Screen calls

Call screening lets you know who's calling your Google number before you accept the call. It also allows you options on how to handle your calls so that you can choose to accept it, send the caller to voicemail and ListenInTM, or record the call.

There are two ways we screen your callers:

  1. We'll show you their Caller ID on your Caller ID display.
  2. As soon as you pick up your phone, we'll announce your callers to you. We've added this second level of screening ('audio' Caller ID), because Caller ID isn't particularly useful for blocked and unknown names and numbers. Once we announce your caller (for example, 'Call from Jack Johnson'), we give you four ways to handle the call:
    • Accept it (press 1)
    • Send it to voicemail (press 2)
    • ListenInTM on the voicemail (press 2 and stay on the line)
    • Accept and record the call (press 1 then 4)

We'll store the callers' spoken names, so the next time they call, we won't have to screen them.

If you turn off this Call Screening feature, your callers won't be screened, and you won't hear an announcement of who's calling you. You won't have the option of sending a call to voicemail, using ListenInTM on the voicemail, or recording the call upon answering.

Changing the screened name

You can change the caller's name that's spoken to you ('Call from [screened name]'), so next time the person calls, Google Voice reads the caller's name you assigned to that person. Here are two ways to do this:

  • Access your Contacts list and enter the caller's name in the 'Name' field.
  • Click the add link next to the caller's number in your inbox and enter that caller's name in the 'Name' field.

Turn off call screening

If you'd like to answer calls to your Google number without pressing any numbers, simply disable call screening in your Google Voice settings. Here's how:

  1. Click the gear icon at the top right of any Google Voice page, click the Settings link, and select the Calls tab.
  2. Select the 'Off' radio button option in the Call Screening section.
  3. Click Save Changes.

With call screening turned off, the first phone that picks up will get the call if you have several forwarding phones.

If a voicemail system picks up the call, any message left by the caller will not appear in your Google Voice inbox, and instead appear on the voicemail system that picked up the call (i.e. your home answering machine, your work voicemail system, etc.). You can turn off call screening on a per contact basis in your Contacts list.

If you turn off call screening, you won't be able to directly send a call to voicemail or ListenInTM on a call.


Caroline is a Google Voice expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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