Using a Bluetooth Headset with Google Voice

Filed under: Mac Tips | Tags: , , , , |

Skype and Google Voice are great ways to stay in touch. However, sometimes you don’t want to sound like you are talking on a speakerphone, nor do you want to deal with the headset wires. The big problem is that, unlike in Skype, Google Voice does not let you send the phone ring to one device (the computer speakers), and the call to the second device (a headset). So, if you have a headset plugged in, but are not wearing it, you may miss a call because you don’t hear the ring in the headset speakers.

Of course, you could just start the call in speakerphone mode (using the computer speakers and mic) and then plug in. However, in practice, this does not really work: dealing with a headset is an unnecessary distraction while taking notes or looking up case information.

Why not go wireless with your VOIP?

You probably already have a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone and are used to wearing it. Why not use you Bluetooth headset with your VOIP system (Skype or Google Voice)?

The headset I’m using is a Plantronics Voyager Pro+ based on Don McAllister’s ScreenCastsOnline episode on Dragon Dictate with a Bluetooth headset.

I remember reading a few years ago that Macs were terrible, to the point of being unusable, at Bluetooth audio. So, I was prepared for a simple pairing not to work and downloaded the programs Don McAllister recommended for getting a Bluetooth headset to work with Dragon Dictate: SoundFlower and LineIn.

However, I thought I should give the simple method a try first. And, what do you know? Pairing went off without a hitch. A Skype test call worked just fine! Instructions for pairing a Bluetooth headset with your Mac below the fold:

Instructions for pairing a Bluetooth headset with a Mac:

1. Make sure your headset is in pairing mode. This process is different for each headset. For the Voyager Pro+, you have to press and hold the on/off button until the headset light alternates between read and blue.

2. Go to System Preferences and select the Bluetooth icon.

3. Make sure the Bluetooth on your Mac is on and discoverable. Then press the “+” button.

4. Your Mac should recognize the Bluetooth headset. Select it and press the “Continue” button.

5. Your Mac will attempt to pair with the headset. If it fails, click the back button and try again. You may have to more the headset closer to your Mac or even hold it over the mac. Yes, it is silly, but sometimes changing the relative position of the headset to the Mac helps pairing.

6. Once your mac is paired with the Bluetooth headset, you will see a Conclusion screen. Now you can enjoy wireless VOIP calls!

7. If After your Mac is paired with the Bluetooth headset you can reconnect it using the Bluetooth pull down icon in top bar. Note: some headsets, including the Plantronics Voyager Pro+, have Multipoint functionality allowing a Bluetooth headset to be connected to multiple devices.

I have now been using the Voyager Pro for all Google Voice and Skype calls for a week (as well as with my iPhone when I am on the go). The sound quality is excellent and my callers say I no longer sound like I am on a speaker phone. Give it a shot!


  • Brandon

    I’m also using a Plantronics Voyager Pro HD and can get it to work with Skype (on a Mac), but after a few minutes, people on the other end start hearing an echo and my voice begins to crack. I can’t get it to work at all with Google Chat even though I have added it to the Mic and Speaker settings within Google Chat. If you have any suggestions, I would be VERY grateful. 

    Sincerely,
    Brandon

  • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    There’s been some complaints about the bluetooth stack on Macs. Search google for mac bluetooth crackle. 
    A possible solution: http://mariusvw.com/2011/06/16/how-to-fix-the-crackling-bad-sound-of-bluetooth-a2dp-headsets-or-speakers-on-mac-os-x/

  • Aliasgar Babat

    Yeah, Skype and Google voice both are great. But hey, you know what, another very good option is HD VOIP audio conferencing service from RHUB. It is easy to use and is free and integrated.