Why is my voicemail unavailable on my iPhone?

If you can’t access your voicemail on an iPhone you just purchased, you may have not set it up yet. Complete this step first. Then, explore other reasons why your voicemail hasn’t been working if you can’t access your messages after you try to activate it.

Basic Troubleshooting Steps

1. Troubleshooting Option One: Complete First-Time Voicemail Setup

Usually, you can complete the first-time voicemail setup on either a used or a new iPhone in a few minutes. Follow these steps to set up your voicemail for the first time.

Steps may vary slightly, depending on your iPhone model. The steps you see below came from about four years ago. See also Apple Support documentation for instructions for iOS versions 12-13, which pertain to iPhone versions 10 or later.

1. Tap the “Phone” icon. You’ll find this on your iPhone home screen. A new menu will appear at the bottom of your home screen with a “Voicemail” icon option that you can press.

2. Press the “Voicemail” icon. If you can’t see this icon, you probably haven’t tapped the “Phone” icon yet. Do that first. Then, look at the bottom of your home screen again and select the “Voicemail” icon. It probably will show up on the lower right side of your phone screen.

3. Wait for the “Set Up Now” prompt to appear. Once it appears, proceed to step 4.

4. Press “Set Up Now.” It will appear as the only option on the screen. Press that “Set Up Now” button and move onto step 5.

5. Wait for the “Enter Password” prompt to appear. When it does, you’ll see a blank where you can enter a four-digit passcode.

6. Enter a four-digit pass code. Remember this four-digit code you create because that’s your password you need to use if you want to gain access to your voicemail.

7. Tap “Done” after creating a password. After this, you’ll have a chance to record a custom greeting or select the default one. You can decide on this when the “Set Your Outgoing Message” prompt appears.

8. Tap either “Default” or “Custom.” You may have to wait a second for the “Set Your Outgoing Message” prompt to appear on your screen. When it does, select “Default” to use the built-in phone greeting or press “Custom” to advance to the “Record” screen, and the “Record” button shows up after you press “Custom.”

9. Press “Record” to create custom greeting. The “Record” button will show up on the bottom of your screen after you select the “Custom” recording option.

10. Accept or Re-Record. Do this until you like the custom greeting you choose, or you can just use the “Default” recording if you want.

2. Troubleshooting Option Two: Check For a Carrier Signal

Look at the status buttons on the top of your screen. It should show you how many bars you have on your phone. If you see only one or fewer bars, you might want to proceed to restarting your phone. Then, move to a new spot on the property.

If indoors, you might have to try using your phone outdoors, for instance. Sometimes, you can at least access the Internet even if you have no phone signal, and you might need to check your carrier’s coverage map to see if you’re still within the calling area. If this fails, restart your phone.

3. Troubleshooting Option Three: Restart Your Phone

Restarting may not always work, but it could solve the problem fast, especially if you had a call signal just a few minutes ago but don’t right now.

Turning your phone off and on may also activate your automated updating system. Moreover, a quick restart might help you refresh your cellular data or Wi-Fi connection that sometimes times out after your phone sits for too long.

In some cases, turning your phone off and on again may also provide a fast fix when your visual voicemail screen freezes if you have that option installed. If this doesn’t work, move onto the fourth troubleshooting option, which involves making sure airplane mode is not on.

4. Troubleshooting Option Four: Is Airplane Mode On? If So, Turn It Off.

If you left it on after a flight or somehow accidentally bumped it when using your phone, you can follow one of these two easy fix options.

For X or Later

Swipe down from the top right corner of your screen. When you do this, the “Control Center” opens. The Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Volume and Airplane mode and other shortcuts will appear. Press the icon that looks like an “airplane,” and view its status. If it’s on, then turn it off from that same screen where you accessed it.

For SE, 8 and Earlier

Swipe up from the bottom of your phone screen. When the Control Center appears, tap on the “airplane” icon located toward the top of the screen near the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi buttons. Once you tap on the “airplane” icon, you can verify whether it’s off or on. If it’s on, then turn it off.

5. Troubleshooting Option Five: Update Your iOS Software

The first steps pertain to manual updates. The last step gives you the option to set up automatic updates, all of which can improve voicemail performance.

iOS Software Update Steps

1. Tap the “Settings” app icon. You’ll usually see it on the home screen. Otherwise, type “Settings” in the search bar located on the top of the App Library screen, which you’ll find from the App Library once you swipe left all the way past your home screen. Then, tap on “Settings” from here to open the settings.

2. Select “General.” This will appear once you have entered the “settings” screen.

3. Tap “Software Update.” You should see this option toward the top of the screen after you press “general” from the “settings” menu.

4. Tap “Download and Install Update.” Alternatively, it may appear as just “download update”, and you may also see another option toward the bottom of the screen that says, “upgrade to” and gives a specific operating system to which you can update.

5. Optional: Select “Okay” to start automatic updates. This will ensure that your phone stays current, which may improve voicemail performance.

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About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech.

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