How to make a Skype call
- a Skype account and the Skype program installed on your computer
- speakers and a microphone – many computers have these built in (especially laptops), many webcams also come with a microphone and you can also use a headphones-and-microphone headset that can be bought quite cheaply
- a webcam – this is optional (you can communicate just by text or voice if you want) but video calling is one of the most popular features of Skype
- at least one Skype contact logged in – after all, you’ll need someone to talk to!
- Video call – Start talking to your friend face to face through your webcam.
- Call phone – If you want to call your friend, press this button to make what amounts to a normal phone call to your friend to a phone number you’ve attached to your Skype account (you’ll need to pay for this see our guide to buying Skype credit for how to do this). Or if you just want to call someone without using video, click on the arrow next to Call Phone and choose Call Skype.
- (Plus sign) Add participants, send files, and more – Clicking on the plus sign brings up a new list of options:
- You can call multiple people at the same time, making it a conference call. When the conference window appears, click on each of your friends to select them and click on add to include them in the call. The next window will show the friends added. You can then either do a video call or a standard call without video.
- You can also send a friend files from your computer by clicking on the plus sign and then choose send file. Browse your computer for the file and click on Open. The file will be sent immediately or as soon as your friend comes online.
- You can also send contacts to a friend from the plus sign.
- It is also possible to share screens. Whilst you are on a call, this gives your friend the ability to see something on your screen, or for someone to remotely access your computer screen (this can sometimes be useful for a friend or family to resolve any problems that you might have by being able to control your computer remotely).
- Call Quality Information – This allows you to make sure that every component required to use Skype is working well enough for good-quality calls.
Hide/Show IM (small speech bubble icon) – Displays ‘instant messaging’ (chat) controls and text messages at the bottom of the screen (see link to instructions about this below). Click the icon again to get rid of them.
Turn off video (videocam icon) – Clicking this will turn off your video stream, which means that your friend will be able to hear your voice but won’t be able to see you. When it’s turned off, a red line goes through it. Click it again to restart broadcasting video.
Mute your microphone(microphone icon) – This works just like ‘Turn off video’ except that it stops your friend from hearing you. It’s very useful if you want to keep a conversation in your ‘real’ life private.
Add participants, send files, and more (plus sign icon) – This button brings up a small menu that lets you send files or contacts to your friend or add more people to the call.
End call (red handset icon) – Clicking this allows you to ‘hang up’ and end your call.
Call quality information (volume icon) – Here you’ll find a host of info that lets you know exactly how every part of Skype is running and helps you locate any problems. Since it’s to do with the strength of your broadband connection, it looks like a mobile phone reception bar.
Full Screen option for this call (screen with arrows icon) – This allows you to expand the window into full screen.
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