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How to: Use Google Voice SMS with Hangouts

When Google finally introduced SMS into Hangouts, an immediate sadness overcame the Google Voice users in the building, as the apps aren’t officially ready to work together. In fact, Google has said that full Google Voice integration is potentially months off and going to take time, because there are some security concerns that need to be addressed first. At the time of SMS launch into Hangouts, only Sprint SMS and Google Voice integration was officially compatible, though we’re pretty sure that T-Mobile customers can now join in on the fun.

What if I told you that wasn’t 100% true and that any Google Voice user can at least send and receive SMS through Hangouts? Whether you answer that or not, I’m here to tell you that you can. Here is how it works. 

Note – Before we start, I should point out that this is somewhat of a work-around, but does indeed work. Google Voice seems to want to assign a unique phone number whenever you text an individual and then re-route it to the recipient under your Google Voice number, so what we are doing here is attaching that unique phone number to your contact and then sending and receiving messages via it. That may sound confusing for now, but it’ll make more sense in a minute.

Instructions (initial setup)

*In order to get Hangouts up and running with your Google Voice number, you’ll need to at least do the following:

  • Install and setup Google Voice. [Play Link]
  • Install the latest version of Hangouts. [Play Link]
  • Have friends and contacts already texting your Google Voice number.

1.  Open your Google Voice app, enter Settings and tap Sync and Notifications.
2.  You want to make sure that under Notifications, you are receiving text messages “Via the messaging app.”

*If you have that set to receive text messages “via Google Voice,” this won’t work.

3.  Open Google Hangouts, tap the top right action overflow menu, choose Settings and then SMS.
4.  Make sure SMS is turned on.

*If you are on Kit Kat, you’ll have to work through the option of changing Hangouts to becoming your default SMS app. If you are running anything below Kit Kat simply check the box to “Turn on SMS.”

hangouts sms voice1

5.  Now, ask a friend to send you a text message to your Google Voice number or wait until one arrives.

Instructions (sending and receiving SMS)

*If setup properly using the steps from above, then when a SMS comes in, you should now see the notification via Hangouts. Feel free to open it. The problem with this message is that it will likely arrive as a random phone number (mentioned above) that is unassigned to any of your contacts even though it came from someone you know who is already in your address book or People app. You may see the person’s name involved in the SMS somehow (like in the body of the message), but you won’t see the number actually attached to anyone. It’s as if a brand new phone number has sent you a text, yet somehow knows in the body who it was sent from.

Congrats, you have now integrated your Google Voice number into Hangouts. Well, almost. That’s kind of a solution, however, in your list of conversations you will see the random number show up instead of the person’s name, which can make carrying on conversations quite difficult.

The good news is that we have a solution for that as well. We’re going to add that random number (which happens to be a unique number to that contact) to your contact, so that it shows up correctly in your list of conversations. We should point out that when your first SMS message arrives for each contact using this setup, you will have to walk through this second set of instructions. Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple.

1.  When a text message arrives, you will see the random number we talked about, along with the name of the sender.
2.  Tap on the pulldown menu at the top of the screen which lists the random number.
3.  You should see the option to “Add to People.”

hangouts sms voice2

4.  Find the contact you want to add this random number to and save the number to it.

*Since this number is probably only going to be used through Hangouts and hopefully gone in the near future when we don’t need to use this work-around anymore, feel free to label it with a custom tag like “GV” or “Hangouts” or something. That should help you delete it later on when you no longer need it, but it will also help you decide which number to pick when sending an SMS to someone. You can do that in your contacts, next to the number in the pulldown menu that usually defaults to “mobile.”

5.  Once you have saved the number to your existing contact, head back into Hangouts.

hangouts sms voice4

6.  Find the message that you received and you should now see the contact name up at the top along with the phone number.
7.  You should also see the conversation listed in your Hangouts list under the contact name.
8.  Repeat every time a new person sends you a text message.
9.  Enjoy using Hangouts with SMS and Google Voice.

Going forward, should you archive or delete a conversation, you’ll want to use the saved random number to initiate an SMS conversation with someone. This is where that labeling during the contact save comes in really handy.

All that make sense? I know that seemed like a lot of work, but once you do it a time or two, you’ll find that it’s incredibly simple to setup. You should be on your way to using Google Voice with SMS in no time.

  • AC

    This does not work for users who do not have a fee text plan. Yes I am not supporting the idea to pay for text to AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. I have Google Voice and I use Hangouts and configured both as the article suggested but THIS DOES NOT WORK!!! (I am a Verizon user, with Samsung GS4) No SMS can be sent or received so this might be OK so some but not everyone……. The author needs to clarify it.

  • Matthew Glen Evans

    Is there any way to make it not display the contact’s name (or number) in the body of the text? Once you’ve stored their random GV number to your contacts, having their name in the message body is redundant. I’ve looked all over and can’t find a way to get rid of it.

  • David Wooderson

    Nice workaround and write-up, but the random number for contacts is a deal killer for me, I have way to many contacts, and I can’t ask them, “who is this” all the time. I guess I’ll just have to wait for something official.

  • Greg Young

    The biggest issue I’ve had is that it doesn’t do well with support of MMS. It never sends, never receives– just tells me to download it. I’ve gone through all the troubleshooting and eventually went back to my stock SMS app :

  • Erik Zamora

    I have Sprint with GV integration, so no problem with contacts and numbers etc. However, Hangouts has a very small character limit and I would run out of space. Went back to stock messaging app shortly thereafter.

  • ferrari187

    very nice layout and design of the article

  • Anthony DeFrancesco

    interesting enough, it is the exact same number google voice uses when you call that contact.

  • jaredgreenwald

    Not sure this works if you don’t have an SMS plan… I only use GV to send/receive texts and I cannot seem to get this to work. I exclusively give out my GV number rather than my mobile number just for the purposes of people who prefer texting. I set this up and “ignored” about 10 texts due to something breaking down. Maybe I’m not doing it correctly, but I also just got a new phone. My previous phone was a GNex running CM10.3 and they have a helper app that joins hangouts/messaging with GV seamlessly.

    • All this does is forward your texts to your phone. Therefore this will use your SMS plan.

      • jaredgreenwald

        I thought the point of using GV for texting was that you specifically *didn’t* need an SMS plan to use it. Shouldn’t *any* incoming GV message trigger an alert? The CM Google Voice SMS app does this pretty well.

        • This case isn’t so you don’t need a plan. This would be more if you want to use a second number. Examples of why could be: a girl giving her number out in a bar or a drug dealer having a number to give out…

          • jaredgreenwald

            So, I’ve been using it wrong all this time?

  • Anthony Haug

    I never realized its the integrated Google Voice with Sprint that allows me to send texts as my GV number instead of my Sprint Number. I was pretty sure it that the Hangouts app used GV app to pull that information (Crazy Number for texting) and converted it to my contact info. This way I don’t see the that crazy number. Because even with integrated GV I still saw that crazy number for persons texting me until I went into GV and changed the setting Receive text messages Via messaging app?

    Maybe i’m crazy for thinking that?

  • morgan boyle

    this is BS work around.
    1) i gotta add new numbers to all my friends?!? crazy town.
    2) i dont believe this will sync my replies with google voice and subsequently all my android devices.
    3) doesnt push to web browsers. this is what hangouts should do. sync ALL messages to all installs of hangouts. browsers, tablets, etc.

  • gintoddic

    MMS is totally broken in hangouts, so basically it’s useless as a txt app.

  • Sam

    All we need is free text, GV does that, now only if they add MMS to it. No need for Hangouts!

  • Cory_S

    Yeah, this has been around for a slong as GV has been. It is still just as poor of a solution as it was in the beginning too.

  • JP

    Ninja SMS is far and away the best texting app, and it already works with Google Voice so that’s all I need.

  • rthvk

    I see good ol’ Dr. Root (Tim S.) in that contact list of yours, Kellen. 😛

  • Frank Lopez

    hmm been doing this for over 5 years. lol good job i guess

    • Mike

      Yeah. Me too. I don’t know what the big deal is.

    • Droidzilla

      You’ve been SMS’ing with your GV number in Hangouts for 5 years? Mad skills, son.

  • Just_Some_Nobody

    Just so I’m clear. If I am in Hangouts and I text back to the random number (now associated with a particular contact), will my outgoing text be via GV or be counted against my paltry 200 monthly allotted text messages (I have an old grandfathered unlimited data plan that included 200 text messages)?

    • lookatmyfunnyusername

      it will count against the 200 but I’m also on unlimited and have been able to change my texting and minute plan without it effecting the data plan

      • Just_Some_Nobody

        Yeah, I have that option, but it’s more $. I don’t use more than 200 anyway. It’s just that I save those for people who don’t know how to text any other way.

  • Liderc

    How to use Google’s Hangouts/SMS: Don’t use it.

    Step 1. Download 8sms messaging.
    Step 2. Set as default messenger.
    Step 3. Stop being annoyed by Google Hangouts.

  • laheelahee

    yeah… this is why i use Kakao Talk

  • jrbmed08

    Maybe I’m missing something…but what’s wrong with just continuing to use the existing Google Voice app instead of Hangouts? I don’t have a texting plan, but I do have unlimited data, so I’ve actually had Verizon block SMS on my line to force people to text my Google Voice number. So this method doesn’t help people like me, but the Google Voice app works fine…well, not perfect as it sometimes doesn’t notify me of messages, but I always get the email notifications, and it’s better than paying for SMS, which I think is one of the biggest rip-offs in history. So why is SMS integration in Hangouts such a big deal when we can just keep using the Google Voice app?

    • Hothfox

      I think mostly because it’s ugly as sin and they want ALL their SMS messages in one place.. But I agree, Google Voice still works perfectly.

      • jrbmed08

        It is pretty fugly. Still, I’d rather use it than pay for SMS!

        • Hothfox

          True. I know it’s not the way for everyone, but a lot of plans now have unlimited calls and texts with limited data. The carriers realized data is where they can make money now.

    • Sam

      totally agree. in the same boat and using GV app.

    • Droidzilla

      I have places where the mobile data signal is total crap but the cell signal is strong, so using actual SMS makes for more reliable correspondence. Nice to have options.

      • jrbmed08

        Good point. But couldn’t you just use your cell number then? Since you’d be getting charged for the text, it makes GVoice texting unnecessary.

        • Droidzilla

          I use my GVoice number exclusively. My house has gone all Nexus, so this allows us to switch service providers on the fly (love prepaid) and not have to fiddle about porting phone numbers. Plus we get all calls, texts, voicemails (transcribed to boot), custom inboxes, etc. on the computer. All free. Google Voice is really a must have for us now.

          And since I’m contract free, almost every plan I get is unlimited minutes and text, so no worries on carrier charges.

    • RunnerTutt

      I agree, though the main reason I am intrigued is that Google Voice can’t handle MMS messages (group texts & picture texts). Am I missing something? Does this solve the problem of not receiving MMS messages sent to my GV number?

  • Dorian Brooks

    So what you guys are telling me is to KEEP USING Sliding Messaging for SMS for the foreseeable???

    • Luxferro

      That’s what I am doing too. I’ll wait for official support in hangouts… this is too much work ;p

    • p0k3y

      Thx for the pointer. Looks like a winner. Now only if it supports multiple GV accounts. Any app out there that supports that, other than the 1.99/mo Talkatone?

  • Bill Anderson

    PROBLEM: If you go into Hangouts and send a new SMS to someone you haven’t been communicating with, it will go out via your phone’s number, and not Google Voice. I have to send an initial message with the Google Voice app. Then, the reply will come into Hangouts and from that point on I can use Hangouts.

    • Steve B

      Yes, you just need to send the initial message from GV so that you can obtain the fake number that Google assigns your contact.

  • Franz

    Voice+ from CyanogenMod can integrate this much better.

    I really hope they can get Voice+ to work with Xposed Framework for people not using CyanogenMod.

    • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

      not everyone can afford to purchase cyanogenmod “FRANZ”

      • 4n1m4L

        Purchase cyanogen mod? What ?

        • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

          you have to pay to play my man

    • sc0rch3d

      oh man…i completely forgot about Voice+. I flashed back to CM 10.2 stable last night just for that feature (and consequently used the CM Installer, how ridiculously stupid easy that software is! 🙂 ). I looked for an APK…has someone been able to port it out?

    • Nathan Massouda

      Came here to say this. Thank you.
      I sent DL a tip about this a while ago but they never published anything about it, It’s stupid easy to set up and works without all this new number stuff.

      • Franz

        No problem.

        I was a huge CyanogenMod fan, but these days (Jellybean and higher) I usually run Stock (with root). So the Xposed Framework is pure genius. I love the concept.

  • trwb

    Doesn’t work if you have text messages disabled through your carrier. Doing it this way still uses your carriers network instead of data like Google Voice does right?

  • D.B.Evans

    This is just a poor-quality work-around, not a true solution. The problem still remains of Google Voice working on WiFi but SMS requiring a text plan and cell signal.

    The hangouts implementation of SMS isn’t even worth using in my opinion. I can understand wanting it to work; but when I tried it, I found the implementation to be half-arsed. When I asked my friends if they had tried it and if they liked it, they said that they had switched back to the OEMs SMS solution within a day – and I eventually did the same. So, I’m still using three apps depending upon my messaging needs (SMS, Google Voice, and Hangouts) … okay, technically some others too, but those are third-party messaging apps that I never expect to see integrated, so a bit off topic.

    Google has done a piss-poor job in their attempts to integrate anything with messaging.

  • Patrick Crumpler

    Thanks for the tip, but man that’s busy. Trying to hold on to google voice but such a pain.

  • Bill Murray

    Why not just use Voice+ from Cyanogen to allow any SMS app to send and receive SMS using Google Voice?

    • dazz1996

      not everyone runs cm this is how to do it with any android os

    • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

      cyanogen is thirsty

      • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

        hey what the screwdriver dont downvote me

    • brkshr

      Won’t that method only send texts through Hangouts from your Google Voice number?

      I like this way because I can send texts through my personal number and my Google Voice number.

      • Justin Swanson

        This! Especially when you’re not in the US but utilize a GVoice Number to text people in the US.

  • dazz1996

    Not working for me I don’t have texting from my carrier I only use Google voice for my number and texting. when I try
    this it only pops up in Google voice SGS4 Touch wizz 4.2.1. and I froze the stock texting app with titanium backup.

  • Justin W

    Y’all had me excited for a second, until i realized it was just forwarding the texts from Voice with a random unrecognized-by-my-contacts-list number through Voice 🙁

  • Caleb Martin

    Even though it’s going through the GV-generated number, wouldn’t the initial SMS still have to be sent from your actual phone number, thus costing you money if you don’t have a texting plan?

    • Justin W

      This would count against your texting plan if it’s not unlimited. Basically, what’s happening is Voice is forwarding all texts to the number of your choice, which is going to your default SMS app (which, in this case, is Hangouts). It’s not actually Hangouts/Voice integration, it’s just a roundabout way to get there.

      Also, the numbers usually won’t line up (texts will come from a random number and won’t be decoded by your contacts list).

      • TheDrizzle

        That’s why you add the random number to your contact. This was stated in the article.

        • Steve B

          Exactly. The random number will always be the same random number for each contact. Just save the random number for each contact.

        • Justin W

          The number changes though, or at least, I thought it did.

          • TheDrizzle

            Doesn’t seem to be changing. I would have though it would change too.

    • Inquizitor

      Exactly. This isn’t anything new, and just as impossible for someone like me (with no texting plan) as always.

    • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

      young man you are dying of thirst

      • TheDrunkenClam

        Did I miss a reference somewhere? Is the the latest meme?

        • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

          le drunken clam dae le family guy le le le rip brian such good show wow

    • TheDrizzle

      And it will also be from your phone number, not your Google Voice number. So they send you a text to your GV, and you send it back with another number. Not ideal. I want to send Voice texts from the Hangouts app.

      • Droidzilla

        Just tested it and my wife says the text she got has my GV number.

        • TheDrizzle

          Yup, I spoke too soon.

        • sc0rch3d

          I know this is an old article by now. I’m wondering how this works in relation to GV Chrome Extension where I can do PC texting while I’m at work. Does it sync those message back to hangouts as I’m sending/receiving them….?

          • Droidzilla

            Just tested and confirmed; yes it does.

    • brkshr

      You text them through your GV app. They text your GV# back and it shows up in your Hangouts app. Every text goes through data on your GV#.

    • In my testing, when replying to an incoming SMS in hangouts… it still appears on the other’s device as my GV number. So, it seems like its NOT going through the carrier’s SMS service.

      • TheDrizzle

        I think it goes through your carrier SMS to the google voice servers and they forward it on so it looks like it came from your GV number. So I think cell service is still needed.

  • Sambit Rayginale Willkonson

    kellex is so thirsty

  • Brandon Yang

    The only problem with this workaround is that Hangouts needs a cell signal to send SMS. However, Google Voice allows you to send SMS using wifi/data. Google Voice is a godsend when you have no cell reception (T-Mobile), but you have a wifi connection.

    • brkshr

      Just confirmed this. My GV texts through Hangouts are on my bill as a text messages. This is news to me.

      • Brandon Yang

        Yeah.. It’s a bummer 🙁

        • brkshr

          Turning that off now. I pay per text 🙁

          • David Wooderson

            Which is a crime, because sms messages from a network utilization perspective are tiny, practically non existent compared to voice calls, or worse, streaming video. It’s just a money thing at this point.

      • Just_Some_Nobody

        Thanks for this info. I was confused about this from the article.

    • Droidzilla

      I actually prefer this. If I’m ever out of signal area and have WiFi, I’ll simply turn on receiving texts via the Google Voice app again.

  • Matt Young

    Not quite making sense. I can understand now that when UserA with so called saved unique number to their contact name texts my google voice number it will show with their name within hangouts. However not understanding how youre going to be sending a message from without hangouts from your GV number

    • Caleb Martin

      When you reply to the unique number, it forwards the text to their actual number, making it look like it came from your Google Voice number. However, you will still be sending the SMS using your actual texting plan, so it still won’t work if you’re using GV to avoid that.

  • moelsen8

    good writeup, but this has been available for a long time. it just worked with the stock messaging app.. and now hangouts since it can handle texting.

    • mmseng1

      Yeah, I used to do this with my old early smartphone’s default messaging app, because I liked it better than the GV app interface (or I had problems with it or something). It’s a gigantic bloody PITA though, keeping new and separate numbers for every single contact I wanted to text. To make it obvious which was the dumb extraneous number for each contact I tagged them as Pager numbers (cuz who uses a pager?). Then when I eventually abandoned this method I had all these dang numbers clogging up my contacts (which, at the time, was a huge mess as well, due to Google’s previously poor phone contact integration).

      Thankfully Google Contacts is better now, but it’s still a confusing mess, particularly with the Google+ circles integration.