone app at the bottom of your iPhone home screen and select it. At the bottom of the phone window you will see the Voicemail icon in the right corner. Select it to open up your visual voicemail.

Step 2: The voicemail screen should show an empty space with a button to Set up now in the center of the screen. Select this. Now you have a choice: If you have used iPhone’s voicemail service in the past and have signed into it before, you can input your old password here to automatically access your old voicemails. If you have never used visual voicemail before, then you will have to create a password and re-enter it. When finished, select Done.

Step 3: Now your iPhone will bring up the Greeting screen. If you don’t care much about the greeting, you can select Default and then Done to skip this step. If you want to personalize your greeting, select Custom, then Record to record your greeting, and Play to repeat it back. When you’re happy with it, select Done.

Step 4: Your iPhone voicemail is now officially set up. However, you can also take a look here to learn more about how to move voicemails around Apple services. You can share voicemails with AirDrop, mail them to others, save them as an audio memo to save on space, and more. Check out your options and get comfortable using the voicemail system!

Not satisfied? Try an app instead

If Apple’s visual voicemail interface leaves you unimpressed, you can look for an iOS visual voicemail app to replace it. We suggest trying an app like InstaVoice or YouMail. These apps provide unique interfaces and additional features (like linking multiple phone numbers) that you may prefer to Apple’s standard offering, and both are free downloads.

Additional tip: Setting up basic voicemail

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You may want to set up and use basic voicemail on your phone until you are ready for visual voicemail. If you just switched carriers or this is your first carrier, you will probably need to set up basic voicemail directly with them. This is a good option if you’re still getting comfortable with your phone and want to use traditional voicemail until it’s time to set up the visual voicemail app.

Most of these setup procedures require dialing the right number and setting up your voicemail over the phone, but they all differ in small ways. Let’s go through by major carrier to see what they require.

AT&T: You can read AT&T’s specific instructions here. You will want to start by pressing the voicemail key or holding down the “1” key. You then set up a greeting and a password (it’s now a requirement) for your voicemail. AT&T also lets you upgrade your voicemail for more space, but this is not necessary to set up visual voicemail.

Verizon: Verizon’s setup is app-based and easy to do before you set up visual voicemail. Select the phone app, select Voicemail, and go to Set Up Now. This will walk you through choosing a password and a greeting on your iPhone.

T-Mobile: Similar to AT&T, T-Mobile wants you to press and hold down “1” key until it connects you with your voicemail. From here, set up your password and follow the instructions to record a greeting.

Sprint: If you have a Sprint phone, you have to press and hold “1” here, too. You can learn more about the process here.

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