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 11 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 13 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 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 free apps provide unique interfaces and additional features — like linking multiple phone numbers — that you may prefer to Apple’s standard offering.

Setting up basic voicemail

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 start off with traditional voicemail.

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 required) for your voicemail. AT&T also lets you upgrade your voicemail for more space, but that’s not necessary to set up visual voicemail.

Verizon: Verizon has an FAQ help page on its website for Android phones, but directs you to Apple’s instruction page for setting up visual voicemail on your iPhone.

T-Mobile: Like Verizon, T-Mobile directs you to the Apple instruction page to set up visual voicemail.

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

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