The Beginner's Guide to Skype

Skype. the popular Internet calling app, has been around for quite some time. The (mostly) free service launched in 2003, and has become one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stay in touch with others across the world.

Whether you're traveling internationally or want to save money when calling others, Skype has become a great option because it's accessible through computers, phones, tablets, home phones, TVs and even devices like your Xbox One.

Ready to plunge into the Skype action? Here's a quick go-to guide for newbies.

1. Sign up.

Getting started is as easy as any other app. To open an account, visit the Skype homepage and click "Join us " in the upper right-hand corner.

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

Choose how you want to log in. You'll see you have the choice to sign in with your existing Facebook or Microsoft account, or you can create an account just for Skype.

You can sign up with your existing Facebook or Microsoft account, or create your own account just for Skype.

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

If you choose to connect with your Facebook account, the benefit is that you’ll be able to view your Facebook News Feed and contact your Facebook friends in Skype. This means you'll be able to share, like, comment and view updates from your Facebook friends.

On the Facebook News Feed in Skype, you can hover your mouse over your friend’s update, which will show if she is available for phone or video calling. If your friend's mobile or landline number shows, you can call her using Skype credit or a subscription (see below). If your Facebook friend also has Skype, you can call her for free by tapping "Call Skype." If no options appear, this means your friend has not registered her phone number on her Facebook profile, and that she is not your Skype contact.

A screenshot of a Facebook News Feed in Skype. You can share, like, comment and view updates from your Facebook friends and pages you follow. To post a status, type in the blank text field that is circled in red above.

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

The drawback to connecting Skype to your Facebook account is that you'll have to give Skype permission to access your public profile, friend list, email address, News Feed, birthday, status updates, check-ins, hometown, current city, photos, videos, website and personal description. You’re also allowing Skype to gain access to your friends' information.

You can always connect your Facebook account at a later date. If you’re a Mac user. go to "Skype Home," click on the grey gear symbol and choose "Connect to Facebook." If you’re a Windows user, go to the "Contacts" tab, scroll down to "All," and select "Facebook."

Once you decide how you want to log in to Skype, enter your information in the required fields, and you're ready for the next step.

2. Download Skype.

After setting up your account, you may be asked if you would like to buy Skype credits, which are used to make phone calls to mobile phones or landlines. Remember, calling other Skype users is always free, but calling phones and landlines costs money. If you’re not sure you want to purchase credit, skip this for now — we’ll come back to it in the sixth step.

Now, go ahead and download Skype:

For Mac users: Save the Skype file to your computer. Double-click the download file and drag the Skype icon to your Application folder. Then, open Skype from your Application folder and log in with your Skype name and password.

For Windows users. Save the Skype Setup Application to

your computer. Double-click the Skype Setup file and follow the steps to install. Launch the Skype application and sign in with your Skype name and password.

If it's your first time logging in, you may be asked to customize your settings, such as your language preference, and if you want Skype to launch when your computer starts. If so, check off "Run Skype when the computer starts."

You'll also be asked if you want to install the feature "Click to Call ," which is handy for when you want to call phone numbers listed on websites. Numbers across the web will be marked "free" if local businesses partners have decided to pick up the cost of your calls. This is especially useful when you're browsing the web and want to make a free call to a business.

To use the "Click to Call" feature on Skype, check off "Install Skype Click to Call."

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

3. Check your audio and video settings.

A screenshot on a Mac computer of the "Audio/Video" settings in Preferences.

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

Next, you'll need to check if your audio and video equipment is working. If you skip over this step now, don't worry — here's how to adjust and check your settings at any time:

For Mac users: Click "Skype" at the upper left-hand corner and scroll down to "Preferences." Then click on the "Audio/Video" button.

For Windows users: Go to "Call" and click "Audio settings." Below it, you’ll see "Video settings."

Once you're in the settings page, here’s what to check for:

Make sure your speakers are on. If you can hear the Skype jingle, you're good.

Check that your voice can be heard through the microphone. If not, choose the appropriate microphone from the drop-down menu.

Check to see if your webcam is connected. If so, you should be able to see yourself on the live video feed. If not, check your video settings and make sure your webcam is plugged in correctly.

4. Set up your profile.

Profile settings

When setting up your account, you may have already been asked if you would like to change your profile picture. To change this and more, click on your name on the upper left-hand corner and all your profile settings will appear. You can edit your phone numbers, email addresses, country, state, gender, birthday, and add a blurb about yourself in "About Me."

You can add as little or as much information as you want. The column on the right will display "Public" (information everyone using Skype can view), "Contacts only" (information your contacts can only see), or "Private" (visible to only you) for each field. If these words are grayed out, they're disabled, which means you cannot change the privacy setting.

You’ll have to choose what information you want to share based on that privacy setting. For example, your country and state are public. If you aren't comfortable with sharing this information, it’s best to leave it blank.

If "Public," "Contacts only" and "Private" are grayed out, these settings are disabled and cannot be changed.

Image: Screenshot Kyli Singh

Setting your mood

You’ll notice that Skype has an "Add a mood message" option in your profile settings. The mood is a short message you can add to your profile to let your friends and family know what you’re up to or what you’re thinking. Similar to a status, you can post a comment, quote, a web link and more.

You can add a short message about how you feel or what you're thinking in the "Add a mood message" field.


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