Apple’s iPhone sports a revolutionary Visual Voicemail system, but the messages you receive are still stuck on your phone. With a cheap accessory and some free software, however, you can move them over to your Mac.
Every now and then a gem of a voicemail might find its way to your cell phone. It could be a drunken friend rambling about nonsense or perhaps something more sentimental. Whatever it may be, wouldn’t it be great if you could save and archive that audio on your computer to keep forever? You can! In fact, you can capture any sound coming out of your phone, including music, videos, etc.
Before we get started, there are a couple of things you’ll need to get the job done. First is a 3.5mm audio extension cable (available for less than $10 on Amazon.com). One end of this cable will plug into your iPhone’s headphone jack and the other will go in your Mac’s audio-in jack. The second thing is a free audio recording/editing program to install on your Mac. I’m a big fan of Audacity because it’s stable and easy to use, even for beginners. With those two requirements out of the way, we’re ready to go!
- Since we’re recording audio from an outside source, we have to change the Mac’s sound input setting. Open up System Preferences and navigate to the Sound pane.
- Click on the Input tab and choose Line In from the list of devices. Make sure the Input Volume slider is all the way to the right.
- Go to Voicemail on your iPhone and get ready to select the message you want to capture.
- Back on your Mac, launch Audacity (or another similar program of your choice) and press the red Record button at the top.
- As quickly as possible, start playing the voicemail on the iPhone.
- You won’t hear anything since the sound is being piped into your Mac, but you should start seeing wavy audio signals in Audacity. When these stop and you see nothing but a straight horizontal line, you can press Audacity’s Stop button.
- Play back the message in Audacity to make sure everything worked as it should and then go to File > Export as WAV to save the file on your hard drive. Keep in mind it may take a few attempts to get the volume levels right at first.
Depending on your particular skill level, you may or may not be interested in more advanced methods of carrying out this process. I kept the tutorial basic for the sake of simplicity, but you could certainly go beyond what’s been written here.
For example, Rogue Amoeba Software offers a free Mac utility called LineIn which enables you to actually listen to your audio source (the iPhone) as it plays the voicemail through the computer. This is certainly a step up from watching sound waves moving on the screen. Additionally, you could download a program called Switch to convert your audio file into a number of formats once it’s been saved. Then you could even add voicemail messages to your iTunes library and sync them back to your iPhone for unrestricted listening.