Subscribe to MacYourself via RSSFollow MacYourself on Twitter

Transfer voicemail messages from your iPhone to your computer

Transfer voicemail messages from your iPhone to your computer

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 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Go to Voicemail on your iPhone and get ready to select the message you want to capture.
  4. Back on your Mac, launch Audacity (or another similar program of your choice) and press the red Record button at the top.
  5. As quickly as possible, start playing the voicemail on the iPhone.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Tags: , ,

18 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

I bought the adapter and my mac said it cant read that device. Any tips? I need this for legal purposes. I have a g4 running 10.4.11. iphone is 3G. HELP PLEASE!

Does this only work with iphone to a MAC or can this system work with another computer ie: a DELL?

With all do respect, this is the worst iphone tip or trick I’ve ever seen. I was expecting a utility or an itunes patch to give you access to the voicemails.

This article pretty much tells you all you need:

Are you sure you have the correct cable plugged into the audio-in port on your computer? There shouldn’t be any difficulty with reading devices.

Yes, you can also use this method on a Windows PC, but there may be a few changes in the process. Audacity is cross-platform software, though, so you should be able to do it by following these basic instructions.

I’m sorry to hear the tutorial wasn’t what you were expecting. Unfortunately, the method outlined in the article you linked to requires jailbreaking your iPhone, which is something most people do not do. This was meant to be a solution anybody could use.

Look here for a way to download iPhone voicemails right to your Mac:

Seriously Madcow? Jailbreaking your phone is not the perfect solution to saving voicemail recordings.

Ant, Does the new iPhone 3Gs have any updates that can allow saving voicemails without extra equipment?

Unfortunately the 3GS doesn’t offer anything to make this process easier. Maybe in a future update… although I can’t imagine it’s high on Apple’s priority list.

Is there a reason not to use GarageBand instead of something like Audacity?

GarageBand will work just fine too. I probably should have mentioned that Audacity was just my personal choice and not something that is required.

You can record visual voicemails very easily with Apple’s Quicktime X. Just plug the audio cable into the iPhone audio jack and then into the (Mac) computer. Set audio preferences so that your computer is recognizing the Line In. Then fire up Quicktime and go to New Audio Recording. Hit record in Quicktime and then play in visual voicemail. When done save audio file (as .mov) to desktop – or wherever – and drag into your iTunes library. Done.

Audio Hijack Pro also has a line in function that allows you to record. Just did this with my Motorola flip phone and Macbook.

I decided to look for some software approaches to this problem, since I didn’t want to go get an audio cable. There’s the software in Ken’s post, and I also found a nice simple voicemail saving program at After watching the demo video, I decided to use the Decipher VoiceMail one and it works great!

thanks – worked great on my iPhone 4 to Mac Book Pro via Audio Hijack Pro. In this configuration, audio cranked up caused peaking and distortion, sounded great with input volume set to around 1/2 of full. Thanks!

Hey i was wondering how exactly you could adapt this process for a dell?


I have down loaded Audacity and Iphone connected..backed up. tried to import but it just opens the picture file on my iphone ? Do I need to plug something else in and do some other action?

Wow! lots of ideas on a simple solution. 1. get a 3.5mm plug
2. Plug one end into phone headset
3. other end into mic. on computer (pink port)
4. pull up sound recrder on PC
(all programs/accesories/sound recorder)
5. launch sound recorder(start recording)
6. play message on phone
7. press stop recording. (save file)
8. Done

awesome!!!! love it!!! thank you so much

Followed the directions and the app is recording live not picking up the iPhone messages but is picking up a live recording of conversations and background noises in the room.