Back in April, I gave an overview of the popular instant message program, Skype. I covered how to sign up for and install Skype, as well as explained some of its functionality as a convenient IM tool.
Skype is a fantastic (and free) way to audio or video chat from computer to computer. Now is a great time to learn how both audio and video chatting work on Skype so you can keep in touch with friends and family, no matter where in the world they happen to be.
Setup tips for either video or audio chat
The great thing about Skype is that there's no need for advanced knowledge required to get it up and running. The same goes for ensuring you're ready to start audio or video chatting.
Many laptops and PCs have built-in microphones and webcams. If that applies to you, you should be set. If you need to use an external device for audio or video, the best thing you can do is plug it in before launching Skype. Make sure any required drivers are installed before before launching Skype as well.
Upon launch, Skype should automatically detect any built-in devices or those connected via USB. If it does, and this is the first time you're using Skype to audio or video chat, you should receive messages based on your personal setup.
Click on either link provided in the pop-up to proceed to set up, or follow the manual instructions below, in the alternative.
Setup and test calling
To set up audio manually, click on Tools at the top of Skype’s main interface and choose Options from the drop-down menu.
On the left column under the General tab, choose Audio settings. From here, you can see what microphones Skype recognizes as usable options for making calls, as well as adjust the volume of your speakers. Then click Make a free test call near the bottom of the screen.
The test call gives you the opportunity to record a message and make sure your microphone's working. End the call by clicking the little red phone icon. After recording, Skype will play your message back to you. If you can hear your own message, you should be set to make a real call!
Audio chat with another Skype user
Audio chatting is free to do, and just requires an internet connection. Choose a friend who's online on your buddy list, and double click on their user name.
Click the green Call button and Skype will try to connect you. The other user has the option to accept or decline the call.
If you decide you want to add video as well, just click the video camera icon that has the red strike-through line to activate your webcam.
Setup and test calling
To set up video manually, click on Tools at the top of Skype’s main interface and choose Options from the drop-down menu.
On the left column under the General tab, choose Video settings. From here, you'll be taken a to screen that should activate your video camera so you can see whether it works and is placed in a location where it captures a good frame with you in it.
If you want to tweak brightness, contrast, and other features, click the Webcam settings button on the right. You can also check out our blog post on how to optimize your next video call.
If you want to change or add a profile picture to your account, click the Change your profile picture button on the left.
Video chat with another Skype user
Video chatting is free to do, and requires an internet connection (and a webcam, of course!). Choose a friend who's online on your buddy list, and double click on their user name.
Click the green Video call button and Skype will try to connect you. The other user has the option to accept or decline the call.
If you have audio already set up on your computer, that feature will start up automatically once the call is accepted.
Now that you've got all the basics down, you should be able to use Skype without any issues. If you do encounter a problem, please let us know in the comments section and we'll try to help you out!