A handy guide to calling in Gmail

Contents
  1. Easily connect to contacts via VoIP
  2. How Google Voice works
  3. Calling someone from Gmail
  4. Receive a call from your Gmail interface

Easily connect to contacts via VoIP

If you’re one of the 1.2 billion people who use Google’s Gmail to send and receive email, you’re probably very familiar with the Gmail interface. Chances are you use some of the other Google services, including one of the internet giant’s free offerings, Google Voice.

With a few quick settings, you can use Google Voice to make and receive calls directly from your Gmail screen instead of having to visit the Google Voice website. This makes it easy and convenient to switch between email and phone, minimizing interruptions and speeding up the process. Read e-mail that requires a phone call? You can type it directly from the same screen without losing your mind and keeping important information to yourself.

Keep in mind that you can only make and receive calls with Voice from the Gmail screen if you’re using a computer with a working microphone. (You can, of course, make calls directly from your smartphone using the Google Voice mobile app.)

How Google Voice works

If you already use Google Voice, you already know that it uses your Internet connection to make calls (a technique called “Voice over Internet Protocol” or VoIP). If you’re using Google Voice through the Gmail interface, you won’t be able to call an email address; these are two completely different means of communication. What you configure here is just an additional, easier way to access Google Voice from within the Gmail interface.

Calling someone from Gmail

Three Google services come together to make this work. Follow these steps to call almost any number directly from your Gmail account page:

  1. Make sure you have installed the Google Hangouts plugin. (Hangouts is Google’s free chat, instant messaging, and video chat app.) When installed, you’ll see a Hangouts window in the bottom left of your email folders.

    All new Gmail accounts come with Hangouts, so you may already have one.

  2. Select phone call or phone icon to open a window where you can enter the phone number you want to call or select your contact list from.

  3. If the contact you want to call is in this list, hover over the contact and select the phone icon on the right. It has to be said Call (Name) † The phone call starts immediately.

  4. If the number is not already in your contact list, enter the phone number directly into the empty field at the top of the column and click Input (or the phone icon, which is now next to the number). The phone call starts immediately.

If the number is in a different country than the one indicated by the flag at the top of the column next to the text box, select the flag and select the appropriate country from the drop-down list. The correct country code is automatically added to the number.

You can mute the call and use the keys on the keyboard during a call. Press the red button hang up when you are ready to end the call.

You have to buy calling credit to not make free calls.

Receive a call from your Gmail interface

When you call your Google Voice number, your computer will play a ringtone as normal, but if you have the Hangouts plugin, you don’t have to leave Gmail to answer it. Just click To answer to answer the call. (You can also choose: Screen to send it to voicemail, and Participate if you choose to answer when you know who called, or Ignore † end alarm and call.)

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