Tip Jar: Getting More Out of Google Voice

Google Voice Icon

With invites going out every day and Google (s goog) and Apple (s aapl) being in the news many times over because of the rejection of its native Google Voice app for the iPhone, many are giving this service a close look. If you’re a Mac or iPhone user, here are some tips that’ll help you get the most out of this service.

Unlocked Phone? Free calls!

Though officially iPhone users in the U.S. should be on the AT&T (s att) network, if you’re using another carrier, you may be able to use your Google Voice number to get around your monthly allotment of minutes. Some carriers, like T-Mobile, offer the ability to provide a list of “frequently” used numbers that do not impact the minutes allowed on a monthly plan. Since Google is footing the bill for connecting calls between a Google Voice number and any other number inside the U.S., simply adding your Google number to your “favorite list” results in free calls. It’s too bad AT&T doesn’t support this feature.

No GV Mobile? No problem!

The internets were in a tizzy last week over the removal of GV Mobile from Apple’s App Store, leaving iPhone users with Google’s mobile website to place calls. If you are one of few who have jailbroken your phone, you can find GV Mobile through Cydia. For more information, check out Sean Kovacs website.

If jailbreaking isn’t your bag, then no problem! The traditional way that Google Voice works is that you simply call your Google Voice number and then press “2.” From here, you can dial the outgoing call as normal. For those who frequently are calling contacts with their Google Voice number, here’s a quick way to simplify the process.

In your iPhone’s address book, you can add another number for a contact and format it so that your iPhone does all the dirty work of calling Google and connecting the call for you.

The process is simple. Create a new contact entry for your desired contact and for their number, insert your own Google number. Then press the “+*#” key and then the “pause” button to insert a pause. Now type a “2” followed by another “pause” and finally the desired phone number for the contact. Now you’ve told your iPhone to dial Google, initiate a new call and contact the number you’ve selected. Here’s how it should look:

Programming Google Voice numbers through iPhone

Though dialing will take slightly longer, it’s all automated and the other person will see your Google number when their phone rings! Depending on your settings, you may also need to input your PIN number with appropriate pauses. Also, make sure your Google Voice account is setup to allow direct access to voicemail when calling from your phone. These options are all in your Google Voice settings.

Google Voice On Your Mac

If your browser of choice is Firefox, developer Chad Smith has developed a plugin that quickly allows users to click any phone number on the web and dial and connect via their Google Voice number. This free plugin is available here.

Are you a Google Voice user? Have you discovered other neat tips and tricks? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Sound off and share your thoughts!