Whether you are into all the social media sites and no minute in the day can pass without you checking either your Facebook, Twitter or email, or whether you simply want a cheap and fun way to call your friends or family, Skype can be used by all.
Skype hit a new record in user numbers in March, passing the milestone of 30 million users online using the service at the same time. The service appears to be picking up a million extra simultaneous users per month.
If you’ve never used Skype before, follow this simple introduction to getting set up using the service.
What Version of Skype Do I Need?
When you first download Skype from: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/ – you will need to decide what version of Skype to download. Remember though: you can install Skype on multiple devices and simply log in each time using just one username.
You will need to choose whether you need Skype for Windows, Mac or Linux for use on your computer.
You can also download Skype for mobile and Skype for some TVs. Not all TVs can run Skype, but it is available in Panasonic internet-connected widescreen HDTVs and certain internet connected Samsung TVs.
Free Skype or Paid For Skype?
You also have a choice between choosing a free version of Skype, or a paid-for version. Free Skype lets you make Skype-to-Skype calls and one-to-one video calls, as well as instant messaging and screen sharing.
There are a couple of different versions of paid for Skype, which in addition to the free Skype features have additional features, too. These include a Pay-as-You-Go model, which lets you make discounted regular calls to phones and mobiles, send text messages and use features such as call forwarding. The subscription service is similar to the Pay-as-You-Go service but it offers discounted phone rates to subscribers.
There is also a Skype Premium service, which in addition to the services mentioned above also means that you can participate in group video calling and also benefit from help via live chat support.
Obviously if you just want to make the odd video-to-video call, choose the Free Skype download to get started.
Setting Skype Up
Once you have downloaded Skype for your computer you will be asked to set up an account. Adding details such as a username, password, email and possibly your mobile phone number will be required.
Once you have this ready you can log in and start finding friends and contacts. There is a tool that will look for contacts you may know through the people you have in your email account, so even if you don’t know all of your contact’s Skype details you can find them.
Or if you know your friend’s username you can search for them individually.
When you add a friend the system will ask you to send them an invitation to the contact requesting their friendship. Once they have accepted you can start messaging or calling them and them you. You will be able to see when they are online and vice versa.
Your Skype Profile
To make your account more complete your next step should be to fill in your profile page. This is where you can upload a picture of yourself: this will help contacts identify you as you and is very handy if you have a fairly common name or perhaps have chosen an unusual username.
Skype gives you the option to add a message to your contacts which can say something about you – why you are using Skype perhaps, or perhaps why you love your friends.
You can also go into more detail about your likes and dislikes in the ‘About Me’ section.
If you are a fan of Facebook but would prefer to only have one social media site up at one time, then you can link your Facebook account to your Skype one to view the news feed in the Skype window while you are chatting to friends.
Video Calling Using Skype
Skype perhaps made its name with its free Skype to Skype calls and video calls, making it easier for more people to stay in touch like never before.
A phone conversation works the same way as a video call, but without the webcam – all you need to do is select the contact from the left hand navigation where your contacts are displayed and then press ‘call’.
If the person you are trying to call is not logged onto Skype then you will not be able to get through – unless you are directly calling their mobile or landline phone, but that will cost you money!
Make sure you have the speakers on your computer turned on so you can hear the other person on the end of the line. Also, ensure you have a microphone to speak into, this may already be installed on your computer or laptop, or you may have to buy one.
You can purchase a special Skype headset which will provide headphones and a microphone to contact people with via Skype.
For video calls you will require a webcam. Many laptops and desktops come with web cams installed these days, so check to see if you do have one already installed before going out to buy one.
If you do have to buy a webcam they are easy to set up by plugging in to your computer, usually via a USB lead. If it doesn’t happen automatically you will have to help your Skype account find the webcam to enable it to make video calls: it is worth doing the webcam test that Skype throws up once it has found the webcam. This is to check the sound and picture is working in sync.
If you have a Skype date set up to chat with someone, something many people forget to do is actually log into Skype itself! You can access Skype via the programs section of your computer. Also, make sure your speaker’s are on.
When a call comes in the call should make a loud ‘bubble’ type noise and the Skype screen will show that your contact is calling you. To answer, all you have to do is press the ‘answer call’ button which will appear – or of course, you can choose to ignore them!
Messaging using Skype
The messaging function on Skype operates in a similar way to MSN Messenger and Facebook Chat. It is quite easy to do, and you can have more than one conversation at a time.
So if you are having a phone conversation with your family, you can message your friend if they are online at the same time.
To start a message all you have to do is click on the username of a contact in the left hand navigation and you will then be able to start messaging them in the message box – pressing enter when you wish to send your message.
Other Features on Skype
There are many cool features included in Skype which can really make your user experience easier. This includes the ability to set it up on Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones, so you can receive Skype calls on your phone and even make calls via Skype to Skype, too.
You can also get Skype on your TV if you have a home cinema system which can connect to the internet. This is great as it means the whole family will be able to sit round the television and chat to a loved one like they were in the room with them, whether they are in the house next door, an hour or two away, or even on the other side of the world.