Fixing the “Visual Voicemail Unavailable” Error on the iPhone

Apr 16, 2013 - 70 Comments

Voicemail unavailable on the iPHone

If you’ve ever encountered the “Visual Voicemail is currently unavailable” error on when going to check new voicemail on the iPhone, there are two quick tricks that almost always fix the problem. So before calling the actual voicemail number like you’re some kind of cave dweller in the stone age of cell phones, try these speedy fixes first.

1: Toggle AirPlane Mode ON & OFF

This often works for the same reason that it resolves troubles with the iPhone getting stuck on “No Service” or the EDGE or GPRS networks, it turns the cellular modem off and on again, forcing it to regain a signal to a cell tower:

  • Open “Settings” and flip the switch next to “Airplane Mode” from OFF to ON, wait about 20 seconds then flip the switch OFF again

Airplane mode is obviously enabled because the normal wireless signal turns into a plane icon, then when turned off again it regains a signal. Again, the idea here is to reconnect to a cell tower, hopefully with a better signal which will then allow visual voicemail to function again. Head back to Voicemail and things should be working as normal again, without the error message:

Visual voicemail fixed and working again

The Airplane trick will usually resolve the unavailable voicemail issues, but if it doesn’t it may be something messed up with the actual iPhone network settings, and thus we move to the next fix.

2: Reset Network Settings

This will reset all network specific settings and in that process Be sure to make a note of Wi-Fi router passwords, as resetting network settings will ditch those in the process.

  • Go to Settings and then to “General”
  • Look for “Reset” and choose “Reset Network Settings”, confirm the reset
  • Optional but recommended: Reboot the iPhone by holding down the power button to turn it off, then turn it back on again

Give the iPhone a minute or two to rejoin the cellular data network, then go back to the Phone app and Voicemail, where everything should be back in order.

You should then no longer see the visual voicemail unavailable error message:

Visual voicemail unavailable error

This trick is fairly old and tends to resolve many issues with cellular data connections, wifi troubles, and other networking issues ranging from OTA update issues, iMessage activation errors, to the suddenly disappearing Personal Hotspot on iOS devices. You’ll find it recommended often because it almost always works, suggesting many of the network troubles of iOS are just a matter of network preferences getting corrupted or improperly configured somewhere along the lines, and just like on the desktop side of things, sometimes starting from scratch with a new preference set is all it takes.

Still Not Working? Call Voicemail Instead

Another possibility to consider is that you’re simply out of a reasonable signal range that is able to transfer data at all, thus rendering the visual voicemail feature completely inaccessible. If you’re in a rural location and can’t reconnect to a 3G, 4G, or LTE signal, this is certainly a possibility, and no amount of network tweaking is going to help. In that case just tapping the “Call Voicemail” button will allow you to check voicemail the old fashioned way through a phone call, though you will need to enter the account pin when doing so.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone


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  1. Dr. Norman Gold says:

    Thank you sooooo much! After two wildly frustrating calls with AT&T Technical Support, four agents, two supervisors, and almost an hour wasted (ultimately, they had no idea whatsoever how to fix the problem) your second recommendation IMMEDIATELY corrected my “voicemail is currently unavailable” nonsense!!!! After your first recommended “fix” did NOT work, I was afraid I was going to have to go down to the local AT&T store and waste even more time. But the “reset” fix solved the problem. You have made me a very happy man!! And your warning to have my WiFi password ready to be able to reconnect was right on the money as well! You folks are terrific, and I appreciate your help so very much!

  2. Joel cooke says:

    Thanks guys. That toggling airplane mode. Works.

  3. Thanks worked perfect reset network settings

  4. Kim says:

    Thank you, very helpful

  5. beenthere-donethat says:

    Another thing that would prevent visual voicemail is if your cellular data is turned off, which was the case with my phone.

  6. Phil Connors says:

    This problem stems from shutting OFF Cellular Data, which many people do to avoid overage charges when running low on their data plan (typically 2GB/month with Verizon).
    Simply turning Cellular Data back ON via Settings > Cellular should fix the problem.
    Note that resetting all Network Settings may make matters much worse if you do not remember all the passwords for all WiFi networks you ever joined, including your internet service provider(s) such as Comcast, etc.
    In other words, Visual Voicemail needs to use Cellular Data.

    • beenthere-donethat says:

      That was the situation I was in. I don’t like to turn on cellular data since I’m almost always connected to wifi. I wonder what else I miss, though?

  7. imed HAMMAMI says:

    Thank you so much. Very good explanation,“Successful”

  8. Rose says:

    The second suggestion works but it seems I have to do it everyday!! Why??

  9. joseph says:

    Thank you very much, the no. 2 solution worked for me.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for your help. #2 worked for me and so others will know my visual voicemail had not been working for a couple of months and with your quick and easy help I resolved it instantly👍👍👍. Thank you very much!!!

  11. Linda says:

    option 2 worked like a charm! Thank you

  12. Soapcase says:

    This could happen if your cellular data is turned off. See this answer

  13. Aaliyah says:

    None of this worked for me I’ve very disappointed

  14. Mila says:

    Works for me, number 2.

  15. Queen says:

    #2 worked great it was very helpful!!! Thanks!!

  16. Tricia says:

    #2 solved it quickly and easily! Thank you! :)

  17. Ed says:

    #2 worked immediately…great info, thanks!

  18. stephanie says:

    it worked thank you!

  19. Gerald says:

    #1 worked, thank you.

  20. Thomas says:

    #1 worked right away. Thanks! 👍🏼🙌🏽

  21. Fergie says:

    Make sure you turn your cellular data on because it wnt set up just with you wifi on for some reason

  22. Alice says:

    Thanks! Just got a new iPhone and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do this! Airplane Mode did the trick. You’d think they’d make more obvious, but then this is Apple we’re talking about…

  23. Rob Gaygan says:

    Thank you. Red dot was annoying me and your clear explanation helped enormously.

    Good work, much appreciated

  24. William faulkner says:

    How do I get the red dot of my iPhone voicemail it says I need to top up but I top up yesterday can u help me with it

  25. Mo says:

    Works like a charm, thank you.

  26. Eileen says:

    You’re my hero! Thanks.

  27. sarah says:

    thanks! i did the reset thing and it worked. had to reenter my long number for my modem again, but well worth it.

  28. Jack A Laswell Sr says:

    Thank you for the Post. As the Airplane Mode Cycle and Turning my iPhone 4S off and on worked like a charm. All is well now. It occurred after they were working on our cell towers here.

  29. Zoran says:

    THANK YOU !!!

  30. Steve Kirsch says:

    Kill the phone app first!!!

    If u just toggle airplane mode the voicemail setting in phone is still cached. You must restart the phone app.

  31. erin says:

    Thank you! Great explanation and it worked!

  32. Cat says:

    #2 worked, but I had to power off and on as well, because it didn’t quite work perfectly. I have an iPhone 4S.

  33. love2cats says:

    I bought my 5c from Virgin Mobile USA after being assured by their customer service that VV would work with my new phone. It worked great for the 1st 30 days. When I called again they said after the 1st 30 there was a monthly fee. I agreed to pay the fee, but could not get it to work. I was sent to a technician who told me VV does not work with the iPhone. My daughter had just bought the Galaxy 3 and her VV was working. The tech said VV would absolutely work with the Galaxy 3. After 30 days VV stopped working on her phone too. When she called the same thing happened to her. It won’t work even if you pay the fee. Why are they getting away with telling people they can get VV when they only get it for a month. Conveniently, by the time it stops working the chance to return or exchange the phone has ended.

  34. Janet says:

    Thank you so much. Very good explanation, easy to follow and “Successful”!

  35. June says:

    You are a genius. Worked perfectly. Thanks

  36. Kim says:

    I just turned the phone off and turned it back on! Worked like a charm.

  37. Popper1101 says:

    Option 1 worked like a charm, thanks for the post!

  38. Stephanie Mason says:

    Thank you! The reset network settings worked:)

  39. cfh says:

    Thank you, #2 ‘reset network settings’ worked for me. Very easy, pefect!

  40. ASDFG says:

    I had this issue today:

    Airplane mode didn’t work. Rather than try to reset all network settings and then having to input all wifi passwords again, instead I held Home and Power button to instant power off and then restarted which cleared the problem.

  41. Ar says:

    Agreed. Both the trouble shooting step worked for me. However, now I still have the same issue (back to square 1) I don’t want to Turn off my phone or go to airplane mode or Network reset. Is there any permanent fix for this issue ?

  42. claire says:

    While this method of turning the cellular on does work, it then means you are using both wifi and cellular to regain your visual voicemail” but aren’t you then going to incur larger cell phone bills by using cellular data—especially using music, podcast apps, audible etc? Thank you in advance for any assistance regarding this issue.

  43. MVH says:

    worked like magic once again

  44. Rhonda says:

    Thank you! Worked!

  45. John Anthony says:

    If the solutions in this article do nto work for you, call voicemail, reset your password to a new one, and then do a reboot (hold home button and power button simultaneously until it turns off).

  46. Monica says:


    Does the “Cell Data” have to be turned on in order for the Visual voicemail to work? I have wifi at home and at work.

  47. Austin Gibbons says:

    Had “vvm unavailable”. Believe it started when I upgraded to ios 7.1.
    Doing the network reset followed by phone reboot worked for me. Thanks much.

  48. shirley says:

    visual voivemail is currently unavailable and how to return to regular voicemail.

  49. Kevin says:

    Option #2 worked like a charm. Thank you very much.

    • Kevin says:

      If you do option #2, your WiFi network(s) will reset. Therefore you will need to reconnect to any WiFi network setup on your phone.

      Make sure you can remember those network passwords, before resetting “Network Settings” or you will be screwed.

  50. James says:

    works like a charm, well done

  51. Jaime Camacho says:

    Thanks so much. Excellent, very well detailed explained. Worked for me.

  52. mcfc says:

    I had this problem until I found your page. I tried both and number two worked! Thanks!
    ps: I’m still curious as to why this happens…..

  53. Jess says:

    It works!! Thank you!!

  54. Fletcher says:

    Another reason it might not work is if you’ve tried to minimize your data use by connecting to a wireless network and then switching cellular data to “off”. Personally, I did not expect a problem with any feature over my wi-fi.

    • Allen says:

      That’s what I did and that’s what happened. And when I turned cellular data back on, I got the instant voicemail back.

      • Sheila says:

        Turning cellular data on worked for me too. I have it turned off to prevent excess international data usage. How crazy you need that on to get voicemail! Thanks for your help!

  55. Hyhybt says:

    The thing that fixed it for me was force-quitting the phone app.

  56. Celia says:

    Thank you so much. Youir directions are easy to follow and worked instantly.

  57. Roderick says:

    Not so fast! Under Virgin, it appears that the Visual Voicemail is disabled, and had to be subscribed to (for a price!) That’s right; an iPhone functionality is disabled and will be restored for a price. Clearly they want you to think that this is a feature they offer to enhance your phone (as would be the case with an Android or BB phone). Sucks, Virgin! Bad Form!

  58. Ali says:

    Thank you for the SIMPLE answer!

  59. Ana says:

    Network settings reset worked!!! Thanks a million!

  60. Willem says:

    Option #2 – reset network settings – did the trick. Thanks very much for posting this.

  61. Lynn says:

    Number 2, reset network settings worked like a charm!! Thank you!

  62. JHS says:

    Thank you very much…

    Reset the network setting did the trick

  63. FRP says:

    Visual Voicemail had not operated since September when I updated iOS. I finally have the solution thanks to you!

    #2 Reset Network Settings worked.

  64. Jim says:

    Thanks very much for posting this information. I followed your advice and the problem is solved. Hurray!

  65. Verne says:

    #2 Reset Network Settings
    Works like a charm. Thanks! I’m subscribing to OS X Daily right now.

  66. Scottito says:

    THANK YOU!!!!

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