Over the past few years Voice over IP (VoIP) has continually grown as a viable option for a home telephone line. Each new VoIP provider tries to compete by providing many of the same services for less money that current telephone providers offer to their customers. This guide will show you how to get more telephone services and for FREE by making your Mac (or PC) into a telephone.
To get started turning your Mac into a telephone we’ll need a few free services and software.
First, you’ll need a GrandCentral.com account and phone number. Grandcentral.com is a website that provides a New Way To Use Your Phones and was recently purchased by Google. GrandCentral.com offers an amazing amount of phone services to its customers and all for free. We’ll discuss these features later in the article.
Second, you’ll need to download Gizmo from gizmoproject.com and create an account. Gizmo, when combined with Grandcentral.com features is what turns your Mac (or PC) into a powerful and free telephone.
Creating an account with both is free and simple.
GrandCentral.com is still in Beta but you can already reserve a phone number for your area and sign up for the beta. Like many of the other beta products that Google has, invites are given to its current beta user so you can share the service with others once you gain access. Post in the comments if you’d like us to send you an invite. Once you have a GrandCentral.com account and phone number you can start taking advantage of some of its many features including:
- Screen Callers – Know who’s calling and screen unknown callers
- ListenIn – Hear why someone is calling before taking the call
- Call Record – Record calls on the fly and access recordings online
- Block Callers – Unwanted callers won’t be able to reach you anymore
- Notifications – Receive voicemail notifications via email or SMS
- Ring Different Phones – One number that rings different phones based on who’s calling
- Greetings -Personalize your voicemail greetings by caller or group
- RingShare – Go beyond the ring and choose ringback tones for your callers
- WebCall Button – Let people call you from a web page without showing your number
- CallSwitch -Switch phones in the middle of a call
- Click2Call – Call from your addressbook and save your typing
- Mobile Access -Visual voicemail for your mobile phone
As you can see, many of the services that are offered to GrandCentral.com users include technologies that no VoIP or Telephone company can offer. I personally love the ability to switch phones (from my Mac to my mobile phone to my wife’s mobile phone) in the middle of my conversation, and the visual voicemail features that can be accessed from anywhere I can log on to the Internet.
Head over to gizmoproject.com to download a free copy of Gizmo for your Mac. The Mac version is currently at version 3.1 and works great in both OSX 10.4 and 10.5. Gizmo is a lot like Skype but has the capability to receive calls from normal telephones by using your GrandCentral.com phone line for free.
After you’ve downloaded and installed Gizmo you need to follow a few steps to tie your new GrandCentral.com phone line to your computer:
- Open Gizmo and login to your new account.
- After the Gizmo client has connected, click Account from the Menu bar, and then My Profile
- Copy your SIP Number before the @ symbol and login to GrandCentral.com
- Click the Settings tab once logged into GrandCentral.com and click the Add/Edit Number link
- For the new line, select Gizmo from the drop down list and enter in the SIP number you copied from your Profile.
- Be sure to check “all callers” so that all calls to your GrandCentral.com number will ring your computer.
- Save the changes and prepare to test out our new phone line.
RECEIVING YOUR FIRST CALL
Now that we’ve tied Gizmo to your GrandCentral.com phone number, pick up your current landline or cell phone and call your new GrandCentral.com phone number. Your Computer’s Gizmo client should start ringing and let you know that a call is incoming. Click Answer Call and start your conversation by using the microphone built into your Mac. Click Hang Up on Gizmo when you’ve finished your conversation to end the call.
CALL YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND MORE FOR FREE
Unlike many other free VoIP computer clients, the combination of Gizmo and Grandcentral.com allows you to make UNLIMITED CALLS to normal phone lines for free. There is no restrictions on who, when, or how you call people. To make an outgoing call to any landline or mobile phone login to Grandcentral.com, click your Address Book and either enter in a new contact with their phone number or click the CALL BUTTON next to a contact you’ve already added. Select your Gizmo line and GrandCentral will call you and connect you to the number you’re calling.
Having to navigate to the website to make a call can be a few too many steps for you, but you can always follow our tutorial on how to make dashboard widgets with Safari to create a widget of your GrandCentral.com address book. Then making a call is just 2 clicks away.
Although GrandCentral.com + Gizmo offer an outstanding number of features, the service does lack some capabilities that you’ve grown accustom to with traditional phone services, such as 3 way calling. But, for most of the traditional phone features you can find a way around it. For example, if while in the middle of a conversation on your new MacPhone you decide you need to make a 3 way call you can use the Call Switch feature to send the conversation your having to your cell phone and use your mobile services to call the 3rd party.
Additionally, you may want more of an actual phone to replace your landline. You can pick up most Wifi capable phones and set it up with Gizmo to allow you to receive free incoming and outgoing calls from your GrandCentral.com account.
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