What to Know

  • For a generic greeting go to Phone > Voicemail > Set Up Now > create a password > Default > Save.
  • To record a custom message go to Phone > Voicemail > Set Up Now > create a password > select Custom > Record > Stop.
  • For both options, tap Play to listen to the greeting, and tap Save when you're satisfied with the recording.

This article walks you through the process of setting up your voicemail on iPhone 12, shows you how to access visual voicemail, and provides tips for managing your voicemail box.

A woman checking voicemail on an iPhone.

How to Setup Your Voicemail on iPhone 12

One of the first things you'll probably want to do when you get your iPhone 12 is to get your voicemail setup. The good news is that if you've set up voicemail on an iPhone before, this is still the same process. If you're new to iPhone, however, a quick tutorial is in order.

  1. To get started, go to the Phone app on your iPhone 12.

  2. Tap the Voicemail icon. This looks like two circles, connected by a straight line at the bottom.

  3. If it's the first time you're accessing voicemail, you'll see an option to set up your voicemail. Tap Set Up Now to begin the set up process.

  4. When prompted, create a voicemail password. The password requirements will vary by carrier.

    Choose a password that you'll be able to remember. If you forget your password, there is no way to reset it from your iPhone. Instead, you'll need to contact your service carrier to have them reset it.

  5. Then you'll be prompted to choose or create a greeting. You can choose Default or Custom.

    • Default: The default greeting that prompts the caller to leave a message.
    • Custom: A greeting you can custom record with the information you would like to include.

    If you choose Custom tap Record to begin recording your greeting. When you're finished, tap Stop. If you want to review the voicemail, tap Play to listen to the greeting your recorded.

  6. When you're satisfied with your voicemail message, tap Save to complete the voicemail setup process.

How Does Your Carrier Affect Your Voicemail Settings?

In the past, some mobile service carriers had different instructions for setting up voicemail, so how you set the service up depended on the carrier which provided your mobile service. Modern cellphones have built in voicemail applications, so setting up voicemail is pretty consistent across carriers.

Is iPhone Voicemail the Same as Visual Voicemail?

You may see voicemail on your iPhone 12 referred to as Visual Voicemail. Visual Voicemail is voicemail with a graphical interface, like a voicemail app. It allows you to see and select your voicemail messages, so you don’t have to listen to them in the order they were received. You can, instead, listen to your voicemails in the order you prefer, skipping around, and even not listening to messages, if you prefer.

Visual Voicemail is available on nearly all US mobile service carrier networks, so it's likely to be the default voicemail for your iPhone 12.

If you want to double-check if Visual Voicemail is available from your carrier, Apple maintains a list of service providers that support the feature.

How to Set Up Visual Voicemail Transcription on iPhone 12

Like Visual Voicemail, most US carriers also support voicemail transcription, which is available on iPhone 12. To access a transcript of a voicemail on your device follow these instructions:

  1. Start by opening the Phone app on your iPhone 12.

  2. Tap Voicemail.

  3. The first time you tap any recent voicemail, the app will begin transcribing the message. After a few seconds, the transcription should load on the voicemail page.

    If you notice blank lines in the transcription (__), those are missing words that were not able to be transcribed due to the message being garbled or unclear.

  4. Once the transcription is complete, you can tap the Share button to send the voicemail transcription via AirDrop, Mail, or iMessage.

Managing Your iPhone 12 Voicemail

There may come a time that you need to change your voicemail password or greeting. Or maybe you hate the default voicemail notification sound and want to change it. All are easy options to adjust.

  • To change your voicemail greeting: Go to Phone > Voicemail and tap Greeting. Then follow the prompts to change the greeting.
  • To change your voicemail password: Go to Settings > Phone > Change Voicemail Password and then enter the new password you want to use.
  • To change voicemail notification sounds: Go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > New Voicemail then select the sound you want to use from the Alert Tones options.
  • To make a call from a voicemail: Tap a voicemail to open it and then tap the Call Back option.
  • To delete a voicemail: Tap a voicemail to open it and then tap Delete. Be aware that some carriers may immediately delete a voicemail completely, so if it's something you think you might want to get back, you should not delete it.


  • Why does my iPhone say voicemail is unavailable?

    There are a number of things that could cause your voicemail to stop working on your iPhone. Check for a new iPhone update and install it if one is available. Try restarting your iPhone to see if that helps. Check your voicemail box to see if it's full, and delete some messages to free up space if so.

  • How do I turn off voicemail on my iPhone?

    The most direct way to turn off your iPhone's voicemail is to contact your service provider and requesting to have your voicemail shut down. Some providers also allow you to temporarily stop voicemails from going through by dialing a specific short code, but it won't work with all carriers. Open the Phone app and type in #004#, then select the phone icon to dial. You may or may not receive a message stating that call forwarding has been deactivated, but even if you do it may not have worked depending on the carrier (try calling yourself to see if you get sent to voicemail). If this method does work, turn voicemail back on by opening the Phone app and calling *004#.

  • Why do calls to my iPhone go straight to voicemail?

    It's possible that your carrier settings need to be updated, but the more likely causes are that your iPhone is unable to find a cellular signal or that Do Not Disturb has been turned on.