How to set up voicemail on your iPhone

The visual voicemail feature on your iPhone allows you to see all your voicemails without needing to call up a number first. Visual voicemail lists of all your voicemail messages so you can choose which ones to listen to now or later, and which to share or delete. Depending on your iPhone model and location, you may also be able to read transcripts of your voicemail messages with the iPhone’s voicemail-to-text feature. You can organize, delete, and play voicemails from this handy menu, but first you need to know how to set it up to work properly.

This process should work on most modern iPhones, right up to the new iPhone 12 models, although you will want to make sure that iOS is updated before you begin — do this via Settings > General > Software Update. Once you’ve updated to the latest version of iOS 14, you should be all set. 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.

You can even save your visual voicemail messages as notes or voice memos, or share them with apps like Messages, Mail, or AirDrop.

Setting up voicemail on your iPhone

Mostly all phone service providers in North America support visual voicemail. Apple has a full list of carriers and what they support for your reference, but if you use any major carrier, you are covered. Here’s how to proceed.

  • 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.
  • The voicemail screen should show an empty space with a button to Set up now in the center of the screen. Tap 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 enter it. When you’re finished, select Done.
  • 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.
  • 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. Just tap the voicemail message you wish to save and tap the share button.

Set up a visual voicemail transcript

Beginning with iOS 10, and operative on iPhones dating back to the iPhone 6S, you can see both your visual voicemail and a text transcript of the message. Voicemail transcripts take the audio file and run it through Apple’s servers using machine learning to transcribe the audio into text. That way, you can either listen to or read your messages. In order to see both, you need to have Siri enabled via Settings > Siri & Search > and Language English (U.S.) or English (Canada). After you set it up, you can tap on any previous or existing message, and it will start a new text transcription of it.

Not satisfied? Try an app

If Apple’s visual voicemail interface isn’t up to your standards, you have alternative options. Try looking for an iOS visual voicemail app to replace it. We suggest trying an app like InstaVoice or YouMail. These apps are free and provide unique interfaces as well as added features, like linking multiple phone numbers. With this in mind, you may prefer one of these options to Apple’s standard offering.

Setting up basic voicemail

Before launching visual voicemail on your device, it may be best to set up and get used to the basic voicemail service. If you’re new to a carrier or just changed providers, the company itself may require you to set up a voicemail directly with them. For the users who are still learning how to navigate their phone fully or who don’t receive many calls, to begin with, the basic voicemail service could prove to be helpful. 

Setup procedures will vary depending on your carrier; However, every setup will typically follow the same steps of dialing the correct number and setting up your voicemail over the phone.

AT&T: You can find AT&T’s specific instructions here. Hit ‘1’ or the Voicemail button to specifically navigate to your voicemail. You will be prompted to choose or record a greeting if you’ve never done that before. AT&T will request that you create a password. If you get many calls, you can choose to upgrade your voicemail for more storage, but that isn’t necessary for visual voicemail.

Verizon: Verizon’s website offers an FAQ help page to set up voicemail on an Android phone. If you’re an iPhone user, though, you’ll need to check out Apple’s specific instruction page to get visual voicemail set up.

T-Mobile: In a similar way to Verizon, T-Mobile sends users directly to Apple’s instruction page to launch visual voicemail.

Sprint: Press ‘1’ on your Sprint phone to open voicemail. To set up your voicemail, we recommend clicking to learn more about the process here.

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