Search

Skype Basics

February 01, 2012

Skype is a free program that allows you to communicate with other Skype users for free on your computer using video, voice or instant message. It also allows you to dial any phone, whether it is a land-line phone or a cell phone or conference call number, for pennies a minute. This one-pager covers the basics.

Did You Know?

  • ┬áMost laptops have built in microphones and speakers, so you don't have to have a headset to use Skype.
  • Skype can be used to call any phone in the world. Calls to telephones are very inexpensive.
  • Skype is available on some mobile phones, too.

The Basics

To use Skype, you need to download the software at www.skype.com. You also need to have at least a microphone and speakers or headphones. Most laptops have a built-in microphone and they all have speakers. Using the built-in microphone and speakers allows you to use Skype like a speakerphone.

You can get a combination headphone-microphone that plugs into your computer or laptop. That gives you better sound quality for your voice and privacy for your discussion. The headphone-microphone combinations are called headsets. You can also get earbuds with a microphone built into the cord.

The ultimate setup is to have a video camera, microphone and speaker, either purchased separately or built in to your laptop. This is the only way you can do video calls.

Although it is cool to video calls, you can use Skype for voice-only calls or for instant messaging. A video camera is absolutely NOT required to use Skype.


300 x200 Skype Call options

Options. Skype provides for several ways to communicate. Even if you have no video camera, you can connect on Skype using audio alone. And you can do audio-only calls if you don't want to do video.

Using Skype

After you install Skype, you can search for other Skype users using the built-in "Contacts" search. You can also manually add phone numbers of people you know. With some contacts in your list, here's what you can do:

  • Communicating with Skype Users: If you have a video camera on your computer, you can do a video call to any Skype user in your contact list for free by clicking "Video Call". If you don't want to do a video call, you can do an audio-only call by clicking "Call". You can also type a text message to any Skype user, and it will show up on their version of Skype.
    Starting with a Video Call also allows you to "share" part or all of your computer display. This is very helpful when collaborating with others.
  • Calling Telephone Numbers: You can dial a number from Skype or create a contact and save the number so it shows up in your Contacts list. This is handy for conference calls if you like to listen in and keep your hands free for other work.: If you have a video camera on your computer, you can do a video call to any Skype user in your contact list for free by clicking "Video Call". If you don't want to do a video call, you can do an audio-only call by clicking "Call". You can also type a text message to any Skype user, and it will show up on their version of Skype.
    Starting with a Video Call also allows you to "share" part or all of your computer display. This is very helpful when collaborating with others.
  • Calling Telephone Numbers: You can dial a number from Skype or create a contact and save the number so it shows up in your Contacts list. This is handy for conference calls if you like to listen in and keep your hands free for other work.


300 x 200 Skype Desktop Share

Desktop Share. After connecting to another person on a video call, either person can choose to share part or all of the desktop. This is great for collaborating, troubleshooting and explaining.

Cool Feature: Desktop Sharing

This is particularly cool. If you do a video call, either you or the other person on the call can share a view of their computer. There are many reasons to do this, such as collaborating on a document, troubleshooting a problem, walking someone through a tricky computer process or just showing a document.

Either you or your contact need to have a video camera to start the call. If only one of you has a camera, the person with the camera must start the call. Once the call is connected, a Share option is highlighted on the Call window.


300x200-skype-share

Start Sharing. After a video call is connected, both people on the call can see the Share button. This allows you to begin sharing your desktop view of your computer. You can then show any document on your computer and the person on the other end of the call can see it.