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 a number first. Visual voicemail lists all of 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 13 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 15, you should be all set.

You can even save your visual voicemail messages as notes or voice memos or share them with Apple’s built-in apps — Messages, Mail, or AirDrop.

Subscribing to visual voicemail

Nearly every cellular service provider in North America supports Apple’s Visual Voicemail, even many of the smaller ones. Apple offers a full list of carriers and what features they support for your reference, but it’s safe to say that you’re covered if you use any of the big carriers.

However, it’s important to be aware that not every plan includes Visual Voicemail by default, and some carriers may charge extra for it. To make matters even more confusing, some carriers use the term “Visual Voicemail” to refer to a variety of different services that also cover Android smartphones and other devices, so make sure you have iPhone Visual Voicemail set up as part of your plan. Most carriers do this automatically if you purchased your iPhone directly from them, but you may need to be more specific about your requirements if you’re bringing your own iPhone onto a new carrier.

It’s pretty easy to tell if you don’t have the correct iPhone Visual Voicemail plan, as none of the steps below will work. Instead, tapping the Voicemail button in your Phone app will simply place a call to your basic voicemail service, where you’ll need to key in your passcode and retrieve messages the old-fashioned way, using the numeric phone keypad.

Setting up voicemail on your iPhone

Once you’ve subscribed to a plan with the proper iPhone Visual Voicemail service, setting it up is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to proceed:

Step 1: Open the Phone app, which is located at the bottom of your iPhone home screen by default.

Step 2: Tap the Voicemail button in the bottom-right corner. This is also how you will access your voicemail messages once everything has been set up.

Step 3: This should bring you to a screen with instructions on how to set up Visual Voicemail with a Set Up Now button in the center of it. If this shows a Call Voicemail button instead, or automatically dials your voicemail service and shows you a numeric keypad, you haven’t properly subscribed to Visual Voicemail. In this case, you’ll need to contact your carrier to help you get the correct service added to your plan.

Step 4: Tap Set Up Now to begin configuring your Visual Voicemail service.

Step 5: When prompted, enter a passcode for your voicemail service. This passcode will be needed if you ever want to access your voicemail messages from another phone, or if your iPhone can’t access the Visual Voicemail service, such as when you have no data coverage.

Step 6: After you’ve selected a passcode and confirmed it, it’s time to select how you would like callers to be greeted when they reach your voicemail. Select Default to use the standard visual voicemail greeting, or Custom to record a message of your own.

Step 7: If you choose to use a custom greeting, tap the Record button to begin recording your greeting. Tap Stop when finished. Tap Play to listen to your greeting, or Record to erase the previous recording and try again.

Step 8: When satisfied with your greeting, tap Save.

Listening to Visual Voicemail messages on your iPhone

Once Visual Voicemail has been configured, new voicemail messages will appear in the Phone app in much the same way that emails appear in your Inbox. You’ll be able to see a full list of all of the voicemail messages that you’ve received, including the date and time, who they’re from, and their length. You can open and listen to any message simply by tapping on it, without the need to go through the more cumbersome process of dialing into your voicemail service and using the numeric keypad to navigate through it.

Step 1: Open your Phone app.

Step 2: Tap the Voicemail button in the bottom-right corner. You should see a list of any voicemail messages you’ve received. New messages will be marked with a blue dot.

Step 3: Tap on a voicemail message to listen to it. New messages will play back automatically, while a message you’ve already heard will simply expand to show a playback button that you’ll need to tap on to listen to it again. From this expanded view, you can also tap the speaker button to switch between the earpiece, speakerphone, or another audio device such as a set of AirPods. Additional buttons let you call the person back, share the voicemail message as an audio file, open the contact details, or delete the message entirely.

Accessing Visual Voicemail Messages with Siri

One of the great things about Visual Voicemail is that you can also call up your messages directly using Siri. This isn’t confined to just new messages either; you can ask Siri to play back messages from specific callers, or even listen to messages from specific dates. Here are a few examples of things you can say to Siri to call up your Visual Voicemail messages:

  • “Hey Siri, listen to my new voicemail messages.”
  • “Hey Siri, listen to my voicemail messages from Tim Cook.”
  • “Hey Siri, listen to my voicemail messages from November 25th.”
  • “Hey Siri, listen to my new voicemail messages from today.”

Note that if you specifically ask for new voicemail messages, Siri won’t play anything back unless there are actually new messages that match your request. However, if you simply ask Siri to “listen to voicemail messages,” without adding the word “new,” then you’ll first be told that there are no new messages before Siri offers to play back your saved messages instead.

Access Visual Voicemail from another phone

You can also dial into Apple’s Visual Voicemail service like a traditional basic voicemail service, so you can still check your messages when you’re away from your iPhone or otherwise unable to use it. Here’s how:

Step 1: Using another phone, dial your own mobile number.

Step 2: When you hear your voicemail greeting, press * or # to bypass the greeting.

Step 3: Enter your voicemail password.

Step 4: Follow the verbal instructions to listen to your voicemail messages. This may vary between different carriers.

Also note that since Visual Voicemail requires a data connection, it won’t be available if your cellular data is off and there’s no Wi-Fi network nearby. In this case, you’ll see a message at the top of your Voicemail screen letting you know that Visual Voicemail is currently unavailable, along with a Call Voicemail button that can be used to dial into your voicemail directly.

Change your Visual Voicemail greeting

Although you’ll need to choose a greeting when you first set up Visual Voicemail on your iPhone, it’s easy to change at any time. You can even switch back to the default greeting if you decide you don’t want to use a custom greeting anymore. Here’s how to update your voicemail greeting:

Step 1: Open your Phone app.

Step 2: Tap the Voicemail button in the bottom-right corner.

Step 3: Tap Greeting in the top-right corner of the screen.

Step 4: If you’re using a Dual SIM configuration with more than one phone line available, choose which line you’d like to update the greeting for.

Step 5: The next screen will show you your current greeting settings.

Step 6: If you’re using a custom greeting, you can tap Play to listen to it, or Record to record a new one. You can also tap Default to switch back to the standard default greeting, which usually just offers up an automated voice that says you’re not available and reads back your phone number.

Step 7: If you’re using the default greeting, you can tap Custom to switch to a custom greeting instead. Tap the Record button to begin recording your greeting, and tap Stop when finished. To listen to your greeting, tap Play. You can also hit

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