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How to use Skype

Skype is outstanding. Anyone can download it, and you can use it to chat face to face (so to speak) or make a regular voice call. It’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s free. And who doesn’t love free stuff?

Getting started with the popular calling app may take some getting used to if you’ve never used it before. If you’re a Microsoft Windows 10 user, then this Skype guide is for you.

Getting set up

The first step in using Skype is downloading it and setting up your account. They are two steps that are far easier today than they’ve ever been and will get you well on the way to your first Skype chat or call.

Step 1: Open your browser of choice and navigate to the Skype homepage. Click the big blue Get Skype button, and it will open the corresponding Microsoft store page. Alternatively, open the Microsoft Store yourself by clicking the taskbar icon or searching for “Microsoft Store“ in the search box. When there, search for “Skype” and click the corresponding app page.

Step 2: Click the blue Get button to download and install Skype for Windows 10. The Microsoft Store may ask you if you want to use it across multiple devices, in which case you must sign in with your Microsoft account. If you’d rather just have a dedicated Skype account, choose No Thanks.

Step 3: Skype should have installed on your system. To start it up, use the search box in your Windows taskbar and look for Skype. When it pops up in the search box, click the corresponding icon.

Step 4: If you already have a Skype account, you can log in with your Skype name, email, or phone number and skip through to the next section. To make a new account, click Create a New Account.

Step 5: You can sign up for a Skype account with an email address or phone number. It’s totally up to you which you would prefer to link with your new account. When you’ve decided, input the relevant information and click Next. Note: Doing so automatically causes you to agree with Microsoft’s services agreement and privacy statement.

Step 6: The next screens will ask you to input personal information like age, name, and location. Input all of that, and continue through the installation process. When asked for a verification code, check your corresponding email or phone number and input the code.

Step 7: If asked for a CAPTCHA code, input that, and click Create Account. You now have a functioning Skype account.

Finding friends and family

Where once you needed to know all of your friends’ details to add them as Skype contacts, today, all you need to know is a single piece of information. You can then find them quickly and start chatting straight away.

Step 1: When you first log in to your account, Skype will ask you if you want to import your existing contacts. If you already have some set up on your Microsoft account, doing so will fill out your contact list immediately.

Step 2: To find anyone else you want to talk to, select the Search Skype box in the top left corner and search for their actual name, Skype name, or email address.

Step 3: If your friend has a common name — and sometimes if they don’t — you may find that there are several people to choose from in the list that pops up. Use profile pictures to find the person you’re looking for, or click the contact, then select the name at the top of the window to view their profile information.

That’s it! You’re ready to chat. Anyone you talk to will automatically join your contact list.

Text chats

Perhaps you want to play hooky at work without anyone catching on that you’re chatting away with your friend. Maybe you want to keep a sensitive conversation from being overheard in the subway. Text chats are just as useful today as they’ve ever been; there’s a reason Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp remain two of the most popular apps in the world. Here’s how to text chat on Skype.

Step 1: Select the person you want to talk to, either from the list of recent conversations on the left or your contact list at the top of the window or by selecting the chat bubble. Doing so will open up a chat on the right side of the app window.

Image of Skype Chat Bubble

Step 2: Click the bottom of the conversation panel where it says Type a Message. Type what you want to say and hit enter, or click the send arrow on the right side.

Step 3: Await a response. Rinse and repeat!

Voice calls

When Skype first launched, its big selling point was its voice over internet protocol (VOIP) abilities. As the company expanded its services, it would extend capabilities to third-party recipients like house or cell phones, but internal calls between accounts on Skype are still as popular as ever. Setting up a call is as easy as ever.

Step 1: Make sure you have a compatible microphone and headphones/speaker set up. Plug them in, and make sure Skype has picked them up by clicking the three-dot menu at the top of the window, then going to Settings. You can leave your speakers and microphone as the default device, but you can specify your chosen input and output options with the drop-down menus as you desire.

If you want to test that your hardware works correctly, use the Test Audio link in the Settings menu. Alternatively, call Skype’s Echo services using the same steps as below.

Step 2: Select the contact or person you want to talk to the same way as the text chats.

Step 3: Click the Blue Phone icon in the top right corner. If that person is online and Skype is open, you will then call them directly. If they accept the call, you will begin a voice call automatically.

If someone rings you in the same manner, just click the corresponding button to pick up the call. Directly next to the receiving button is the reject button that will silence or end the call.

Video calls

If you want to personalize your calls, you can use the video call option on Skype. As long as you have a webcam, you’re all set for a face-to-face conversation.

Step 1: Check that your webcam is compatible with Skype by selecting the three-dot menu icon and choosing Settings. Click Default Device under the video heading at the top of the page and select your webcam from the drop-down menu.

If you want to double-check that it’s working correctly, toggle the Test Video button in the Settings menu. If you can see yourself on the video feed, then your camera is compatible with Skype.

Step 2: When ready, select the contact you want to call and click the blue camera icon in the top right corner. You can also start a voice call, and then add video by clicking the camera button directly from the call window.

While you’re on the call, you’ll be able to see a small version of your video feed in the bottom right corner. If your friend starts their webcam in return, you’ll see them in the main window.

Step 3: If you want to text chat during the call for whatever reason, click the Text Chat button in the top right corner of the video call window. Your video screen will become smaller so you’ll be able to access the chat options below the feed.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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