How to set up and use Live Voicemail on iOS 17 | Cult of Mac

Use Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers together for call-free bliss


Talk After The Beep
Don’t want to miss those important calls about my Lightning cable wholesaling business.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

With Live Voicemail, a new feature in iOS 17, you don’t need to pick up your iPhone midcall to see who’s calling or what they want. You can see a transcription of their voicemail message as it’s being recorded — and pick up at any point, if the call turns out to be important. This feature proves transformative for introverts who only want to answer a phone call if strictly necessary.

Even better, Live Voicemail pairs very well with another iOS feature, Silence Unknown Callers. With both of these turned on, unwanted calls will be far less intrusive, but you will still be able to pick up the important calls as they come in.

Here’s how to use Live Voicemail to avoid phone spam and other annoyances without missing crucial calls.

How to use Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers

Note: Live Voicemail is a feature of iOS 17. If you bought a new iPhone 15, you’ve got it already. Otherwise, head to Settings > General > Software Update to get the latest version of iOS. Upgrading should take about 20 minutes after downloading, so make sure you don’t start it at a bad time.

It’s also currently exclusive to the United States and Canada, though I expect the feature to roll out to other countries over time.

Table of contents:

  1. Turn on Live Voicemail in Settings > Phone
  2. Send a call to Live Voicemail
  3. Send unknown callers straight to voicemail
  4. Find voicemails in Phone

1. Turn on Live Voicemail in Settings > Phone

Turning on Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers in Settings
Turn on both of these features for maximum effect.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Live Voicemail should be turned on by default in iOS 17. Make sure it’s turned on by going to Settings > Phone > Live Voicemail.

2. Send a phone call to Live Voicemail

Live voicemail on iOS 17: “Hey Griffin listen I think the deal is off I am I'm not feeling too good about this lightning cable, wholesaling, business, call mothers, intuition or something”
Figure out whether an incoming call is important enough to pick up or not.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

When a call comes in, you can tap the Voicemail button. You’ll see “Waiting…” as the caller decides whether to leave a message.

If they leave a message, you’ll see a live transcription as they speak. At any point, you can tap Accept to pick up the call. (If your phone is locked, slide to answer the call.) You also can tap Message to send a text to the caller.

3. Send unknown callers straight to voicemail

Enabling Live Voicemail lets me confidently reenable Silence Unknown Callers (find it in Settings > Phone). This feature automatically declines phone calls from people outside your contacts and recent call history. I was never comfortable enabling this feature before, since there was always that slim chance that I would miss an important call.

With both Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers enabled, spam calls won’t be so intrusive, but you’ll easily be able to pick up the calls you actually don’t want to miss.

4. Find your voicemails in Phone

If you want to listen to the voicemail again or ring the caller back, go to Phone > Voicemail. Tap on any voicemail in the list. You can see a full transcript, play the message, delete it or tap the phone button to give them a callback.

Once you set up and use Live Voicemail once, you’ll want to use it all the time. You can see which calls are worth the intrusion before you even pick up.

More iOS 17 tips

Want even more iPhone tips? Read about more new features in iMessage, FaceTime and Phone or check out our master list of iOS 17 features.


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