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How to forward calls to another number or device

How to forward calls

No one can be available 100% of the time. However, when your business phone is out of reach or you’re too busy to answer calls, you need to keep customers happy throughout the day. Learning how to forward calls to a different number is a simple way for desk phone and smartphone users to avoid missed calls — though it isn’t the only option you have.

We’ll walk you through the process of transferring calls to another phone. Then, we’ll introduce a better way to provide an excellent experience for both customers and team members.

What is call forwarding?

While the term is used in a wide range of use cases, call forwarding refers specifically to the act of setting up one phone number so that calls are automatically redirected to a different number.

How to forward calls on traditional phones or landlines

If you’re still using a traditional office phone but are constantly on the go, learning how to forward calls from a landline to a cell phone is essential for keeping up with phone calls.

The method you need to use will depend on the type of desk phone you have. If your office has its own internal phone network, reach out to your IT department for instructions on how to forward calls. But if your phone is on a landline, you can set up unconditional call forwarding with these four steps:

  1. Dial *72.
  2. Type in the phone number that will receive your forwarded calls, including the area code.
  3. Press pound (#).
  4. Wait for a confirmation tone to beep before hanging up.

All of your calls will automatically forward to your chosen phone number.

Ready to take calls on your landline again? Just dial *73, wait for the confirmation tone, and you should be all set.

Some service providers allow you to set up conditional call forwarding, which only forwards calls when you don’t answer or your phone line is otherwise unavailable. Your provider can tell you the proper activation and deactivation codes for this advanced feature.

How to forward iPhone calls to another cell phone number

If you’re using a mobile phone, call forwarding can still be useful when you’re too busy to pick up your phone. Though there’s no way to exclusively forward business calls if you’re using one phone number for both business and personal purposes, it can guarantee some time away from answering calls.

Memorizing your provider’s dial codes may still be necessary if your phone runs on the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network, like some older Verizon phones. However, most smartphones have a more intuitive call forwarding process than landline phones.

To enable call forwarding on an iPhone to another phone number, follow these steps:

How to forward calls: phone settings
  1. Head to your Settings app.
  2. Select Phone.
  3. Tap Call Forwarding.
  4. Toggle on call forwarding.
  5. ​Enter the phone number that will receive your forwarded calls.

When you want to turn off the call forwarding feature, simply toggle it back off, and you’ll receive calls on your iPhone again.

Apple doesn’t offer a built-in conditional call forwarding option, but some carriers let you set up this feature by dialing a code, just like you would on a landline.

How to forward calls on Android using the Phone app

Android phones let you choose between four different call forwarding options without any dial codes. Here’s how:

  1. Head to your Phone app.
  2. Tap on the three-dot menu icon, and tap Settings or Call settings.
  3. Tap Call forwarding.
  4. Choose one of four options: Always forward to automatically forward any call, forward when busy to reroute if you’re on a call, forward when unanswered to reroute anytime you don’t answer, or forward when unreached to forward if you don’t have a phone signal, your phone is off, or it’s in airplane mode.
  5. Enter the phone number that will receive your forwarded calls and confirm.

To turn off call forwarding, tap on whatever option you enabled and select Turn off.

Related: How to forward a text on Android

What are the limitations to call forwarding?

Call forwarding can be a big hassle for your team members. Whether you’re using a traditional phone system or a smartphone for business, be aware of these four limitations:

  • On many landline phone systems, you may need to manually set up your call forwarding feature each time you want to forward calls to another number or device. 
  • You may forget to turn off call forwarding when you no longer wish to automatically forward calls to another phone number.
  • If you’re paying for a desk phone system on top of another separate phone plan, you may be paying for two separate services when you don’t actually need to.  
  • There’s no way to automatically forward business calls exclusively if you’re using one phone number for both business and personal purposes.

A better alternative to call forwarding

If you want to avoid the hassle of transferring calls to another phone, getting a virtual phone number can be the best solution for your team. VoIP phone systems like OpenPhone let you make and receive calls using your internet connection. They can function as a call forwarding app but also offer key features to help you avoid missed calls without the need to turn on call forwarding.

While there may be a few cases in which VoIP call forwarding can help — like when you’re temporarily in a place without a reliable internet connection — a virtual number can take care of your needs more efficiently in all of the following scenarios.

Splitting responsibility for incoming calls

When you’re busy and need your team members to take your calls, you shouldn’t have to spend extra time forwarding calls to a different number. OpenPhone allows you to share business phone numbers with your team, so you can share responsibility for incoming calls and texts. 

How to forward calls with ring order

If a client calls a shared number, anyone who’s available can pick it up. You can also add a custom ring order as part of your call flow settings to specify who on your team (whether that’s a call group or a specific individual) receives incoming calls first.

Call and text without needing two phones

You can access virtual phone numbers from anywhere using any mobile device or computer. If your team members are away from their desks, they can stay in touch without sharing their personal cell number — or having to turn call forwarding on and off between two separate phones.

Take it from our customer Heston Williams of Self Storage Investor:

“Before OpenPhone, one of the things that I’d tried was that we’d have a separate cell phone for the property and forward the number from that cell phone back to the manager’s personal cell. You wanna talk about a nightmare, that was such a pain in the butt.”

Sharing access with a vendor

If you have a virtual assistant, you can safely give them access to call and text from a computer or smartphone using your business number without routing calls through call forwarding. Simply invite them as a user (with the member role for that number) in OpenPhone; your external vendors can support your business without the ability to update your phone number settings or make any other changes to your account. Not quite ready to give them access inside OpenPhone? You can also conditionally forward calls to an external number during or after business hours.

Giving your team more work-life balance

With a virtual number, you can set business hours so you only receive calls when your team is available. Incoming calls will automatically go to voicemail outside of your business hours.

Individual members of your workspace can also set their own work hours if they’re only available during certain shifts. Plus, if a teammate is temporarily busy they can turn on Do Not Disturb.

Automatically divert calls to another number or specific teammates

Forwarding calls to specific teammates with a phone menu in OpenPhone

Tired of transferring calls to another phone when a client calls the wrong department? You can set up phone menus for your virtual numbers, so clients can choose where they need to go — for example, by dialing 1 for sales or dialing 2 for customer support — and instantly get routed to the right place. In OpenPhone, you can route calls to go to specific other users in your workspace, divert calls to any US or Canadian number, forward calls to another OpenPhone number, and much more.

How to forward calls in OpenPhone

Not in a place with a reliable internet connection and still need to receive calls yourself? You can set up call forwarding in OpenPhone using your mobile, desktop, or web app. Your forwarding number can be any U.S., Canadian, or toll-free number you have access to.

Here’s how to forward calls in the OpenPhone mobile app:

  1. Tap on your account image in the upper left corner.
  2. Tap Manage next to Your numbers.
  3. Select the phone number you want to set up call forwarding on.
How to forward calls: mobile settings of OpenPhone's app
  1. Tap Call Forwarding and enter the phone number that will receive your forwarded calls.
  2. Hit Save.

When you’re ready to stop forwarding calls, head back to Call Forwarding (step 4 above), delete the number you’re forwarding to, and hit Save.

Setting up call forwarding on your computer is just as easy. Here’s how to forward calls in the OpenPhone desktop or web app:

  1. Click Settings from the left-hand menu.
  2. Under Workspace, click Phone Numbers.
  3. Select the phone number you want to set up call forwarding on.
Call flow settings
  1. Scroll down and tap Forward all calls.
  2. ​Enter the phone number that will receive your forwarded calls.
  3. Press the Forward button.

You can stop call forwarding at any time by going back into your phone number’s settings and tapping Disable Forwarding next to Forwarding to.

Bonus: Forward calls you’re already on to teammates

With a VoIP phone service, you don’t always have to set up call forwarding ahead of time to reroute incoming calls. If you pick up a call and realize it’s for another team member, use OpenPhone’s call transfer feature (available on our Business plan) to send customers to the right person seamlessly.

To transfer a call, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click the pause icon ⏸️ to place the caller on hold.
Hold room desktop app OpenPhone.
  1. Click on “…” next to the hold option.
More actions option desktop app OpenPhone.
  1. Select “Transfer call”
Transfer call button desktop app OpenPhone.
  1. On a desktop or mobile, type the name or phone number of the person you want to transfer the call to. You can also send a note when you transfer a call to a teammate in OpenPhone, ensuring a smooth handover and avoiding the need for the customer to repeat themselves. Keep in mind that the message is only visible if you are transferring a call to someone else in your OpenPhone workspace.
Transfer with note desktop app OpenPhone.

When you add a message for a teammate, it appears with the incoming call notification. Here’s how adding a message looks on your teammate’s end:

Incoming call transfer request from a forwarded call received on the desktop app of OpenPhone.

The best way to avoid missed calls: OpenPhone

OpenPhone desktop and mobile app

Call forwarding can be an extremely helpful feature when you’re getting business calls through your landline or smartphone. However, switching to a VoIP phone system is the best way to avoid missing important calls without the hassle of transferring calls to another phone.

With OpenPhone, you can get phone calls and text messages on any device via an internet connection. Or, you can share phone numbers with your team to allow anyone who’s available to pick up the phone. If you ever need to answer calls but don’t have internet — or if you get a call meant for someone else on your team — OpenPhone still offers VoIP call forwarding features to ensure you never miss a beat.

Sign up for a free, seven-day trial of OpenPhone to give yourself the flexibility you need.

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