Screen Phone Calls with Live Voicemail

Do you remember when homes used to have an answering machine attached to their land phone lines?  The primary use was to allow people to leave a message.  However, another use was to screen calls where you would monitor the answering machine as someone was leaving a message.  If it turned out to be someone you wanted to talk to you could simple pick up the call. 

The iPhone and IOS 17 now brings you a similar capability  using a function called Live Voicemail.  

With Live VoiceMail enable, when a call you receive goes to voicemail, you will see a live transcript of the message as it’s being recorded by the caller.  This gives you immediate information from the caller and the topic of the call.  If it’s something you want to address right then or a caller you want to talk to, you can pick up the call while the caller is still on the line.  Just like your answering machines of a generation ago.  


Turn on Live Voicemail

A simple switch in settings will turn on Live Voicemail.  Here are the steps:

  1. Launch Settings  and scroll down to tap Phone.
  2. Tap on Live Voicemail 
  3. Tap the Live Voicemail switch to turn it on.  (Green is on.)


How it Works.

Your iPhone rings with an incoming call.  If your call is announced with the banner on the top of the screen, tap the banner to go to a full page display as shown to the right.

  1. Tap Voicemail.  Do not tap on Decline although this will send the caller to voice mail it will not allow you to access Live Voicemail.
  2. Watch the transcript of the message.  If the iPhone was locked as the phone call was received, you will need to tap to view the transcript.   The caller will not know that you are watching and cannot hear you.
  3. If you wish to talk with the caller, tap Accept to connect live with the caller.  If the iPhone was locked as the phone call was received, you will use the Slide to Answer slider to go live.  
  4. Talk with the caller like a regular call, ending the call as 


You can choose to have incoming calls display full screen rather than the banner at the top of the screen.  You may find the Live Voicemail steps more accessible from the full screen.  Make this choice in Settings> Incoming Calls > Full Screen

Using Face ID or Touch ID to unlock you phone will make this process easier.  Find information here:

How to Set Up and Use Face ID to Secure your iPhone

Setting Up Passcodes and Touch ID


Many of us see frequent calls from telemarketers.  You prefer not to talk to telemarketers but you also don’t want to miss important callers you you may not recognize from Caller ID.  Live Voicemail will allow you to screen those calls.  


Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

iPhone User Guide – Turn on Live Voicemail