Help me put grandma's voice on the computer!
November 24, 2008 7:21 AM   Subscribe

How can we get voicemail from the cell phone to the computer?

My partner has several voicemails from her grandparents on her cell phone. She'd like to forward these voicemails to our email/computer for more permanent storage, as they're special. How can we do this? Ideally for free.

Verizon cell phone service; Samsung SCH-a930 phone; Windows PC.

We don't want to get Skype or anything like that.

I see that got voice was recommended last year but it doesn't look like they have a free solution any more.
posted by misanthropicsarah to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Here you go.
posted by nitsuj at 7:28 AM on November 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Why don't you want Skype? It would be a pretty easy way to do it. It even comes w/ a plugin to record phone calls. Do you know any friends who use Skype that have either credits or a subscription? If so, ask them.
posted by reddot at 7:40 AM on November 24, 2008

Reddot - How would Skype let you record an existing voicemail on the Verizon voicemail system?
posted by polexa at 8:04 AM on November 24, 2008

GotVoice is still free, AFAIK. I use it.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:09 AM on November 24, 2008

inspector, how do you use it? according to this page, there are three plans, each of which cost money. am i missing something obvious?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:11 AM on November 24, 2008

Hm. I came here to suggest GotVoice, but it looks like I only get it for free since I've been a member for a while. I can't vouch for it, but you might want to take a look at YouMail, otherwise the Skype option does seem like the way to go.
posted by mistikle at 8:11 AM on November 24, 2008

How would Skype let you record an existing voicemail on the Verizon voicemail system?

Call in to your voicemail remotely (presumably by dialing your cell number and pressing pound or whatever when the message comes on). Record the call and play back the messages. VoilĂ !
posted by dseaton at 8:16 AM on November 24, 2008

Apparently, after the 14 day trial you revert to GotVoice Lite, which is what I use. I'm having trouble locating any indication that this is still the case on their pages, though.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:18 AM on November 24, 2008

Record the call

Far as I can make out, Skype doesn't have a "record the call" button.
posted by Manhasset at 8:23 AM on November 24, 2008

Far as I can make out, Skype doesn't have a "record the call" button.

yeah, that was what was confusing me as well while looking at skype. plus, we don't need skype. we have cell phones. and never talk on them anyway.

the solution that nitsuj posted seems spot-on, and i'll do that if we can't come up with anything else. BUT, i can't believe there isn't some techie way to do this. i mean, we're in the future people!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:48 AM on November 24, 2008

Is there a pressing reason for you to avoid using the simplest solution?

Buy a mini-jack to phono-jack adapter and plug the cellphone's earbud port directly into the computer's microphone input jack. I looked your phone up and according to the specs on the review sites, it should have a 2.5mm mini jack port. You'll be able to record anything on the cellphone to your heart's content using freeware audio editing software.

Search Google for 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter and you'll find tons of results, usually around $3-8 in price. If you don't want to wait, your local Radio Shack or electronics store should have the same thing just hanging on the shelf.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:56 AM on November 24, 2008

If your PC has a microphone, play back your phone message while you record it with some sound software like Audacity, then save the sample as an MP3. The fidelity won't be as good as a direct line input, but it should be OK.
posted by rfs at 8:58 AM on November 24, 2008

fwiw, Skype has a nifty little addon called Call Recorder which is what we use for the MeFi podcast but doesn't have a simple record option and the addon isn't free. Also for what it's worth, Skype itself is free to use for computer to computer calls and a call to your voice mail would be cheap, but it's probably not the easiest solution to this problem which I think JFitzpatrick has.
posted by jessamyn at 9:16 AM on November 24, 2008

So I downloaded Skype and bought the Call Recorder thingy but, to me, it sounds terrible. The voices is barely audible and there's a tonne of hiss. That's with it set to no compression (tried aac compression also) and not recording video and audio quality set to its highest.

Jess, if you guys are using this to record the podcasts, does it first sound terrible and then you guys go clean it up or... ?
posted by Manhasset at 9:44 AM on November 24, 2008

We both use headsets and do Skype to skype recordings. In your case, it's going to sound only as good as 1. the original calls 2. your cell phone reception 3. your net connection (more crap with a slower connection), but if you use headphones and a decent mic it can sound a little bit better. I think cortex cleans it up a bit in Audacity [open source audio editing program] and you might want to get his opinion on whether you can clean up your recordings some.
posted by jessamyn at 9:57 AM on November 24, 2008

If someone happened to have a PBX that did call recording, you could call into the voicemail from that PBX and check the messages. The call will be recorded, and then you can cut/paste/edit accordingly.
posted by Thistledown at 4:10 PM on November 24, 2008

What I've heard for using Skype-to-Skype recording, is that you should use each recording of their own audio. That way, you get a "local" clear copy that hasn't been transmitted through the net.

Not sure how this works exactly, and I can't find the reference suggesting this method... I think it was on some podcasting tips blogpost.

Back to the original question...

I also don't understand the avoidance of "getting" Skype. It's not like when you say you "don't need it" that you're buying a monthly plan or something. Skype offers a la carte pricing. You just download the software program, sign up for an account/username, put $1 on it, call your voicemail, record the message playing, and then you're done. You'll probably even have like $0.80 left.
posted by polexa at 4:41 PM on November 24, 2008

I did this exact thing last year with birthday messages from my kids' great-grandmother in Germany, after more than a year of saving them every week on the phone.
I did it via the land line, though. That way I could record the audio coming into the computer from the modem jack.
I'm on a Mac and I used the trial version of Ambrosia's WireTap but there seems to be lots of free or shareware apps if you search for "phone" "record" etc.
You just plug a phone cable from your computer modem into the wall jack, hit record and dial in to your messages. You can dial the number with another phone on the line or use a phone dialing app. Sounds convoluted but it worked pretty well.
posted by chococat at 6:32 PM on November 24, 2008

I would recommend using a program like CallRec or mVoice but the problem is they arent available for your phone. I used them on my Palm treo and it worked perfectly.

There might be a version of something similar for your Samsung, but I don't think so.
posted by schindyguy at 11:08 AM on November 25, 2008

Skype does have a prepaid option. Just spend $10, and you'll be able to get the call and have a backup service to call places should your phone die or get lost.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2008

Here's your ultimate, easy solution. First off, sign up at (free) on a mobile (also VZW) phone that does not have the voicemails in its inbox/archive. Then complete the mobile setup via instructions on Youmail's site. Finally, log into your primary account's archived voicemail and forward the saved messages to the other Verizon account.

I've not tried this, but in theory this should send the voicemail to your Youmail account where it can be downloaded as an mp3. If this does not work, it does not jeopardize the status of the treasured voicemails.
posted by nmabry at 12:35 PM on November 25, 2008

« Older stupid computers, always cutting things short   |   Said's last word Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.