Using Skype + Google Voice for Free Calls!

Recently, I started messing with Google Voice to try and see all the different things that could be done with it. I wondered if it was possible to make calls from a computer, through Skype. This would eliminate all of the complexities of dealing with Gizmo5’s application AND web interface. Additionally, it would let you have completely free calls to ANY phone (cellular or otherwise) in the US and Canada. As it turns out, it is as easy to use Google Talk and Skype with Google Voice. Here’s what you need to do to get Skype working as a “Phone” for Google Voice.

Getting Started

If you already have a Gizmo5 and Skype account, go on to the next step.

First off, you’ll need a Gizmo5 Account. Gizmo5 is similar to Google Voice, except it relies more on a local program, similar to Skype (which we’ll get to in a little bit). Setting one up is really, really easy, and totally free. You’ll just need a username, password, and email (which you should have). You shouldn’t need to download the Gizmo5 program, unless you really want to. Next, if you don’t have one yet, you’ll need a Skype account. Skype is the premiere program for video and audio chat. It also supports an IM feature, although no one really uses it (except in conjunction with a video or audio chat). Go to Skype’s website, download the skype program (make sure you select the right version for your operating system), run it, and set up an account.

Setting Up Redirection

Next, we’re going to have Gizmo5 forward all incoming calls to your Skype account. This is where things get a little interesting. Go to Gizmo5’s website, click on the “My” tab, and select the “Call Forwarding” tab. Select “Forward all calls” on the left hand side, and on the right, select “Skype” and enter your Skype username. If you’d rather use your Google Talk account (Google Talk is Google’s video chat program), then you can select that instead.

Adding Gizmo5

Finally, we’re going to link your Gizmo5 account with your Google Voice account. Leaving your Gizmo5 “My” page open, open a new window/tab in your web browser and go to the Google Voice website. In the upper right hand corner, click “settings”. Then select the “Phones” tab. At the bottom of the page, click the “Add another phone” link. Enter a name that will remind you that this is the Skype forwarding number (it doesn’t have to be anything specific). For a number, you’ll need an SIP number from Gizmo5. Every account gets an SIP number. To find out what your number is, go back to the Gizmo5 “My” page. On the general settings page, you’ll see a field that says “SIP,” followed by an 11 digit phone number (it’s a 10 digit number plus a 1 digit country code). Copy this number, and enter it in the “Number” section in Google Voice”. Make sure the “Phone Type” is set to “Gizmo,” and then hit “Save.” Don’t worry about advanced settings.

Verification

Google Voice will now attempt to authorize your Gizmo phone. A window will pop up with a 2 digit number and a “Connect” button. If you don’t see this, check the “Phones” tab for the Gizmo phone you just set up. You should see a message telling you to verify it, and a link that says “Verify Now.” Click this link. If you don’t see this message or your phone, then you should try to add the phone again.

Make sure your Skype program is running, and that you are logged in, and click the “connect” button in the Verify window. Google voice will now call your Gizmo5 number (the SIP number you gave it earlier). When the call reaches Gizmo5, it should automatically redirect the call to your Skype account. When Skype detects a call and starts ringing, answer it. You’ll hear some automated woman’s voice asking you to enter your two digit verification number. Make sure you have the audio chat window selected, and just press the two digits on your keypad. I wasn’t sure how to do this at first; I had tried sending it to the google voice number via an IM chat, or by trying to dial it into Skype’s on-screen number pad, neither of which worked.

If you can’t verify your Gizmo5 account with Skype, you can alternately try downloading the Gizmo5 program and running that. You’ll need to go back to your Gizmo5 “My” page and turn off call forwarding first, and then try verifying again. You’ll receive a call through Gizmo5 asking you to verify your account. After this, you’re all finished!

Other Notes

It turns out that Gizmo5 forwards calls to your Skype account through a service called OpenSky, which is not entirely free. If you use a call for less than 3 minutes (per call, not total), you should be fine, though. I haven’t tested to see what the results are for Google Voice, so if anyone does, let me know. Regardless, I have been able to successfully make free calls to US and Canadian home phones and cell phones. How’s that for impressiveness?

  • http://twitter.com/michaelaulia Michael Aulia

    I wish one day Google Voice comes to Australia. It'd be cool to try and play around with it. Or maybe not..since telemarketers will then start “calling” to my cell phone

    • http://technoheads.org Salem

      You know, I was really worried about telemarketers too, yet I haven't had a
      single issue! I figure if I'd ever post my number online, i'd have to do it
      in an image. Email spam is bad enough 0_o.
      You know whats worse? I'm still getting spammers with like… spam that
      doesn't even ADVERTISE things (like random letters and things), despite the
      fact that I've added captchas to pretty much everything.

      • http://twitter.com/michaelaulia Michael Aulia

        lol I guess bots with image recognition nowadays are getting smarter and smarter :(

  • gonneyeats

    I must be really, really stupid. For the life of me I can't figure out how to select the audio chat window in Skype. Can you please tell me?

    • http://technoheads.org Salem

      As in, you place the call, but you can't find the call window, or you don't
      know how to actually place a call from skype? Technically, you can't
      actually call FROM skype: you have to start a call from voice.google.com,
      which will forward it to Gizmo5, which in turn will forward it to Skype. As
      weird as it sounds, it works.

      • gonneyeats

        When I get the call from googlevoice, I don't understand where you say “make sure you have the audio chat window selected, and just press the two digits [from google voice] on your keypad…I had tried sending it to the google voice number via an IM chat, or by trying to dial it into Skype’s on-screen number pad, neither of which worked.”

        I can't figure out how to select the audio chat window.

        • http://technoheads.org Salem

          Ohhh are you on a PC? I had this issue: You actually need to download the
          Gizmo5 client for PC and set it up as a phone from there. Skype for PC, for
          some reason, has no in-call numberpad, which is strange. If you're on a mac,
          just select the chat window and type the numbers. To be honest, it might
          even be the other way around: It might only be that way on a Mac. Sorry for
          any confusion.

          • gonneyeats

            Thanks your blog is helpful, and gave me some ideas. Yes, I do have a PC. I tried to download Gizmo5. Alas, did you know it's been acquired by Google and “new user signup has been suspended and will return when we re-launch”?

            However, I got Skype to activate Google voice by forwarding my Skype number to another mobile (Verizon) number with which I was able to punch in the two digit code.

            What this means, in theory, is that while I can't make free calls as you were describing with Gizmo,I should be able answer my Google number on my pc using Skype .

            I'm still working out kinks… Skype rings but it won't let me answer: it does go through to google voice mail though.

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            What do you mean, it won't let you answer? And i *didn't* know it was
            acquired by google! Thats actually pretty astounding. I wonder if they'll
            make forwarding to gizmo5 numbers pay only now.

          • gonneyeats

            “What do you mean, it won’t let you answer?”

            the ringing icon (with the answer button) pops up, but only for a second. It doesn’t stay up long enough to let me answer. It then goes straight to google voice mail.

  • gonneyeats

    FYI — I think I got it. I fooled around with the settings in both Google Voice and Skype so much that I'm not really sure what I did (but I'll try to reconstitute it if your're interested). I seem to be answer my google voice number on my computer with Skype.

    • http://technoheads.org Salem

      I noticed a similar issue to the one you described: i think between being
      transfered to gizmo5 and then to skype, some ring time is lost. I have a
      fairly fast connection, so I still have a good 5-10 seconds to answer.
      However, what did you do, exactly?

      • gonneyeats

        Having said all this, I can't call my GV number from Skype yet (Skype says it's an invalid number). However, for the time being, I can do what I wanted; i.e. answer GV with my pc laptop.

        In GV set up your voice message and make sure you forward calls to your Skype # . Under Settings/Calls uncheck “enable screening”; set “call presentation” to off.

        In Skype/options/voicemail, uncheck “send unanswered calls to voicemail”. After unchecking this, I was able to answer calls ringing on my pc. If I don't answer, they go to GV.

        The first step to all this of course was that, as I said earlier, with a PC I could only activate GV by forwarding my Skype number to another mobile number with a carrier that works with GV (Verizon in my case: I have another phone with Virgin Mobile that I couldn't do it with). I was then able to punch in the two digit code. For this you need Skype credit: remember to turn off call forwarding in Skype when your done.

        • http://technoheads.org Salem

          Now THATS an idea. thanks for posting! is there any way to jkust increas the
          ring time, that you know of?

          • gonneyeats

            The only thing I know of in Skype is under options/calls/voicemail: you can set the amount of time before the call gets sent to voice mail. But increasing that didn't work for me. I had to uncheck “send unanswered calls to voicemail” before I could pick up. If I don't answer, the Google number will then go to Google voice, which is great.

            If someone calls me on my Skype number, it won't go to voice mail now. But I'm not concerned about that, because I don't use that number often.

            After I've tested this out for a while, I'll start giving out the Google number

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            What do you mean it won't go to voicemail? As in it just keeps ringing?
            Maybe try rechecking the “Send calls to voicemail” option and see if it
            helps at all.

          • gonneyeats

            Either it's a bit fluky (or I am). I just tried calling my Skype number directly and it did go to my Skype voice mail. (I've still got “send calls to voicemail unchecked). But basically, right now, I am starting to use the Google number. I am only using Skype at this point because I have it, I can receive Google calls with it, and I can dial out on my computer with it. If there's a better (free) program I'll gladly use it. (Something called Sipgate is supposed to be free and offers a free number I've been told).

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            Well, if you ever use Sipgate, be sure to tell me, and I'll write an article
            up and cite you in it (if you have a link you want me to post to your
            website or something, just let me know).

          • gonneyeats

            I am having trouble with my Skype/GV connection now: When I call the GV number it's not ringing on Skype, but going to straight to GV voice mail. It worked so nicely at first, I don't know why it's not now. (I haven't changed any settings as far as I know).

            If it's this inconsistent, it may not be worth pursuing.

            I'll test out the Sipgate this weekend and let you know how it works.

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            It might take a day or so for settings to change, since they do have to go
            through phone routing tables and such. Does it ring at all first?

          • gonneyeats

            I deactivated Skype from GV and reactivated it. Now I can answer GV through Skype again. Under advanced settings, I made sure that the ring schedule was set to always ring on Weekdays and Weekends (I'm not sure that I did that before) — that's one complaint I have about GV— the advanced settings aren't obvious.

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            I have to ask: did you use grandcentral before it became google voice?


            Salem


            http://technoheads.org
            http://twitter.com/technoheads

          • gonneyeats

            No. I got excited when I got the gv invitation and was able to get a number in my area code. Skype is the only internet phone I've got experience with.

          • http://technoheads.org Salem

            Ah. I myself am a grandcentral veteran. The site was shut down for
            good about a month ago, but google trimmed some of it's features after
            buying it, like custom ringbacks, group calling, and even mid-call
            phone switching.


            Salem


            http://technoheads.org
            http://twitter.com/technoheads

  • http://technoheads.org Salem

    Ah. I myself am a grandcentral veteran. The site was shut down for
    good about a month ago, but google trimmed some of it's features after
    buying it, like custom ringbacks, group calling, and even mid-call
    phone switching.


    Salem


    http://technoheads.org
    http://twitter.com/technoheads

  • Cary

    Way simpler than this. the newest version of skype has a dialpad that actually sends the number tone. all you have to do is click verify from your google voice options, then answer the call and in the call window just to the left of the call timer should be a drop down menu that contains a dialpad. simply imput the activation code and your calls are forwarded! problem solved

  • Aliasgar Babat

    I have tried both Skype and Google voice but I still prefer using Skype b/c of its superior voice quality. But recently, I have discovered another very good alternative for free audio conferencing: RHUB`s web conferencing servers. It provides landline quality and beats both Skype and GV.