If you're a frequent Gmail user, chances are you've already noticed a new phone-like icon hanging out around the chat area on the left side of your Gmail window. If you're not already a Gmail user, getting a free account is a quick and easy process -- and you can even opt to pull your existing email accounts into Gmail. Either way, Google recently added a feature to its popular email service that allows users to make free calls to the U.S. and Canada and low-cost international calls.
If you're a Google Voice user (Voice is also free, of course), phone calls placed will display your Google Voice number as the outbound caller ID. Voice users can also choose to receive incoming calls placed to their Google Voice number directly in Gmail, in addition to any phone numbers already linked to their accounts.
Here's how it works:
Ensure that your computer speakers are on and at a good volume. You will also need a computer mic (many of the latest laptops have a mic built right in).
Log into your Gmail account. If you don't already have a Gmail account, you can create one here.
Find the Google Chat window in the bottom left of your screen. Just above your list of online contacts you will see a phone icon marked "Call phone."
Click the "Call phone" icon to launch a phone dial.
You click the dial pad, type in a number, or search for a contact.
Click the blue button labeled "Call" to place your phone call.
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