Get started with Cisco Webex softphone calling


Target audience: Faculty and staff members who have been provisioned with Cisco Webex software and phone setup.

At McGill, the Cisco Webex app is being implemented as a "softphone", giving you the ability to make and receive phone calls using your McGill number from your computer, mobile smartphone or tablet. It does not replace Microsoft Teams, which is the recommended tool for group meetings, audio / video / text chatting and collaborating with your internal McGill colleagues, nor Zoom, which you will continue to use for remote teaching and learning activities.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Telephone Evolution Project

McGill is currently replacing its legacy telephone system with a Cisco voice over IP solution. Find out more on the Telephone Evolution Project website.

Once IT Services has activated your phone in the new system, follow the instructions below to begin using Cisco Webex to make and receive phone calls from your computer.

In this article:

Step 1: Download and install the Cisco Webex application

The screenshots below were taken on Windows, but installation steps are similar on other devices and operating systems.


NOTES about installation:

  • Look for the Webex app icon (see image below):

    Webex icon 

  • Working remotely: If you are working remotely and accessing your work computer via Remote Desktop, you need to install Webex on your local computer in order to make and receive calls; you will not hear the audio when using Webex from your work computer over Remote Desktop.

  • Language: The Webex app should be installed in the language of your operating system; i.e., if your Windows is in French, the French version of Webex will be installed.

Choose the appropriate download:

Windows computers managed by IT Customer Services (ICS)

Search for "Software Center" from your Windows search box.

Open the Software Center, and search for "Cisco Webex".

After the installation, you will not be prompted to restart; however, a restart is needed in order to ensure you can connect properly to the Cisco phone system.

Personal Windows & Mac computers (not managed by IT Customer Services)

Download the Webex app directly from the Cisco Webex downloads site

Run the installer (64-bit for most Windows 10 + systems). You will be prompted to accept the terms of use agreement.

Linux (Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux)

There are two Cisco Webex versions for Linux:

  • .DEB for Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04
  • .RPM for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 and 8.3 (NOTE: This version does not work with the latest version of Fedora)

There are some limitations on the Linux version. Find additional information, and download/installation instructions at Webex app for Linux

Mobile app for iOS and Android

To install Webex on a smartphone or tablet, download the free Cisco Webex mobile app from the Apple store or Google Play store.

After downloading the app, run the installer and accept any prompts for notifications.

After installing, continue with these steps...

  1. Depending on which installation method you used, you will either be prompted to sign in right away, or you'll need to search for the Webex app (in the Windows search box) and open it. Sign in using your McGill username (the one you use to access most applications).

    Welcome to Webex - sign in

  2. Click Next. You will be brought to McGill’s sign-in page, where you can enter your McGill password and sign in.

    McGill sign in

  3. You should now see a message saying emergency 911 calls do not provide accurate location data on softphones. If you use Webex to call 911, the location provided will be McGill campus.

    Click OK.

    Emergency notifications message



    If you do not see the message about emergency numbers, it usually means the phone service is not yet enabled, or there may be a problem. See Known issues with Webex or Report a Telephone Issue to the IT Service Desk.

  4. Your Webex app is now activated. Signing into your McGill account ensures the softphone app is linked to your McGill phone number, and you can make and receive calls.

    When Webex starts for the first time, it may bring you to some informational startup pages, but you can simply navigate straight to the Calling page, shown below.

    Webex feature

  5. To make sure Webex is always running in the background, click the Profile & preferences icon, in the upper left corner; choose Settings (Options on Mac), and make sure the checkbox labeled Start Webex when my computer starts is checked.

    Webex settings

  6. Proceed to set up your Voicemail PIN, below.

Step 2: Set up your PIN and voicemail greeting



  1. Your Cisco PIN is a minimum of 5 digits, and is used to access voicemail system within Webex. To set your PIN initially:
    1. If you are working remotely, log into McGill's VPN.
    2. Go to the
    3. You will be prompted to enter a new PIN; it must be at least 5 digits and sufficiently random (e.g., not consecutive or repeating numbers). Re-enter the PIN and click Change PIN

      Reset PIN on Self Care Portal

    You may now close the Self Care Portal window and proceed to customize your voicemail name and greeting message.

  2. Call the voicemail system directly from the Webex app:
    • Click on the Voicemail voicemail icon icon and then click the Call Voicemail button, at the top of the message pane.

      Call voicemail system

  3. When prompted, click the keypad button and enter your PIN followed by the # symbol.

    Press Keypad button to enter your PIN

  4. Listen and follow the audio prompts from the voicemail system to:
    • Record your name
    • Record a personalized greeting message
    • Record alternate greetings for when you are out of the office, on holidays, etc.

You can also call the voicemail system from any external phone by dialing 514-396-1000; you will need to choose the Cisco voicemail system.



You may be prompted to reset your PIN yet again in the voicemail system. It seems you can just ignore that prompt and exit the system. You will, however, need to reset your Cisco PIN once a year.

Step 3: Make a Webex call

  1. If the Webex app is not open, search for it on your computer and open the app. It may be open in the background. On Windows you may find it in the hidden icons.

    Look for Webex in your hidden icons

  2. Click the Calling button (telephone icon) on the left navigation pane to open the keypad window.

    Search for name

    Search for the party by name or enter the phone number directly-- digits only, no spaces, parentheses or dashes
    • Local calls: dial the full 10 digits
    • Long distance throughout Canada and US: 1 + area code + phone number
    • Overseas calls: 011 + country code + city code + phone number
  3. note

    REMINDER: Changes to dialing

    External numbers do not require you dial 9, and there are no long distance charges for numbers within Canada and the U.S. If you require international calling, you must make a request to have that service enabled (will require approval from your unit's Telephone Coordinator).

  4. Click Audio at the bottom of the window for a simple audio-only call.
    Note that Video calls can only be made to users who also have the Webex app installed and running, similar to Microsoft Teams.

  5. On Windows, if you see a Windows Defender security alert, simply click Allow access.

IMPORTANTT: Difference between "Call on Webex" and Work phone number

When looking up McGill people, you will often see two options: their 10-digit Work phone number or Call on Webex. There is a difference.

webex call vs. phone call

  • Work number call: This is equivalent to dialing the number and making a regular phone call. If you will be conferencing with McGill internal numbers and external people in the same call, always choose the phone number. This option also allows you to leave a voice mail if the person does not answer, and if the person has set up call forwarding or single-number reach, they may be able to receive your call via their home or mobile phone.
  • Call on Webex: This is a video/audio chat through the app, similar to a call on Microsoft Teams. You can only use this when the person is active on the system. The Call on Webex option does not allow you to leave a voice mail, and the calling features like call forward and single-number reach (rings on their computer and alternative phones) do not apply. Also, you will not be able to add another participant from an external number.


  • If you make frequent calls, simply keep the Webex app open on your desktop.
  • If you are making a Webex call that includes a McGill internal person, make sure that person is not also in a Teams meeting with you; otherwise, you will hear them in your speakers through Teams and in the Webex app at the same time.
  • If you connect to the VPN (or disconnect) while on a Webex call, the call will be terminated and you will need to call back.

Receiving a call

When someone phones you, you will hear an audio ringtone and see a pop-up. Click Answer, or Decline to let it go to voicemail.

Incoming call

You can choose different ringtones for calls and other notifications. See Personalize your Webex app.