First, if you already have a Google account (like a GMail address), you will want to log out of by clicking on your name or icon up in the upper right corner of any Google app, and then click the “Sign Out” button:
Then you will need to go to sign up for an account, which you should be able to get to by typing http://voice.google.com into the browser address bar (don’t use the button at the top of the screen, it won’t get you to the right page.
Since you’re not logged in, when you go to the Google Voice page, it should redirect you to a URL something like https://accounts.google.com/SignUp?service=grandcentral&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fvoice<mpl=open, which will take you to a page where you can sign up for a Google account.
First you’ll want to click the link that says “I prefer to use my current email address” so that you’ll be able to type in your address instead of creating a new gmail.com address:
This will change the screen so that you can type in your own address:
Then you just need to walk through the normal process of signing up (fill in your name, create a password, give them your birthdate, etc.). Note: I learned not long ago that you need to make sure to put in the year, or some features won’t work because Google will assume you are under 13 and try to protect you (if you’re paranoid you can just figure out a date that makes you older than 18 and be done with that).
After you have all the field filled out properly, you’ll get a screen that tells you your account needs to be verified:
Check your email (in this case email@example.com) and you should find an email with a link something like this:
After you click the link, you’ll go to the page to set up your profile, where you can add your photo or just hit “Next”:
You’ll then see a page that says you’re ready to set up your Google Voice:
Click the “Back to Google Voice” button and you’ll start the normal Google Voice setup:
Accept the terms, and then you’ll be asked if you want a new number or to use an existing one. Unless you’re just getting rid of a land line all together, don’t choose “I want to use my mobile number”.
Once you type in the number, you’ll be prompted with a two digit PIN and a prompt that will make Google Voice call that number. The number can’t be another Google Voice number, and you should make it a mobile number if you want to receive text messages there
After you verify the number (Google will call you and you’ll need to provide the PIN that they show you on the screen), you’ll be able to pick your number.
You do this with a search where you can put in an area code or zip code, and a search string
If you go to settings (by clicking the little gear icon), you can add other phones or turn on/off the advanced settings so that this can become a voicemail only number: