Making Real Phone Calls With Your Mac

If you turn on the right options on your iPhone and Mac, you can receive and place phone calls via the FaceTime app on your Mac. These calls can be from or to a non-Apple ID number or even a landline.

Video Transcript
Now here's some functionality that you may not know about involving your iPhone and your Mac. You can receive phone calls on your Mac. Now I'm not talking about just purely FaceTime phone calls, you know, when someone with an Apple ID calls you either at your Apple ID or using your iPhone number that's linked to your Apple ID and that goes through and you can see it on your Mac and maybe other devices you have as well.

I'm talking about when somebody actually calls on a system that's not connected to you in any way using Apple ID. As a matter of fact it could be even a land line. Somebody calls you on a land line at your iPhone phone number and you can answer that call on your Mac even if your iPhone isn't around.

So, on your iPhone if you go into Settings, and this is in the latest version of iOS 11, you go into Settings and then you go into Cellular. There's an option there for calls on other devices. You go in there and you can see the other devices that are connected via your Apple ID. You can see at the top it says Allow Calls on Other Devices, sign into your iCloud account to make and receive calls using your carrier account even when your iPhone is not nearby.

So I've turned on my Mac Pro for that and my MacBook Pro. So that's what I need to do on my iPhone. Now on my Mac, if you run the FaceTime app and then you go into FaceTime Preferences, under Settings you'll see here a checkbox for Calls from iPhone. Now I actually got an alert when I turned this on on my iPhone to turn it on on my Mac as well and doing so checked this off. But you may have to go and do it manually. This should complete what you need to do in order to receive calls on your Mac.

Now with those two things turned on, one on my iPhone and one here on my Mac, I was actually able to actually use a land line, call my iPhone's number and the call came through as a notification on my Mac. I was able to answer it using the FaceTime app on my Mac and talk from my Mac to a land line. It looks like you can place calls the same way using the FaceTime app once you have this turned on.

Now I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences. I'm using AT&T. I'm wondering if it varies depending upon which carrier you've got and perhaps not available in all countries. But certainly it's great functionality allowing you to keep your iPhone in your pocket if you are using your Mac and not having to pull it out to answer a phone call. You can just do it right there on your Mac. It could be really handy for taking care of business without having to have all your devices all around you all the time.

Comments: 34 Responses to “Making Real Phone Calls With Your Mac”

    Chris Proudlove
    3/22/18 @ 10:08 am

    Gary, great tip and it works just fine for me here in the UK on EE. Just one question: if I’m calling a landline using Facetime, is the call free of charges from the supplier of my landline phone line? And if so, can I make overseas calls and save myself tons pf money. Or do I stick to WhatsApp, Skype etc.

    3/22/18 @ 10:13 am

    Chris: The call is going through your iPhone’s provider. I would imagine that it would be treated just like if you were calling from your iPhone, in terms of billing and cost.

    Mike Fisk
    3/22/18 @ 10:22 am

    i have AT&T as well. When I slide the “Allow Calls On Other Devices” switch I get a pop up indicating “Cannot Turn on Calls on Other Devices” indicating that “FaceTime and iCloud must be signed in to the same Apple ID to enable Calls from other Devices.”
    I’m pretty certain that they are but will check. Anyone else have a similar experience?

    3/22/18 @ 10:48 am

    What’s the difference between doing this and enabling calls over Wifi?

    3/22/18 @ 10:51 am

    Cameron: Calls over Wi-Fi allows you to use your iPhone to make calls using your home’s Wi-Fi network instead of the mobile phone company towers. What I’m talking about in this video is using your Mac to make the calls, not your iPhone.

    Arnie Keller
    3/22/18 @ 10:54 am

    Given Facebook’s less than stellar protection of one’s data, what info is gathered and kept—and sold—by Facetime?

    3/22/18 @ 10:59 am

    Arnie: FaceTime is a method of placing a voice or video call. It isn’t a social network. It doesn’t have anything to do with data such as interests, hobbies, political leanings, etc. It is similar to Skype or your home landline. So I’m not sure what you are getting at here.

    Scott Smith
    3/22/18 @ 11:04 am

    I get the same message as Mr, Fisk?

    Floyd Wige
    3/22/18 @ 11:08 am

    I have the same issue as Mike Fisk: “Cannot Turn on Calls on Other Devices”

    3/22/18 @ 11:11 am

    Fisk, Scott, Floyd: Did you check your FaceTime settings to see which Apple ID you were using there and whether it matched? On all of your devices? If they match, then perhaps signing out and back in will help.

    Johnny Gonzalez
    3/22/18 @ 11:48 am

    I can receive a call on my Mac with no problem, but I have never been able to initiate a call from my Mac. I always get the message “Your iPhone and Mac must be on the same Wi-Fi network”, even tho they are on the same Wi-Fi network. :(

    3/22/18 @ 12:03 pm

    If wifi calling is for the iPhone and not the Mac, then why is there a button in the Mac’s FaceTime preferences that says, “Upgrade to Wifi Calling” right under the checkbox for “Calls from iPhone”?

    3/22/18 @ 12:10 pm

    Cameron: This allows your Mac to then use your Wi-Fi to make the call. So Mac->Wi-Fi->out instead of Mac->iPhone->tower->out. I had thought your original question was about the Wi-Fi Calling option in the iPhone settings, not in the Mac’s FaceTime app.

    Johnny Gonzalez
    3/22/18 @ 12:22 pm

    Thanks to Cameron and Gary I am able to initiate calls on my Mac now. Thanks! From :( to :)

    3/22/18 @ 12:40 pm

    I did both. I checked the box for “Calls from iPhone,” and I upgraded to wifi calling. I was able to:

    1. Call a landline in another state using my MacBook, even with my iPhone turned off.

    2. Call my iPhone’s number using my iPhone, and it rang through to my MacBook, where it was able to be answered and have a conversation between my MacBook and iPhone on the same number. This is a great feature, because we don’t have a landline, but I can still call home and have a family member answer!

    Mike Fisk
    3/22/18 @ 12:58 pm

    Gary: I checked iCloud, FaceTime, and logged out and back in each one with the same Apple ID and still get the same result. I’ll call Apple support if I don’t see an effective answer here. Likely a little tweak that hasn’t been discovered here yet.

    I see having this option as a great tool. I spend hours daily at my desk and my Mac Pro with no land line. I will use this option exclusively.

    John S
    3/22/18 @ 2:22 pm

    Mike Fisk. Yes the same thing happens to me. At first I got the message on my iphone and I was NOT logged into FaceTime. But I keep getting the message even after I did log on.

    Doris Slattery
    3/22/18 @ 3:25 pm

    Gary I’ve been receiving calls on my Mac for some time now. I had never made a call out until just now. It worked fine. I have AT&T as well.
    Thanks for the info.

    3/22/18 @ 5:34 pm

    Btw, forgot to mention that we use Verizon. However, we just moved to Alaska, and there are no Verizon towers in are area, so we’re roaming, and calls on the Mac still works!

    3/22/18 @ 9:41 pm

    Hi Gary! Hey, I use FT frequently from my iPhone & iPad to talk to kids and grandkids, but have apparently never installed it on my Mac. When I just tried, I got a msg that said it couldn’t be installed because my OS was too new. I’m running High Sierra. Do you know of any fixes for this? Your articles and suggestions have helped me learn a lot. Thank you!

    3/22/18 @ 9:45 pm

    Joyce: FaceTime comes as part of macOS, you don’t need to install it. Just search for it with Spotlight or LaunchPad.

    3/22/18 @ 9:46 pm

    Gary, cellular option no avail on OS 11.3 in Australia

    3/23/18 @ 5:34 am

    Not available in South Africa.
    Everything looks the same as your steps of explanation except that “Cellular” under Settings, is called “Mobile Data” and all the rest is the same but for the explanation wording of how it works: It specifies that this only work when your iPhone is nearby and on WiFi.

    3/23/18 @ 8:40 am

    Gary, I’m on iOS 11.2.6. But when I go to Settings->Cellular->Calls on Other Devices the description says “Use your iPhone cellular account to make and receive calls on devices signed into your iCloud account when they are nearby and on Wi-Fi.” That’s different from what you’re showing. Any ideas why? I’m on Verizon if that matters. Thanks!

    3/23/18 @ 8:57 am

    Don: Seems to say the same thing. Maybe just a wording difference between AT&T and Verizon.

    3/23/18 @ 12:36 pm

    You can also make calls , when properly set up, directly from your contacts on your Mac/MacBookPro.

    Lali Raj
    3/23/18 @ 12:43 pm

    Gary if one turns on the FaceTime preference call from iPhone it says the following: “Use your iPhone cellar account to make and receive calls when your iPhone is nearby and on wi-fi”. I want to know if I want to make an international call; don’t you think it will charge me on my cellar charging?

    3/23/18 @ 2:26 pm

    Lali: I would imagine it would be billed just as if you called from your iPhone. But you’d need to check with your carrier to be certain.

    3/25/18 @ 6:42 am

    Gary, the wording difference seems to be that yours says even if the phone isn’t nearby, and mine says if it is nearby. So different functionality. Didn’t know if it was a Verizon/AT&T difference or if it was some setup option I’d missed somewhere.

    3/25/18 @ 8:55 am


    Maybe I’m a little confused by this. I thought in order to receive and make phone calls on the Mac (or an iPad) is that BOTH your iPhone and your Mac had to be on the same WiFi network? It even stats in the settings on the Mac that both have to be on the same WiFi network. Is that not the case, am I not understanding how this work? How else would the Mac make the call if it didn’t have cell phone access? Or is the call being done over WiFi via your internet connection?

    3/25/18 @ 9:25 am

    Karl: Perhaps it has to do with combining the features of “Allow Calls on Other Devices” and “Wi-Fi Calling.” The second is only available if your mobile carried allows it, so not everyone has that. But if you have both options turned on, then it is technically possible to call from your Mac, via Wi-Fi, without your iPhone present (or turned on). After all, if the call is routed via Wi-Fi though the Internet, and not via your iPhone through the mobile tower, then there is no need for your iPhone to be involved, technically. But then again, it could be something that some carriers allow, and some do not, for whatever reasons they have.

    3/26/18 @ 8:11 am

    Does not work. Message on iPhone: “Cannot Turn on Calls on Other Devices”
    FaceTime and iCloud must be signed in to the same Apple ID to enable. Calls on Other Devices”

    I have only 1 iCloud account and both are signed into the same account.

    3/29/18 @ 1:10 am

    Can i call my iPhone when i have lost it in the house (from my iMac)?

    3/29/18 @ 8:19 am

    Narelle: If you have lost your iPhone nearby, there is a special function that makes it easy to find:

Comments Closed.