How to Do Text Forwarding with Google Voice

Forward Google Voice Messages to SMS/Your Cellphone

Google Voice just turned off “message forwarding to linked numbers” and yeah, that’s a big deal. Thanks a lot, Google. But there are some workarounds — less than ideal, but workarounds — that I’ve yet to see written up so it’s not quite time to give up on Voice.

Why GV Message Forwarding to Linked Numbers Is a Big Deal

Voice used to be a fantastic utility layer you could add to your cellphone. Instead of giving out your true phone number, you could give out a Google Voice number, and use it to route intelligently all your texts and calls. Want your texts to go to your brother’s phone when you’re in class, but not on weekends? Sure. Want your incoming calls to ring three burners but not before 8 AM? No problem. And if your phone number changes, all you have to do is update the setting in Google Voice — no more spamming your friends with your new number.

Well, Google just shut down the whole text message part of the picture. No more message forwarding to other numbers. As you probably know, this is exquisitely painful because now you don’t get texts immediately if you don’t have wifi or data. You can have tons of bars but GV refuses to send texts to your cell number. Just ridiculous. How is GV a complete service without timely texts?


The #1 Google Voice Text Forwarding Fix Is… Gmail

As many have noted on Reddit and Androidpolice and elsewhere, you can get Voice to forward your incoming text messages to email. So… that’s nice. Wouldn’t it be nicer if you could get your email to autoforward those messages to your cellphone? Wouldn’t that do the same damned thing as what Voice was doing in the first place?

Kind of. It’s uglier. A lot uglier. And you can’t reply to it to get a message back to the sender. But at least you’ll get the message and know that something urgent is going down, even if you have a bad data connection.

Anyhow, here’s the trick.

  1. First, find out what the email address is for your cellphone. “Email address for my cellphone huh?” you may be asking. Yeah, the email for your phone. Almost all providers have an email address for each customer, like; emails sent to that address will be converted to texts and delivered to the customer. Here’s an article on the topic that has a handy list of email formats for popular carriers. If you use an MVNO, try the format for the carrier that your MVNO licenses from. Email your phone to make sure it’s working.
  2. In Google Voice, go to Settings > Messages and turn on “Forward messages to email.”
  3. Assuming you use Gmail, switch to Gmail. (If you don’t use Gmail, that’s okay; you just need to do these same steps with your mail provider’s forwarding rules.)
  4. In the inbox, type “” into the Search mail box at the top. If your message forwarding to email hasn’t kicked in yet, you may not find anything, but that’s ok. Now click the goofy settings icon to the right of the X button in the search bar and click Create Filter in the dropdown that appears.
  5. Next to “Forward it to” is a link to “Add a forwarding address”. That’s the stuff. Click that and put in the email address for your phone. Google Voice will require you to authenticate.
  6. Once authenticated, click the “Forward it to” checkbox and choose the email address for your phone. Click “Create filter” and you are almost done.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 6 for the search ““. This is the email address that Google Voice uses to notify you of group texts. You won’t get the actual content, but at least you’ll know when your buddies are trying to get you for a hang.
  8. OPTIONAL: SteveTN writes, “Problem I have found is that the forward to my mobile number from Gmail is usually not immediate. I have texts that take over a half hour.” This is a good point. Gmail is not exactly snappy. Suggestion: use your own outgoing mail server! If you have a website (and who doesn’t?), use that mail server. If not, you can sign up for a SMTP email service. (Sendinblue’s forever free basic plan sends 300 emails per day; that should cover you, right?) Then just go to Gmail’s settings > Accounts and click on “edit info” for the account you’re using to send your messages.

Is this anywhere as clean as the original Google Voice message forwarding? Hell no. You’ll have stupid formatting and all the extra text that Google Voice puts in its email notifications, and as I mentioned before, replying to these texts via text is pointless. But at least you won’t be in the dark if your data craps out and your friends are desperately trying to reach you.

The #2 Google Voice Text Fix is… TextNow

The alternate fix is, well, ugly but cheap. TextNow is a new service that gives you real, free voice and text service on the T-Mobile network. You buy a SIM card for $5 and off to the races. It’s ad-supported and calls default to network (VOIP) if you’re on wifi. As you’ve probably guessed, they charge a LOT for data so see fix #3 if that’s a killer.

So what’s the fix for the Google Voice text forwarding mess? Get TextNow and tell your friends to use that number to text you but use your real number for calls. If you don’t want to carry two phones (and there are some really tiny secondary phones out there fyi), get a phone that has two SIM slots so you can get messages from both of your numbers on your phone.

Yeah, yeah, it sucks. This fix might work for you but honestly you’re probably just better off with solution #3.

Google Voice Text Forwarding Fix #3: Go MVNO

It might be time to give up on GV. This is really the worst-case scenario but now that phone number portability is a given, it’s okay. I’d hate to give up the ability to send texts from my computer and access voicemail and texts from any device, but at this point that’s the only feature I’m really loving.

You doubtlessly already have service somewhere. Consider switching to an MVNO for the best deals. The biggies – Verizon, T-Mo, AT&T – all charge ridiculous rates for brand recognition. MVNOs sell access to the same cell networks but slap on their own support and UX, and the big win is a monthly rate of about $12-30 per month depending on how much data you need. If you can live with a data cap (you can, you’re on wifi all the time) this could save you $900+ a year.


Join the Conversation


  1. I’ve tested this out when it was first announced that Google Voice would stop forwarding texts to mobile numbers. Problem I have found is that the forward to my mobile number from Gmail is usually not immediate. I have texts that take over a half hour before Gmail forwards them to my mobile number. That kind of defeats the entire reason of forwarding in the first place.

  2. That’s definitely a downside. It’s been working well for me lately but it’s certainly jankier than before.
    The delay could be on your cell provider’s email processing. Also worth noting: I’m using my shared hosting mail server for outgoing mail :) THAT could be a big factor. I’m gonna add that to the post.
    Of course, Voice itself sometimes seems to have outages where messages are delayed, too.
    Thanks, SteveTN!

  3. I’m not sure using a separate outgoing mail server is going to fix the problem. At least it didn’t for me. I signed up for a Sendinblue free account, and setup it up as a second “Send mail as” in the Gmail Settings – “Account and Import”. I even made it my default sending address. The problem is the filters don’t use the “default” address for forwarding, but rather the original address. It even states that in the Gmail Help article “Send emails from a different address or alias” (, Your recipients might also see your original address if you: Create a filter with automated response.

    I know it wasn’t my cell provider’s email processing because I was able to get immediate text responses when sending an email directly to ********** through different email clients and using the Sendinblue SMTP server without using the filter. For some reason the filter puts the brakes on forwarding to the text email address. Yesterday I had messages that didn’t get forwarded to my text number for over 6 hours.

    Finally, I did get it to work almost immediately by having the Gmail filter forward the message to a different email address (not text number address), then wrote a rule on that email client to forward to my ********** email address. I just wish Google Voice let you cut out the Gmail middle man, and let you forward to a verified email address of your choosing, as they do in Gmail itself.

  4. Thank you. It is a bit slow, but it does work. I set it up in Outlook on my computer, as a rule. That way I can turn it off and on when I am out or at home. The only issue with this method is that my computer needs to be on. If I go on a trip, I will use the filter method on Gmail.

    In any case, the issue I do not like is getting the Google Voice email as a text, as the text is mix in with all of the google email sends- However, at least I can get txts again from my Google voice account

    Thank you for the advise.

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