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TECH TIP
MindSpringYour Home Phone Away From Home
By Dinos Lambropoulos

If you subscribe to an EarthLink Home Phone service (trueVoice or DSL & Home Phone Service), you definitely want to check out the new MindSpring 3.0. It really expands the number of ways you can communicate. Even if you don't have our home phone service—or if you use another VoIP provider—read on to find out what you can do with EarthLink Home Phone service and MindSpring.

MindSpring 3.0, available as a free download, lets you make calls on your EarthLink Home Phone account without having to use your home phone. Now you can make calls using any computer with MindSpring installed—even on a laptop, while you're traveling—and have those calls applied against your home phone calling plan, just as if you'd made them from home.

Combined with MindSpring's many other tools (voicemail, instant messaging, file transfer, email preview, and Web search), this new integration with EarthLink Home Phone service represents the next generation of communication—and you can take advantage of it now, at no extra charge. This tech tip will show you how.

(Note: MindSpring doesn't accept incoming calls from landline or cell phone numbers at this time; you can only make outgoing calls to those numbers. We're working on this feature for a future release. MindSpring does accept incoming calls from other MindSpring users)

On the Road with Your Home Phone

So, just how do you use your home phone service away from home? Let's look at a scenario in detail:

You're traveling with a laptop computer and want to make a call. Your first thought might be to use your cell phone. But what if you don't want to use your cell plan minutes? Maybe they're running low, and you expect the call to be a long one.

If your EarthLink Home Phone plan has more available minutes than your cell phone plan (or, better yet, if you have unlimited minutes on your home phone plan), you can make your call through MindSpring instead. That goes for international calls, too — with MindSpring, you get the same low international rates you enjoy with your EarthLink Home Phone plan.

Setting up a laptop for calling is easy. Just download MindSpring and install it. You'll also need a computer headset, available at most electronics stores (if you have a computer microphone and speakers, those will work, too, but we recommend a headset for the best sound quality). And you'll need a high-speed Internet connection.

When you start MindSpring, just enter the email address and password associated with your home phone account on the sign-in screen. After you sign in, make sure MindSpring's Phone tab is selected. Then type the number you want to call, or use your mouse and the on-screen keypad. Finally, click Call. It's that easy.

MindSpring even displays the balance remaining on your home phone account (if you have limited minutes) near the top of the MindSpring window. If you have an unlimited home calling plan, you can make unlimited calls with MindSpring.

It gets better. Click the Voicemail tab and you can listen to, save, or delete home phone voicemail messages directly from MindSpring.

What if you don't have a laptop but you still want to use your home phone service while you're on the road? If you have access to any Windows PC—a friend's or relative's, for example—you can download and install MindSpring on that PC. Then follow the same steps you would follow for a laptop setup.

MindSpring in the Home or Office

As valuable as MindSpring can be on the road, it can be just as handy closer to home—or work.

Let's say you have a home computer that isn't located near a phone. If you want to make calls while you're sitting at that PC, MindSpring will do the trick. Just install it on that PC, hook up a headset, sign in using your home phone account's email address, and make calls just as if you were near a phone.

Another situation in which MindSpring comes in handy is at the office, especially if your employer has a strict policy about using office phones for personal calls. If you can install MindSpring on your work PC, you can use it to make personal calls that are charged to your home account, or check your home voicemail.

Conference Calling and Call Activity

Once you get comfortable using MindSpring for basic calls, you'll be able to enjoy another big MindSpring plus: With version 3.0, you can talk to two people at the same time.

While you're on a call, click the 2nd Call button in the call display to put your current call on hold. Then call the second person. Once you connect to the second caller, you can switch between the two callers using the Hold buttons that appear in the call display next to each caller's name or number.

To talk to both callers at the same time, just click the Conf button.

Need to see a list of previous calls? You can always sign in to myVoice for that, but if you're using MindSpring, simply click the Call Activity link near the top of the MindSpring window, and a new widow will open listing your call history.

All-in-One Communication: Other MindSpring Features

Along with its many calling features, MindSpring has a host of other communication tools you can use to keep in touch online. Here's a rundown:

  • Instant messaging: With MindSpring, you can exchange instant messages with other MindSpring users (or with Google Talk users). If you use it while you're calling someone, it's a great way to exchange text that's relevant to your conversation, like Web site URLs or email addresses. Before you can instant message someone, you'll need to add the person to your Contacts tab; once you do, you can double-click the person's name in your contacts to start an instant messaging session.
  • Email preview: MindSpring 3.0's Email tab gives you a preview of the most recent messages in your email inbox. Click a message to launch Web Mail and read it.
  • File transfer: If you want to send a photo, spreadsheet, or other file to another MindSpring user, you don't have to send it as an email attachment. MindSpring has file transfer built right in. Just start an instant messaging session with your intended recipient, and when the conversation window opens, choose Send a File or Photo from the File menu.
  • Web search: Need to run a quick search for something on the Web? There's a quick search tool at the bottom of the MindSpring window. Just type what you're looking for and click Search. Your browser will open and display your results.