How to save your most important — and most precious — voice mails – The Washington Post

Science & Technology

If you’re anything like me, your voice mail is mostly mundane. A few work-related messages you need to follow up on. A couple of spammy robo diatribes. Maybe some snippets of silence from numbers you’ve never heard of.
But voice mail can be much more than just a record of messages missed. To some, it’s a reminder of better times. For others, a chronicle of fleeting moments and changing interests. And for Ian Boudreau, a games journalist from Binghamton, N.Y., voice mail was his link to the past.
After a visit with his parents in 2019, Boudreau’s mother, Alanna, had called — he doesn’t remember the phone ringing — and left him a roughly minute-long voice mail. Just weeks after, she was gone, and Boudreau kept that voice mail on his phone until this year, when it randomly disappeared.
“She just wanted to say it was great to see me, and she was always very effusive when she would say, ‘I love you,’ and, ‘I can’t wait to come see you again,’ ” he said. “After she passed, [the voice mail] was like a doorway into how she was.”
Boudreau suspects that his phone’s T-Mobile Visual Voicemail app was to blame. After noticing some flakiness, he reinstalled the app and felt a “horrible sinking feeling” when he discovered the voice mail was gone. And although the thought of saving her last message more permanently had crossed his mind, he just hadn’t gotten around to it.
He isn’t alone. Voice mails can go missing for many other reasons, too, such as accidental erasure or switching wireless providers, and stories such as Boudreau’s are unfortunately too common.
If you’re one of the many people who have treasured voice mails locked away on your phone, please: Take a few moments to save them elsewhere, just in case. Here’s how to do it.
Note: Because Android phone makers customize their devices differently, the process for yours may vary from these instructions. If that’s the case for you, let us know.
The software running on more basic devices — such as flip phones and the rugged devices that often get used on job sites — doesn’t allow you to easily share those audio files. The same is true of smartphones that don’t have a visual voice mail feature. If you dial in and listen to your messages, saving them somewhere else can be a little trickier.
Our recommendation? Turn on your speakerphone, play the voice mail and record it on another device. Many smartphones or tablets have built-in voice memo or recorder apps that you can use for free, should you have access to one of these devices. As for laptops, they almost certainly have a built-in microphone — you just need the right software. We recommend using the free app Audacity for Windows or Mac’s built-in QuickTime Player to record the audio.
Once you’ve recorded the voice mail on the device of your choice, save it (sometimes this happens automatically) and put it somewhere for safekeeping. No matter how you save a copy of those voice mails, we recommend putting them in more than one place — say, your computer, an external drive and in cloud storage — just to be safe.
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