The (almost) Perfect Solution to Using Google Voice on your Mac

There is no secret here. I love Google Voice. There is so much you can do with the free service! I use it as a second phone line for my cell phone. I manage all my voicemails through it. I also use it to filter telemarketers, as I explained in this earlier post. But yet, there are still some limitations. It hasn’t been so easy to use it as a soft phone right from my computer. You need to get logged into your Gmail account, then pop open the soft phone from Google Chat, then dial your number. It’s seriously much easier to pick up my cell phone and just dial…and that’s not what I want.

I want to keep my headphones on as I work at my computer and call someone

So my search started. I tried to find a program in the Mac app store to solve my problems. I came across Growl Voice (Mac only) which puts a icon in the menu bar lets you access your voicemails with one click. It’s amazing! It supports multiple Google Voice accounts, gives notifications for new voice mails, and even lets you text right from the app. I highly recommend getting it…except it’s missing one key feature: You can’t make direct phone calls from it. It allows you to dial a number and then choose which connected phone to connect the call with. If you want to use Google Chat, the program needs to be open and running…so it doesn’t solve the problem. If you have it call your cell phone…well…that doesn’t help either.

After searching the net over and over looking for a dedicated Mac program I stumbled upon some blog posts about Chrome extensions that work with Google Voice. Most of them do just what Growl Voice does so they are pointless…except for one: Chat for Google. This is the exact solution I was looking for and more…in a simple Chrome extension.

Above: Growl Voice & Chat for Google menu bar icons. Below: Highlighted Call/Chat windows

Chat for Google keeps an icon in your menu bar and always has a chat window/call window open and docked in the lower right hand corner. The top image shows the chat/call windows highlighted, but when not in use the minimize further and are almost invisible. You can undock it of course, keep only the call window or just the chat window open. It will even stay docked if you exit the Chrome browser. Thats right, it keeps Chrome running in the background allowing easy access to the call window. The bonus is that you can also start video chats and hangouts from this extension also. It’s super awesome! It’s an (almost) perfect solution only because I need to use Growl Voice and Chat for Google as my computer solution for Google Voice. I hope to see this integrated into one program in the future but it makes this guy happy.

If you’re reading this in Chrome check it out right here: Chat for Google

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