How to Save Voicemail Forever on Your Mac

With a combo of free Mac applications, you can record and save voicemails from your mobile phone.

You’ll need to install the following Mac applications:

skype Skype. You’ll use Skype to make a call to your mobile phone and listen to your voicemail. Though the app is free, you’ll need to buy Skype Credit to make a “Skype Out” call to your mobile phone.

 

audacity Audacity. You’ll use this free application to record your phone call.

 

soundflowerbed Soundflower and Soundflowerbed. This free system extension will connect Skype to Audacity. It’s like a laundry chute for audio; you can direct audio from any application to another. It does this by adding a pseudo “device” to your list of audio devices in System Preferences.

Instructions:

  1. Open Audacity, then Audacity Preferences. In the Audio I/O section, change the Recording device to Core Audio: Soundflower (2ch). audacity_preferences
  2. Open Skype, then Skype Preferences. Under the Audio tab, change Audio Output to Soundflower (2ch).
    skype_preferences
  3. Open Soundflowerbed in your menu bar, then under Soundflower (2ch), select Built-in Output. Soundflowerbed allows you to monitor the audio passing through Soundflower, like having a window into the laundry shoot to watch clothes that fall past.
    soundflower_preferences
  4. Back in Audacity, click the Record button to begin recording.

    audacity_record_button

  5. In Skype, make a call to your cell phone. When your greeting begins playing, press the sequence of keys that accesses your voicemail (probably the asterisk key followed by your password.) Listen to your voicemail as you normally would. Then hang up. skype_phonecall
  6. Switch back to Audacity and click the Stop button. You should see the zig-zaggy waveform of the message you just recorded.
    audacity_stop_button
    audacity_waveform
  7. Click the Audacity cursor directly before your message. (You can find out where this is by using the Play and Stop buttons.) From the Edit menu, choose Select then Track Start to Cursor. Push the Delete key on your keyboard. This will remove extraneous audio before your message. audacity_before
  8. Click the Audacity cursor directly after your message. From the Edit menu, choose Select then Cursor to Track End. Push the Delete key. This will remove extraneous audio after your message. audacity_after
  9. Choose Export from the File menu and save your voicemail. You can email it to a friend or save it in iTunes. audacity_export

48 thoughts on “How to Save Voicemail Forever on Your Mac

  1. Dave
    Great tip, Richard! You saved me taking the trip to the Verizon store (and paying 20 bucks for them to download the voicemail from my wife’s phone before converting to an iPhone. Get this — they will download the message and either burn them to a CD or provide them on a cassette tape. Are you kidding, I asked?? Nope. I asked the sales person exactly where I might find a cassette recorder……lol.
    I actually have a few around, but I thought I was the dinosaur!
    Thanks again, very useful tip.
  2. Mike
    Awesome! Thanks so much. Any way to make the saved file smaller? The message I wanted to save was only 90 seconds but 19 MB. Thanks!
  3. Dave
    I’ve spent 3 hours playing with this today. Have installed all 3 applications, but there is no such pull down option in Audacity preferences. Only Core Audio. Nothing else. Does anyone know any other method to do this?
  4. Evelyn
    Thank you! These instructions have saved a really important and sentimental message. Really, thank you so much, you are amazing!
  5. Thank You!
    Like so many others, I just want to say thank you so much for posting these instructions! This process was so simple, and it allowed me to save a very important message before my carrier’s voicemail server automatically deleted it. You, sir, are wonderful! 🙂
  6. PGL
    Hi Richard,

    My voicemail messages are within Skype, through my Skype Online number. Because I’ve listened to them on my iPhone, I believe they are saved locally on the iPhone (I’m not able to listen to them on my computer). The new version of Skype is a mess with iOS5 – it doesn’t even ring in – and so I need to go back to the previous version. I’d like to save my important voicemail messages before doing so… once I uninstall, I believe it will delete the messages. Thankfully, I synced my phone right before I upgraded Skype and so restoring the previous version will be easy. Will the process you’ve described here work for Skype voicemails as well? Thank you!

    1. Richard K Miller Post author
      PGL, if you can call in and hear the voicemails, you should be able to record them using this process. This process will work for recording any phone call, including to your voicemail box.
  7. Julie D
    Richard:
    I was having trouble figuring out how to open my messages when calling through Skype so I figured out this work-around. Maybe it will work for others. (I was so happy as I had been trying to save these messages of my daughter for about 2 years.) The only issue I seem to have and don’t understand is that even once I get the messages into iTunes, I still have to have Soundflower running in order to hear the messages play. If someone else can figure out how to play without Soundflower running, that would be good to know.

    Saving Visual Voicemail to iTunes:

    1) Open Visual Voice Mail on Android in programs.
    2) Highlight message you wish to save.
    3) Under “Options”, select Forward by Email.
    4) Choose Yahoo Mail and type in email address. Message file will be sent.
    5) Open Yahoo Mail on computer.
    6) Download file.
    7) Open Soundflower and iTunes apps.
    8) Open downloaded file. It should open in the Audacity application.
    9) Listen to message to determine a name for the file.
    10) Go to file at top of the page and select “Export”
    a) under Save As type file name
    b) Save to desktop
    c) Save in MP3 format
    d) Hit Save
    11) This will open a Metadata screen
    a) Under Artist – type in caller name
    b) Under Title – type in name of file
    c) Under Year – type in the year of the message
    d) Hit OK twice. Message will be saved in MP3 format on desktop.
    12) Open MP3 file with iTunes.
    13) In iTunes, the message will begin playing under Recently Added
    14) Input the date and time of the message if you choose(you can find that
    information on the selected message on the Android)
    15) Create a playlist named Voicemail and move the message to that
    folder and minimize iTunes.
    16) Open the Voicemail Folder on the desktop (or wherever filed). Drag the
    MP3 file into the Voicemail Folder for storage.
    17) Highlight the Audacity app with the message still open.
    18) Hit File – Save Project As
    a) In the screen which opens, name the file again as you did the MP3 file.
    b) In the save location, choose Voicemail Folder
    c) Hit save.
    d) The file will then be renamed and you can close it.
    19) On the Visual Voice Mail on the Android, you may then erase the message.
    20) Repeat for further messages. When you return to Yahoo Mail, create a folder for Voicemail and save the last message worked on in that folder.

  8. Google Voice User
    Since Google Voice calls are free (for all US domestic calls), and Skype costs money to use when calling a phone instead of a Skype user, anyone know how to get this working to Google Voice?
    1. Tricia
      Skype wasn’t working for me because of extensive dialpad issues, so I used Google and was SO RELIEVED to finally get the voicemails saved.

      Follow instructions #1 and 3 above to set up Audacity and Soundflower.

      In place of step #2:

      (I believe I have both Google Talk and Google Voice installed — not sure which I’m technically using. Also, I’m in the “New Look” for Gmail, by the way.)

      Scroll over the “Chat” button on the left side of your screen in Gmail. Click the little arrow that pops up on the right next to Chat and click on “Chat Settings” at the bottom.

      On the screen that pops up, I have both microphone and speakers set to Soundflower (2ch).

      Substitute Google for Skype in Step 5 — Click “Call Phone” on the left side of the screen in Gmail to get the Google dialpad.

      I think that’s all I did differently. Let me know if this works!

  9. Shawn Beatty
    Thanks for posting this!
    I too was having troubles with Skype dialpad, but after upgrading to a newer version of Skype (5.3.0), everything seemed to work fine.
    It seemed like I got a lot of background noise from the internal microphone? (laptop fan humming) but I was able to filter out the background noise using audacity. Maybe there is a better way to record without the noise… Tried muting skype which didn’t seem to do anything different, and turning off internal mic, which killed the audio completely.

    Great tip! Glad I saved my $30 for rush processing and audio recording by doing it myself.

  10. dana
    dear richard
    thank you so so much. i had a voicemail from my grandma who passed away and i could not figure out how to save it when i switched phones. thanks to your instructions i can have it forever. god bless
    dana
  11. Tricia
    After extensive issues with the Skype dialpad, I tried Google Talk. I downloaded it for free and used pretty much the same steps listed above, substituting Google Talk for Skype. Google Talk has free calls (at least right now) in the US, and it worked perfectly!

    Let me know if you have any questions — I know how important voicemails can be!

  12. avgjoe
    I tried to save my wife’s phone messages to her new MacBook Air so that she could upgrade to an iPhone without losing all her old message. My Skype couldn’t connect to Verizon voicemail correctly due to Skype DTFM issues (touch tone issues). I eventually had to use a paid service instead. So, for those who hit the same brick wall, consider http://www.savethatcall.com. It ended up costing me just a couple bucks which was worth it after wasting 3 hours trying to get around Skype’s DTFM problems.
  13. Julie D
    Hi there!
    Please help! My mailbox is full of my daughter’s messages and I can’t accept any more. I have followed the directions on saving voicemail on my Mac but haven’t quite figured it out. I downloaded Audacity, Soundflower and Skype.
    On your instructions for Audacity, I cannot find anywhere to select Soundflower as the recording device. I don’t know if this is my problem or not.
    When I call my cell phone from Skype and the greeting begins playing, I am unsure how to put in the sequence to access my voicemail. If I do it on the Skype keypad, it says it is not a valid phone number. On my phone (Verizon Droid) at that point, it just shows the incoming phone number, but the phone is no longer active. If I answer before the greeting, I don’t think I would be able to access voicemail as I would just be talking to myself through Skype, correct???
    I truly appreciate any help you can give me. I’ve been trying to figure out how to save these voicemails for months! Grrr! Thanks and have a nice week!
  14. clobird
    Hi there,

    So, I am sure I am doing something wrong, but seem to have done everything you’ve said, step-by-step, and the audio doesn’t seem to be recording. It’s moving, but doesn’t seem to be picking up the audio from Skype. No squiggles, just a flat line down the center. Any ideas on what I could be doing incorrectly? Thanks!

  15. Buck
    Thanks a bunch. I feel you need to have more details in the process through your step by step on how to open soundflowerbed. It’s pretty important in the process. I figured it out on my computer and hope this works for everyone. Go to the upper level search icon(magnifying glass) click on it. Type soundflowerbed. It should come up in writing. Click on it. The black flower should appear in the upper left corner by the wifi signal. Click on it built- in output. Should work. Also everything else you listed is amazing and has really helped me out. Thanks again.
  16. Susan
    Richard,
    I am able to get up to step 5 and call my cell phone from Skype and then key in my password for voicemail but it does not pick up the voicemail. The message is that the password is not valid. The password works fine on the cell phone just not from Skype.
    Do you have any suggestions?
    1. Richard K Miller Post author
      This has happened to me too, and I believe it’s a matter of the quality of the Skype connection not allowing the tones to be heard. Some things that have helped me are 1. to mute Skype; 2. try using the number keys on my keyboard, or (alternatively) try using the number keys on the Skype interface with the mouse; 3. make sure that when you’re entering your password, the key presses (and tones) are nice and long; 4. make sure there’s adequate space (silence) between each digit in your password, especially if your password includes repeated digits.
  17. aybaggsch
    Thanks for the great tips and instructions! I was able to save my vm messages before switching to the iphone and save a few bucks along the way.
    Keep sharing!
    1. Richard K Miller Post author
      @Danjarous, glad you got it figured out! I was going to say, it sometimes helps if I mute Skype when I’m pressing the dial pad buttons, or if I hang up and call back.
  18. Danjarous
    Richard – everything seems to be working fine…except after I dial “#” to enter voicemail retrieval, I then press my password on Skpe Dial Pad (and tried using keyboard) however the voicemail is not picking up the password numbers dialed.

    Suggestions?

  19. Roy
    Thank you VERY much for posting these instructions!!! I have 2 years of messages left by my daughter from age 1-3 years old that I was hoping to save before getting a new phone, they are saved!!! I can not thank you enough. I simply followed your instructions and have the information stored although I did not realize (or think about it) that noise I was making during the process was also being recorded, oops. I am going to record them again BUT I was curious if there was a setting to keep the audio ‘internal’. Regardless, I am incredibly happy. Thanks again!
  20. Richard K Miller Post author
    @Caitlin, did you find a solution? It sounds like you didn’t have Soundflower installed. You should see it as an audio device, both in Audacity and in System Preferences “Sound”.
  21. Caitlin Kelk
    Hi

    I tried doing this as well. In Audacity I am unable to change my preferences to the soundflower, as well as in my skype preferences. I only have the first 2 drop down options available. Please help! I only have 2 days before I lose these messages and they are harrassment messages that need to be kept!

    Thank you!

  22. Ken
    Great post. This worked for me, but if you don’t mind paying a few bucks, Call Recorder is a Skype plug-in that records Skype voicemails automatically.
  23. Richard K Miller Post author
    @Jeff, if I understand your question correctly, you could probably do this by reversing the settings above. I.e., set the Playback channel on Audacity (or wherever your messages are) to Soundflower. Set the Record channel on Skype to Soundflower. Then you can play the message from Audacity to Skype, and the person (or mailbox) on the other side of the line will hear it.
  24. Jeff
    Any ideas how you can create ‘canned’ vmails and then play them while leaving a message using skyp?
  25. JC
    I cannot thank you enough for providing this terrific information. Like others, have been trying to save very dear voicemails and was having no luck. Your solution worked perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
  26. Richard K Miller Post author
    @DoNaCo: Soundflower doesn’t open as a separate app, so things may be okay. Did you see the wave form of the recording? If it recorded okay, you’ll probably need to switch your audio settings back to “built-in” so you can hear the audio. Once you can hear the audio in Audacity, you should be able to export it. To export it as MP3, you’ll need to install the “Lame encoder” (see the Audacity website.) Alternatively, you can export it as a WAV file; it will just be larger in size.
  27. DoNaCo
    HELP!! i followed your directions…soundflower will not open as an active app, yet i am able to choose it as audio input and output for Skype and Audacity. now that i have done a test call, it looks like it recorded, but i can not hear sound, nor can i save it to an MP3 file!

    my Father has passed away, and i have a message on a cell carrier’s voicemail storage…desperately trying to copy the only recording i have of his voice…a wonderful last message to me.

    what do i do next?

    thanks for making this option available!

    1. PDH
      I had this problem initially too. I hope you solved it (and I know it was a while ago), but just in case anyone else is having this problem… Initially the soundflower folder was locked. Eventually I just went in through Finder and changed the options under “Get Info” so that everyone could read & write. I was then able to open the folder and then the program.
  28. Richard K Miller Post author
    @Sam, when I did this, I saved the MP3 file to my desktop, so I could make sure it was there. Then I dragged the MP3 file into iTunes. Does that work?
  29. Sam
    Hi Richard
    I have question. I feel I followed your instructions however the export stage (#9) for me appears unsuccessful. I went to file then my only choices where to “export wav” or “export mp3”. I saved it twice (once in wav and mp3) in to Itunes. I created a folder in ‘music’ and ‘pressed save’ for each voice mail (one in wav and one in Mp3 form). However I can not retrieve this folder. I did a search as well but it appears undetectable. I must admit I am a novice Macbook user but able to follow the instructions that you provided. Please help me. I would like to save my voice mails from audacity to Itune then unto a CD for playability.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  30. ida e
    Thank you so much for posting this. This will help me keep my memories off the limited space on my phone, and onto my mac!
  31. Kevin Miller
    Richard,
    Thank you for putting these instructions together. This is a great tip for that occasional important voicemail that needs to be saved.

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