How to Use Skype on Your Chromebook

By Chris Hoffman on May 2nd, 2015

Microsoft does offer a web-based version of Skype, so you can chat with your friends on your Chromebook. There’s no official voice or video support yet, but there are ways around that.

If you depend on Skype for voice-and-video chatting, you may want to try Google Hangouts instead. Hangouts works well across Chromebooks, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Use Skype for Web (Instant Messaging Only)

Microsoft now provides a version of Skype that works directly in a browser, and even works for Chromebooks. This is a beta, so the video and voice calling doesn’t work yet in some browsers, including Chromebooks. They might open this up in the future, however.

You can head to web.skype.com in your browser, login, and start using instant messenger.

Text Chat on Outlook.com

Skype is often considered a voice-and-video-calling application, but it’s more than that. Many people just use Skype for text chatting, especially after it absorbed the old Windows Live Messenger (aka MSN Messenger.)

You can connect to Skype and send text messages with your contacts from Outlook.com. Just log in to your account and use the built-in chat feature in Outlook.com, which connects to Skype. This hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves — Outlook.com’s chat feature is basically just a web version of Skype.

On Windows and Mac, users can install a Skype plug-in to have video and voice calls from Outlook.com, as well. In the future, Microsoft will hopefully switch to WebRTC for plug-in-free Skype calling on Outlook.com, and Skype will then be available on your Chromebook and every other device. For now, the lack of Skype helps Microsoft slam Chromebooks with their “Scroogled” ads.

To use this feature, head to Outlook.com, sign in, and click the messaging icon at the top-right corner of your inbox. Click the “Sign in or join” link next to Skype if you haven’t already set up Skype on Outlook.com.

Install the Skype Android App

Google is working on an Android runtime for Chrome. Ultimately, this is a compatibility layer designed to let you run any Android app directly on Chrome OS, giving Chromebooks access to all the Android apps that exist. It doesn’t work perfectly just yet and requires some fiddling, but it’s an option.

Skype has an Android app, and you can now install that Android app on Chrome OS. If you have an Android device, you can install Skype for Android and the ARChon Packager app. The packager app can then package up the Skype Android app into a Chrome app. You can then share the generated app using Android’s share feature and upload it to Google Drive, where it will be available on your Chromebook’s Files app.

First, install the Archon runtime on your Chromebook. Next, extract the Skype app and install it by opening the Extensions page in Chrome, activating “Developer mode,” and using the “Load unpacked extension” button. This is probably the easiest option.

If you just have a Chromebook, you can use the twerk Chrome app for this. You’ll just have to get an official Skype APK file to package it with. (Note that the “Developer mode” option here just activates some additional features on the Extensions page. It’s different from the “Developer Mode”  feature below that allows you to install Linux.)

Use Skype for Linux in Developer Mode

This is probably the most complicated option here, but it will certainly work. Microsoft still provides an officially supported version of Skype for the Linux desktop. This application can’t be installed directly in Chrome OS. However, you could put your Chromebook into Developer Mode and install a standard Linux environment alongside Chrome OS. You’d then have a Linux system and you could switch back and forth between your Linux desktop with a keyboard shortcut.

With Linux installed, you could install the Skype package from Microsoft. You’d then have a Skype desktop application running on your Chromebook. This will only work on Intel-based Chromebooks, not ARM-based ones — Skype is only available for Intel-based Linux systems.

This is a fairly extreme option, and the average Chromebook user who just wants Skype won’t want to go through this process. However, if you desperately need Skype — or if you also want to use other desktop Linux applications like Minecraft, Steam, and whatever else — the full Linux system is an option available to you.


The average Chromebook user will probably want to text-chat with their Skype contacts via Outlook.com and pick up their smartphone when it’s time to make a Skype voice or video call. That’s the easiest, most well-supported option here.

But, if you’re willing to be adventurous, the Skype Android app may work fairly well for you. Better yet, people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with desktop Linux in a Chromebook’s developer mode have a full, officially supported Linux version of Skype waiting for them. However, you should be warned that the Skype client for Linux isn’t as nice as the ones for Windows and Mac — it’s a little neglected. But, to be fair to Microsoft, Skype for Linux was neglected even before Microsoft purchased Skype.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/2/15
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