I was thrilled when Google announced back in March that Sprint customers(that’s me!) could now use their existing Sprint mobile number as their Google Voice number. Up to that point, I had relied on Google Voice for free text messaging, but it was a hassle to tell people to text me at a different number.
Best of all, Google continues to keep the service free(knock on wood). The only sacrifice for users though is that now Google controls your call/messaging records. If fears of Big Brother Google controlling larger aspects of your life is keeping you on the fence, you should know that you can now take your data out of Google’s servers at any time using Google Takeout.
One of my favorite Google Voice features is the ability to block calls. From your Google Voice inbox, simply select “Block caller” under the “more” menu. It’s as easy as that.
Now, future phone calls from that number will get a nice, friendly “this number is disconnected” message.
Blocking callers however, is often a last-resort option. You can’t just block calls from your mom, can you? Here are some alternative methods for dealing with annoying phone calls depending on the specific circumstances using Google Voice:
Do Not Disturb Me!
If you simply do not want to be disturbed for a while, you can configure Google Voice to forward all phone calls to your voicemail. To do this, follow these steps:
- Visit your Google Voice Settings page. It can be found by clicking the gear icon at the top right when you are logged in, and selecting Settings.
- Go to the Calls tab. Select the checkbox next to Do Not Disturb. Optionally, you can specify a length of time you will be away before you can answer calls again.
- Click Save Changes.
Pros: Safer alternative to blocking a caller, especially if you’re simply too busy to take calls at the moment.
Cons: Remember to disable Do Not Disturb if you do not specify a period of time you will be away!
Handling Individual Callers
Is your annoying friend/co-worker calling you constantly simply to occupy your busy lifestyle?
Google Voice makes it easy to customize the way you handle phone calls from specific callers. To do this, follow these steps:
- Go to your Contacts list in Google Voice.
- Select the checkbox next to your contact’s name.
- Click Edit Google Voice Settings
- From here, you have three options to choose from:
- When this contact calls you: Choose which phones to forward the call to, send it to voicemail, label the caller as spam, or block the caller.
- When this contact goes to voicemail: Record a custom message to greet your nagging caller.
- Call screening: This seems kind of pointless to enable, especially if you already know the contact who is always calling you. But, it sure would be fun to force them to deal with a call screener.
Pros: Instead of a blocking all calls with Do Not Disturb enabled, you can specifically target those pesky callers of yours to easily avoid their calls.
Cons: You’re too lazy to figure out how to do it.
Conditional Call Forwarding
Conditional call forwarding is a relatively unknown yet useful feature for many(all?) major wireless carriers like Sprint. So, for example, if you receive a call from someone and you do not answer or cannot be reached due to a weak signal, the call can be forwarded to another number.
So, if you forward your unwanted calls to your Google Voice number, the calls will show up as a voice mail and from there, you can easily block calls.
As explained on Lifehacker, using conditional call forwarding with Google Voice allows you to keep separate numbers if you do not have your mobile number as your Google Voice number. That way, Google Voice can be used as your voice mail and later, as a place for you to easily block calls.
To set up conditional call forwarding on Sprint, simply dial *28 followed by your Google Voice number. This may vary depending on your carrier.
Pros: Allows you to maintain separate numbers for your Google Voice and mobile number.
Cons: Not applicable to users who have their Google Voice number as their mobile number.
Whether its your annoying boss or those damn bill collectors, Google Voice makes it easy to handle the calls you’d rather ignore. If you know of a better way to avoid callers using Google Voice, share them in the comments section below!