In these digital times, more workplaces are turning to Skype to reduce the need for face to face meetings. This software has so many features, but here is a simple, step by step guide on how to make a Skype call.

Things you will need:

  • Firstly, you will need a Skype account and to install the Skype programme on your computer. The Skype icon will look like this.

  • You will need speakers and a microphone. Your laptop or PC should have this built in. If not, you can purchase a webcam with a built-in microphone or buy a headphones and microphone set, which can be purchased quite cheaply.
  • If you want to make video call, you will need a webcam. Again, this is built into most laptops. However, you can opt to just have a voice call.
  • You will need to have at least one Skype contact logged in, so you have someone to talk to!

Step 1 – Download Skype and sign up for an account 

  • If you haven’t already downloaded Skype to your laptop, you will need to do this first. This is really easy to do. Head to the Skype homepage and click on ‘Get 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.
  • For Windows users: Save the Skype Setup Application to your computer. Double-click the Skype Setup file and follow the steps to install. Then just click on the Skype application to open Skype.
  • To open an account, visit the Skype homepage and click ‘Join Us’ in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Choose how you want to log in. You can either use your existing Facebook or Microsoft account, or you can create a new account just for Skype. Make a note of your username and password.
  • Once you decide how you want to log in to Skype, enter your information in the required fields.
  • 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. Calling other Skype users is always free, but calling phones and landlines costs money. Just opt to skip this section for now if you’re not sure. I generally just call other Skype users for free.
  • If it’s your first time logging in, you may be asked to customise your settings, such as your language preference, and if you want Skype to launch when your computer starts. If so, tick ‘Run Skype when the computer starts’. If not, don’t tick that box – it can get a bit annoying when you don’t need it! 

Step 2 – Logging in

  • Open up Skype on your laptop and log in using your chosen username and password.

Step 3 – Check your audio and video settings

  • Before you start, it is always best to check your audio and video equipment is working. 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.
  • Once you’re in the Audio settings page:
    • Check your microphone. If you start speaking the green volume light will appear. If not, click on the drop-down menu to choose the appropriate microphone
    • Check your speakers are on. If you click on the play button to the right-hand side, you should hear the Skype jingle.
    • Click on Video settings to check your webcam is connected. You should be able to see yourself.

Step 4 – Set up your profile

  • Once you have an account, you can click on your profile picture (if you have one) and change/add a photo and add your information – depending on how much you want to share. The column on the right will show which items are displayed as public. You can also do this by clicking on Skype. This allows you to also change your status if you wish.

Step 5 – Add contacts

  • Next, you’ll need to add your contacts to be able to speak to them. Click Contacts, Add Contacts and enter your contact’s name, email address or Skype username. Select your contact and click Add to Contacts. A default request message will appear (you can edit this if you want) and click send.
  • They will then need to accept your contact request. Once they have accepted, they will appear in your contact lists. A green tick next to their name indicates they are online and available to call.

Step 6 – Calling your contacts 

  • Click Contacts on the left-hand side and then double click the name of the friend you want to call. Your contact’s profile will now appear in a new window.
  • Next to your contact’s picture, if they have one, you will find the following buttons:

  • Video Call – This will enable you to talk to your contact face to face through your webcam. On a Mac, hover over your contact’s profile picture and Video Call should appear. You and your recipient will need to have a webcam in order for you to see each other. On a Windows computer,click on the Video Call button, which is located to the left of the call button.
  • Call Phone – For a Skype to Skype call, without using the video, click the Call Phone This will give you the option to either Call Skype, or call your contact’s contact phone number. The Skype call will be free. To make a normal phone call, it will cost you, depending on where you call. You can purchase Skype credit by heading to Skype in the left-hand corner and clicking Buy Skype Credit.
  • Create new group – If you regularly call a group of people, the third button allows you to set up a group conference call for them.

Step 7 – Messaging your contacts

  • You can also send and receive instant messages on Skype. Click on a contact in your list. At the bottom of the profile you will see a text field in which to type your message. Then click send.
  • You can also send files, photos and videos to your contacts free of charge via instant messenger. Select the chat that you want to send your file to. Next to the text box you will find icons to send images, files, video messages, contacts or even emojis. Then just click Send File.

Step 8 – Share your screen with your contacts

  • During a call, it is also possible to share screens, which enables your contact to see something on your screen such as a presentation. To do this click on Call and then Share screens. The other person, or group, will be able to see what is on your screen.

Step 9 – Other features

  • During a call, there are some other features at the bottom of your screen that you may find useful, as follows:
    • Hide/Show IM (small speech bubble icon) – This displays your instant messaging controls and text messages at the bottom of the screen. Click the icon again to get rid of them.
    • Turn off video (videocam icon) – Click this to turn off your video stream, which means that your contact 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 contact from hearing you. You might need this if you’re Skyping into a meeting and don’t want the rest of the delegates to hear your background noise when you’re not speaking.
    • 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 details on how Skype is running and if there are any problems. This 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.

Happy Skyping!