Skype is a handy video and voice-calling service that allows users to call family and friends and have face-to-face conversations via the internet. It is free to download and use – all you need is the Skype software, a good internet connection and a webcam (inbuilt into your computer or as an attachment).
Note: You can use Skype on your smartphone – it will work over 3G and 4G internet connections. But be aware. It will chew through your data, so consider connecting to wifi first.
Once you’ve set up an account with your email address and password, you’re ready to add contacts. To do this, you’ll need your contacts’ email addresses or Skype names (just ask them) and then click ‘Add Contact’. Skype allows you to add as many contacts as you wish. If you connect through your Facebook or Microsoft accounts, your contacts can be easily added all at once.
To chat to someone over Skype, it’s usually best to let them know beforehand that you’ll be calling, as otherwise, they might not be at the computer to answer.
If you have a webcam built into your computer, it will turn on once the Skype software has opened. On both Mac and PC, a little light will turn on beside the webcam to let you know it is connected. If you’re using a webcam attachment, ensure it’s turned on and synced with Skype.
Most laptops (and Mac desktops) have inbuilt speakers that will automatically connect, but most PC desktops will require an external microphone. If you have earphones with an inbuilt speaker, simply plug them into the headphone jack.
Making a call
Select the person you wish to call by clicking their name in the left sidebar. Then, in the top right corner of the screen you will see a telephone icon beside a camera icon. Click the camera icon to make a video call. A dial tone should ring just like a regular telephone, and the person will be able to answer. When you see their face or hear their voice, you’re talking on Skype!
You can use Skype to make calls to a landline or mobile number, but you will have to pay for this service by signing up for Skype Credit.