How to call someone from a computer (for free)

Calls have always been made through landlines and mobile phones, but did you know you can also call someone from a computer? Read on to find out more about how you can do this!
Chee Yong Qing
Chee Yong Qing

Content Marketer

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How to call someone from a computer (for free)

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

BUT I guess there’s such a thing as free calls! 😜

You’re probably here because you don’t want to be limited to making outbound calls with your phone.

Even the best of us forget our phones at home sometimes. 🤭

What if we told you that you can also make calls from your computer? While that sounds absurd (because why call from a computer when you have the latest smartphone?), but trust us, there are benefits.

In this article, we’ll examine some of its benefits and how it works, before diving into some options for you!

Benefits of calling someone from a computer

It acts like a second phone

Phone battery dead but have an important call to take in a minute? Left your mobile phone at home but you’re already in the office?

Here’s where your computer comes in really handy!

Route incoming calls straight to your computer. Make and receive calls via your computer VoIP software and centralize your work processes to a single device.

Keeps work-life separate

Use a virtual phone number to make and receive business calls on your computer via the internet. Keep your personal mobile phone number private while being contactable by clients and colleagues. Using a computer helps to keep your work-life separate.

It can be cheaper option

If you frequently make calls to international clients and prospects, using a mobile phone can accumulate immense phone bills from international call fees.

Some computer software offers limited free international calling via the internet so that you don’t have to pay for international calls if you are calling clients from overseas.

Others let you make international calls at a discounted rate, and you can fix the monthly amount spent by pre-purchasing calling credits or with monthly subscriptions.

A wider range of call features

With a mobile phone, you can only do the occasional ‘reject’, ‘mute’, and ‘hold’. But using software from your computer to make calls includes a range of useful features to enhance the calling experience.

For personal use, this may include automated call forwarding, transcripted voicemails, cross-device notifications, and SMS messaging. This differs between software, but some options listed below also support group SMS messaging.

For business use, you can integrate your software with CRM tools to automate customer data collection. Create group conference calls with your team and/or clients for simultaneous communication across multiple locations.

How to call someone from a computer

VoIP

Calls through your computer’s internet connection use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP means that your voice is captured by your computer and transmitted over the internet network to reach your recipient.

As such, calling from your computer using VoIP is actually quite similar to traditional telephone calls.

Telephone to telephone calls are made via phone network transmissions.
Telephone to telephone calls are made via phone network transmissions.

When making calls from telephone to telephone, your device captures your voice transmission, routes it to a network, which then routes it to the device you’re calling, and plays your voice transmission. This back and forth transfer of data is how traditional calls work.

Computer to telephone calls are made via internet network transmissions.
Computer to telephone calls are made via internet network transmissions.

Similarly in VoIP software, your device captures your voice as a digital signal, routes it through the internet network as an Internet Protocol packet, then to the device you’re calling, and plays the digital signal received.

The differences between traditional calls and VoIP calls lie in the type and length of transmission and the kind of devices used.

Furthermore, VoIP can reach both internet applications and traditional phone lines. Let’s keep in mind some key distinctions. 👇

App to phone

You want your computer (app) to be able to reach traditional phone lines (phone).

Ideally, you’d want to avoid the hassle of worrying whether the recipient has an active internet connection or not. Only you need to be connected to the internet.

However, for that to happen, your call transmission through the internet needs to be transferred over to a traditional phone line network.

Therefore, internet apps that offer app to phone VoIP solutions will incur costs, as they cross over from free internet networks to restricted traditional phone lines.

Thus, the free options listed below have to work around that cost by setting some form of limitations.

App to app

This other type of VoIP software requires the recipient to not only have an active internet connection, but also the same software as you.

They’re not exactly calling the phone number. It’s more of a call within the same app (app to app, get it? 😉), but the recipient is identified via their phone number.

It’s mildly frustrating to deal with these limitations, but app to app VoIP software are all free and unlimited. That’s good enough for them to remain in our list below, don’t you think? 🙂

Free app to phone calls

PopTox: limited free calls

PopTox is a browser-based VoIP software that provides limited free international calls.

PopTox is a browser-based VoIP software to make app to phone calls for free. Without the need to install any application at all, PopTox gives all users a limited amount of free calls each day.

The software provides limited free calls while bearing the costs of connecting to traditional phones, because they are supported by subscribers who support them every month.

Other Features:

  • Upgrade to unlimited international calls: Check out PopTox’s rates for monthly subscriptions while also supporting their cause for completely free calls.

Pros:

  • Truly free: With no strings attached, you can make calls from anywhere in the world as long as you’re connected to the internet. 

  • Free international calls: Worry-free from additional charges because you can make calls to any country for free! 

  • No sign up needed: No need to remember account passwords or enter any credit card details. It’s a hassle-free experience when using PopTox.

Cons:

  • Only outgoing calls: PopTox won’t be a great option if you need to be contactable by your customers.

  • No assigned numbers: The recipient may be confused with different numbers dialing in for each time you’re calling them.

  • Limited call time: Visible only after you have connected your call, it’s far from ideal to have longer conversations within the stipulated call time.

  • Limited number of free calls: If you’re dependent on making many calls per day, PopTox’s free calling wouldn’t be a reliable option for your needs.

  • Basic user interface: There are no other available features and can seem lackluster.

What we think:

While PopTox is a great option to make free outgoing calls, we find it an unreliable substitute to completely replace calling needs. You’ll have to be quick with your calls with the limited call time available.

But we  recommend you to use it as an alternative for your international calls! Just remember to inform the other party that you’re calling them in advance, less they be confused by all kinds of international numbers coming in on their caller ID.

If you’re a heavy user that frequently makes personal international calls, we strongly suggest you consider their affordable monthly rates for UNLIMITED international calls! 👍

Globfone: limited calls with ads

Globfone is a browser-based VoIP software that provides limited free international calls supported by advertisements.

Similar to Poptox, Globfone is a browser-based VoIP software that provides a limited number of free app-to-phone international calls with the support of advertisements.

Since Globfone does not offer a paid subscription service, they make up for their operating costs with advertisements. Ads are generally non-intrusive and pop-ups remain within their website, unlike other intrusive pop-up windows.

Other Features:

  • Send free texts: Use their browser interface to send out free text messages.

  • Make free video calls: Globfone uses their own server to transmit video calls made through their website.

  • Free file-sharing: With both sender and recipient on their website

Pros:

  • Free (no hidden charges!): Make calls from anywhere in the world as long as you’re connected to the internet.

  • Free international calls: No additional charges when making international calls!

  • No sign up needed: No sign up or log in required. Just go to their website and dial away!

Cons:

  • Only outgoing calls: Unfortunately, you can only call customers, but can’t receive their calls.

  • No assigned numbers: There are no specifically assigned numbers when you call customers, which can get messy.

  • Limited call time: You can only make calls within a limited time frame.

  • Limited number of free calls: You can only make a certain number of calls per day.

  • Basic user interface: Its simple interface can seem lackluster.
Globfone requires you to turn off your adblocker.
Globfone requires you to turn off your adblocker.
  • Advertisements: Globfone’s use of advertisements finances their free call service. You must turn off your adblocker before you can use their service. So you’re going to have to bear with the random pop-ups and advertisements on their pages before and after your call.

  • No upgrades: You can’t pay to make unlimited international calls, unlike PopTox’s subscriptions.

What we think:

If you don’t mind the occasional advertisements, Globfone is just as good an option as PopTox is. 😃

However, if you’re considering heavy use and don’t mind paying a few dollars, then you may still prefer PopTox’s paid subscriptions for unlimited calls.

Globfone’s free text feature is also a great option to check out, but note that your recipient will receive the message from the contact “Globfone” and the end of the message with the words “/try Globfone”. The other features have better alternatives out there.

TextNow: free calls for US and Canada

TextNow offers free app to phone calls within the US and Canada with occasional advertisements.

TextNow enables you to make app-to-phone calls on their application. Calls within the US and Canada are free on TextNow, but the free version will occasionally run advertisements.

You can opt to subscribe to their ad-free version while supporting their operating cost.

TextNow allows you to completely replace the need to sign up for a traditional phone line. You can purchase a SIM card with TextNow for your mobile phone to use TextNow through mobile data connection.

Other Features:

  • Texting: Send SMS with your TextNow number while keeping to your other messaging apps for app to app messaging.

  • Group texting: Group messages are common in app to app messaging applications, but TextNow offers group texting via SMS. Works best with other TextNow users!

  • Voicemail: Set up voicemail settings just like a traditional phone line.

  • Conference calls: Chat with multiple people concurrently with in-app group calling.

Pros:

  • No phone number needed: When you create an account with TextNow, you will be assigned a number when you sign up. For free users, this number will only be deactivated and unlinked from your account after a period of user inactivity.

  • Unlimited domestic calls: If you’re in the US and Canada, use TextNow to make domestic calls to your heart’s content. 😋

Cons:

TextNow desktop application’s dial pad for making calls.
TextNow desktop application’s dial pad for making calls.
  • Desktop application only: You can’t access TextNow via web browsers. Not a great inconvenience, and perhaps even preferred by some! But you won’t get the same flexibility if you use multiple computers for work and personal use.

  • Free for the US and Canada: For now, they’re not so great for everyone else outside of the US and Canada.

What we think:

It’s great that TextNow supports both incoming and outgoing call features, accessible through both your computer and devices.

US and Canada users should strongly consider their SIM card offering as a complete substitute for making calls, over traditional phone lines. But not so attractive for those of us who wish to retain other features such as a robust mobile data plan.

You can also compare TextNow with the next option down below:

Google Voice: free calls for US and Canada

Google Voice offers free app to phone calls within the US and Canada.

Voice from Google offers free app-to-phone calls within the US and Canada. You can use your computer’s web browser to make and receive calls via Voice.

Stay connected on your call while you’re on-the-go using Voice. Once you’ve linked your devices to your Voice account, you can freely switch over to them even while you’re on a call.

Other Features:

  • Supports text messages: Intended for 1:1 conversations, you can send SMS messages to a single personal contact.

  • Block spam calls: Stay spam free with Voice’s software that automatically identifies and blocks spam calls. ⛔

  • Record calls: For you to refer to your past calls if needed.

  • Hide your number from caller ID: Useful if you don’t want to receive calls on your Voice number.

  • Voicemail transcription: Voice’s software will transcript voicemails into text for you to read voicemails as text messages. 😮

Pros:

  • No phone number needed: Similarly to TextNow, you receive a number when you sign up for Voice.

  • Link existing numbers: Link up to 6 of your existing numbers to your Voice account. Any incoming calls to your Voice number can also be forwarded to these linked numbers.

  • Link to your devices: Choose which devices to ring when calls come in. Simply install Voice on those devices.

Cons:

  • Free for the US and Canada: You can’t have free calls using Voice in other regions. Not all regions have Voice either, so you’d have to check if it’s accessible for use in your country.

  • International call charges: Voice claims that they charge at a lower price than traditional phone networks. Check out their rates here.

What we think:

Overall, Voice is a great option to make free calls from your computer only if you’re from the US and Canada.

It is more accessible than TextNow because it can be used straight from your web browser.

Its free Voice number can be a good alternative if you do not yet own a traditional phone number for your home, or if you’re looking for a replacement. However, if you want to use Voice on your mobile when you’re on-the-go, you will need an active internet connection. This means that you still need to get some form of mobile data subscription with your local service provider.

Skype: 60 minutes of free calls for Office 365 subscribers

Video calling service Skype offers app to phone calls.
User interface of video calling service Skype that offers app to phone calls.

The video calling service Skype offers app-to-phone calls on both web browser and desktop application on your computer.

If you are on Office 365 (Family or Personal) subscription, you will have 60 minutes of free calls every month.

Other Features:

  • App-to-app video calling: Free video calls can be made with another Skype user if both of you have an active internet connection.

  • Supports SMS: Stay connected with other users without Skype with SMS messaging.

  • Supports Voicemail: Set up voicemail on your Skype number just like traditional phone lines.

  • In-app chat function: Message other Skype users with free in-app messaging.

Pros:

  • No phone number needed: You don’t need to purchase a number from Skype to make outgoing calls.

Cons:

  • Expiration date: The monthly 60 minutes expire at the end of each month, and are non-transferable.

  • Only free for Office 365: The rest of us without an Office 365 subscription will have to purchase credits for international calls or subscription plans for local calls.

  • No free incoming calls: If you want to receive incoming calls via Skype, you will need to purchase a phone number from them, and it’ll only be available in 25 countries/regions.

What we think:

Similar to Google Voice, it’s great that Skype’s app to phone calls is available through the web browser, although you can choose to also download their application on your computer.

For non-US and Canada users, using Skype is a viable alternative to TextNow or Google Voice. But if you’re a heavy user, the free 60 minutes from your Office 365 subscription won’t be sufficient.

Please take full advantage of their one-month free trial to try out their app to phone calls! 😉

Free app to app calls

Maybe you find it tiring to navigate through all the limitations for the free app to phone options. 🥱

Welcome then, to the hassle-free app to app options that all offer free and unlimited call time. 🎉

Once again, the only catch is that the person you are calling has to have an active internet connection and share the same software as you.

FaceTime: for macOS users

Apple’s FaceTime offers free app to app calls for macOS users.
Apple’s FaceTime offers free app to app calls for macOS users.

macOS users will be familiar with Apple’s Facetime. Choose between audio-only or video calls when making a call from your iMac computer. Select the recipient from your contact list, or call them via their phone number or email address registered with FaceTime.

It’s great that you can make group calls and freely add in new callers or invite them to join your group call. As FaceTime makes calls over the internet, it has an international reach and callers may join in from their iPhones and iPads too.

Other Features:

  • Supports text messages: Easily switch between the Messages app and FaceTime.

  • Camera: Take a live photo of the person you are calling through FaceTime calls.

Pros:

  • Compatible with Siri: Use voice commands to call people! 😙

Cons:

  • Only between Apple devices: Great for the macOS or iPhone/iPad users, not so much for the Windows and Android users.

WhatsApp and Telegram

Make calls from WhatsApp’s desktop application.
Make calls from WhatsApp’s desktop application.

Make calls from Telegram’s desktop application.

WhatsApp and Telegram are both text instant messaging platforms that provide video and audio calling features.

Also, you’re very likely to reach someone on either of these platforms. WhatsApp reported over 2 billion users, while Telegram has over 500 million monthly active users.

Other Features:

  • Text messaging: Send messages to individual users, groups, or broadcasts.

  • Video calling: Turn your audio calls to a video call with a simple click on the dial pad.

  • File sharing: Send photos, documents, and music files in your chat conversation with other users.

Pros:

  • Synced with mobile contacts: If your mobile devices have contacts synced up, you can make calls to them on your computer application.

Cons:

  • Desktop application only: Even though both messaging platforms support messaging from web browsers, they do not support call features there.

  • No group calls: Unlike FaceTime, both WhatsApp and Telegram do not support group calls on their desktop applications. 😶

Call from a computer for business

The options on our list so far are great for personal use when making calls from a computer.

However, if you’re looking for an option for your business to make and receive calls from your computer, consider the browser-based Novocall business phone system.

Novocall is a business phone system that comes with features like an outbound dialer, click-to-call, and call tracking to support call-driven lead generation efforts.
Novocall is a business phone system that comes with features like an outbound dialer, click-to-call, and call tracking to support call-driven lead generation efforts.

Novocall offers features like an outbound dialer, click-to-call, and call tracking. Such features are great for call-driven lead generation efforts for small to medium-sized businesses.

Similar to some options listed above, you can purchase a virtual phone number with Novocall for a dedicated number for your leads and customers to reach you.

As a business phone system, Novocall’s not free. But it is affordable with its many features:

Novocall’s autodialer helps you to automate cold call campaigns and make calls.
User interface of Novocall’s autodialer that helps you to automate cold call campaigns and make calls.

The software offers an autodialer where you can automate your outbound cold call campaigns. Upload a list of numbers to call and let the dialer handle the rest. You can also manually make calls using the dial pad. 📞

Novocall’s click-to-call widget allows information collection and scheduling of calls.
Novocall’s click-to-call widget allows information collection and scheduling of calls.

The click-to-call widget can be embedded into your business website. This is a great way to capture lead information, especially when leads are already highly interested in your product or service. They can schedule an appointment for a callback at a time convenient for them.

Novocall’s call tracking feature uses DNI to trace calls back to its marketing source.
Novocall’s call tracking feature uses DNI to trace calls back to its marketing source.

Novocall’s call tracking feature allows you to trace calls back to its marketing source using Dynamic number insertion (DNI). It will automatically assign a unique phone number to each campaign so you can track multiple calls leading to the same campaign.

This provides you with deep insights about which campaign drove the most calls to your business and allows you to optimize top-performing campaigns.

Apart from these, Novocall also has other features such as lead routing, automated follow-ups, and call recording capabilities.

You can also integrate Novocall with your CRM tool, Facebook Lead Ads and Analytic software like Google Analytics too!

Conclusion

It’s great to have the convenience of making domestic and international calls from your computer. It’s even better if your VoIP software supports inbound calls. 🥳

We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of how you can call someone from a computer.

If you’re looking for an option for your call-focused business, take advantage of Novocall’s 14-day free trial to find out more!

Chee Yong Qing
Chee Yong Qing

Yong Qing is a Content Marketer at Novocall. In his own time, he enjoys making music and philosophical conversations.

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