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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 81: Set Up One Phone Number to Rule Them All

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

There’s little question that cell phones have improved the ability to “reach out and touch someone” from anywhere, at any time, but they’ve also added one more inbox you have to monitor, manage, and control; one more number to hand out to people; one more place you can miss calls; and one more place you have to check for messages.

For example, you may currently be juggling a personal cell phone, a landline, and a work phone. If Dad wants to get a hold of you, he may try all three before he gets you, leave messages at two, and give up by the third — which may be the only one you actually check for messages.

Google’s free telephone application, Google Voice (www.google.com/voice), rings all your phones from one number, provides free, unlimited text messaging, and consolidates all your phone-related communication (such as phone calls, text messages, and voicemail) to one centralized hub. This hack explains how to set up and make the most of Google Voice on your phones.

NOTE Although Google Voice’s marquee feature is its ability to ring multiple phones with one number, it has plenty of useful features for single-line users, detailed next.

Set Up Google Voice

Starting with a Google Voice account is a simple four-step process:

1. First, visit http://voice.google.com and create an account or log into your existing Google account. Then, Google Voice will prompt you to choose your new number, as shown ...

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