I’d bet good money that most voicemails never get played. Instead, they just sit there serving as extra “missed call” notifications, letting you know to call or text back whoever bothered to leave you the message in the first place.
But every once in a while, you get a really special voicemail. Maybe your partner called you early in the morning, knowing you were asleep, to leave a Happy Birthday recording for when you awoke. Or maybe a beloved family member recently passed away, and you have a voicemail from them that might’ve seemed pretty pointless at the time but now carries extra significance.
In those cases, you might like to save that voicemail somewhere other than your phone for safekeeping or sharing.
Most phones don’t make that as easy as it ought to be. Apple’s iPhone will back up voicemails to your computer along with everything else, but they’re stored in a funky file format that’s not easily played by most software. Most Android phones, meanwhile, store your voicemails on off-site servers.
So what should you do if you’ve got a voicemail that’s really worth saving? The solution involves some free software and an affordable purchase, but it’s doable. Here’s how:
1. Download Audacity, a free audio recording program for Windows and Mac.
2. After opening Audacity, navigate to Preferences -> Recording, then check “software playthrough.”
3. Use a male-to-male headphone cable (that is, one with connectors at both ends) to connect your phone to your computer’s “Line In” jack. That cable shouldn’t run you more than a few bucks. Note that some computers, particularly Macs, only have one audio port that serves as both input and output.
4. On Audacity’s main control panel, make sure “Line In” or “Built-In Input” is selected in the drop-down menu for the recording source, marked by a microphone icon. The source you pick should match the port you’re using to connect your iPhone or Android to your computer.
5. Hit “Record” on Audacity. Then, on your phone, play the voicemail you’d like to record. When your message is done, stop recording. If you want to get really fancy, you can use Audacity to chop off any dead air at the start or end of your recording.
6. Navigate to File -> Export Audio and save your voicemail on your computer as an .MP3. You should now be able to open the recorded voicemail in software like iTunes or Windows Media Player.
7. For extra security, back up your newly recorded voicemails to a storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, both of which offer free space.