Listen to Your Voicemail

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Telephone answering machines did not become widespread until the 1960s. At that time they were quite bulky machines and usually to be found only in offices.

To close out 2015, we want to leave you the way we started it: with one of our favorite Gizmodo stories from writer Leslie Horn (she's now at Deadspin). It starts out like this:

"My mother is untrainable. At least, as far as voicemail is concerned. We'd repeat the same song and dance over and over. Me: Stop leaving me voicemails.Her: I don't understand. This went on for years, until I figured out she was right all along."

Listen above to hear a story of mourning, family, and a piece of technology that – love it or hate it – still has the capacity to connect us in ways texts, emails, and all the rest just can't. It's a podcast ode the humble voice recording.

After we aired this episode the first time, many of you said that you, too, have voicemails you'd like to save. Here's an updated (and admittedly not comprehensive) guide on how to do that:

A really easy way:

  • Play your voicemail on speakerphone in front of a tape recorder, or recording software on your computer (Audacity is free to download), phone or tablet. Listen to make sure you can understand it. There. Done. (Pro: simple. Con: not the best quality.)

Some pretty easy way(s):

  • If you have a newer iPhone, you can save your voicemail as a voice memo or note. (Pro: easy, good sound quality. Con: takes up space on your phone.)
  • Treat your computer like a set of headphones for your phone. You'll need a male-to-male cord auxiliary cable (available at most electronics stores). Plug that into your phone's headphone jack on one end, and put the other end into the "line-in" outlet on your computer. Use whichever recording software you like (again, Audacity is free), hit play on the phone, and press "record" on the computer. (Pro: good sound quality. Con: you have to buy a cable.)
  • Use an app. There are several third-party apps (you can try iMazingPhoneViewecamm, or, straight to the point, Voicemails Forever or Everlasting Voice). They let you look at the device's data on your computer desktop, then you can save whichever files you'd like. (Pro: Best sound quality possible. Cons: they cost money, it can be hard to find the exact file you want.)

For the future:

  • Set up a voicemail-to-email service like Google Voice or YouMail and sync it with your phone. Have all of your voicemails emailed to you as mp3s. 

We always want you to leave us a voicemail or a voice memo! Our number is (917) 924-2964.

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Music Playlist

  1. Sufficient

    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
    Label: BWN
  2. National Waltzing

    Artist: Justin Asher, ASCAP
    Label: BWN Catalog
  3. Quiet Smile

    Artist: Cullen Fitzpatrick, ASCAP
    Label: BWN Music
  4. Recast

    Artist: Michael Berry
    Label: BWN Music
  5. Parrots

    Artist: Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
  6. Toy Horseride

    Artist: Jack Ventimiglia
    Label: BWN Music