Skype has long been one of the most popular video-calling apps. Even better, it’s free and available on all major platforms, including iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. We’ll walk you through how to use it!
Download and Install Skype
If you’re new to Skype, the first thing you have to do is download it to your device. Whether you’re on Windows, a Mac, Linux, or an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone, you can download the appropriate version of Skype from its website.
If you go to Skype’s web portal, you can use it from your browser with video-calling functionality. Skype for the Web will only work in Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, though.
After you download the app, you’ll need to sign in to your account. If you already have a Microsoft account, you can also use it for Skype.
If you previously created a Skype account, log in with that same username or email, and password. You can also create a new account from here if this is the first time you’ve ever used Skype.
Import or Add Contacts
After you log in to Skype, the first order of business is to add your contacts. You can do this in one of two ways: give Skype access to your contacts, or add each contact’s Skype username.
When the app asks for permission to access your contacts during the sign-up process, you should allow it. This will be especially helpful if you plan to use Skype often.
If you skipped the initial prompt to allow this, you can enable it later on Skype. To do so on the desktop version, open “Settings” and click “Contacts” in the sidebar. Then, toggle-On the “Sync Your Contacts” option. This gives the app permission to access and regularly update information from your contacts.
To do this on the mobile version of Skype, go to the Chats section and tap your profile at the top. Next, go to Settings > Contacts > Sync Your Contacts to start the process.
To add a contact on the desktop app, click the Search box, and then type that person’s details. You can search for a contact’s Skype username, email address, or phone number. Whether Skype finds that person depends on his or her account information.
When you find that person’s Skype profile, right-click it, and click “Add Contact.”
On the Skype app on iPhone, iPad, or Android, go to the “Contacts” tab and tap the Search bar at the top.
Here, you can search for the person’s Skype username, or her email address or phone number. When you find the contact you want to add, tap and hold on the profile name.
In the popup, select “Add Contact.”
This person will now be listed under “Contacts.” Repeat this process for everyone you want to add.
Make a Voice Call
Now that you’ve added your Skype contacts, it’s time to make a call. Skype supports text messaging, document and media sharing, and voice and video calls.
It all happens from a single chat interface similar to WhatsApp. You use the same interface on both the desktop and mobile apps.
To get started, go to the “Chats” or “Contacts” tab in Skype, and then select the contact you want to call.
On the desktop version, the chat interface opens on the right. Select the contact, and then click the Phone icon to make your call.
On Skype mobile, select a contact. At the top of the new page that opens, tap the Phone icon next to the person’s name to call him or her.
When your contact accepts (answers), your voice call will begin. You’ll only see the profile picture of the person as this isn’t a video call.
If you want to mute your mic, just click or tap the Microphone icon. To end the call, click or tap the red End Call icon.
Make a Video Call
While the voice-call function on Skype can be useful, you probably mainly want to use it for video calls.
To start a video call, open a conversation, and then tap the Video Camera icon in the toolbar at the top.
When the recipient accepts the call, Skype opens the video-conferencing window. Here, you can see the caller’s video in the middle of the screen. Your video appears in a floating box in the top-right corner.
On the desktop app, you can control the video chat in several ways. You can mute your microphone, take snapshots, send hearts, open the chat, open the sidebar, share your screen (be careful you’re not revealing any private information), and more.
The image below shows the location of the menus and features you can use on a video call.
The interface on the mobile app is slightly toned-down. To access the extra features, tap the ellipsis (. . .) in the bottom-right corner.
In this menu, you can disable incoming video, enable subtitles, record a call, send a heart, share your screen, or add people to a call.
When you’re done chatting, tap the red End Call icon.
Make a Group Video Call
Lastly, let’s talk about group video calls on Skype. If you conduct online meetings or classes, or you just want to video chat with a group of friends or family, this is the feature you’ll use.
If you interact with the same group often, you can create a group conversation. You can also just add more people to a one-on-one video call.
To create a group chat on the desktop app, click “New Chat” under the “Chats” tab, and then select “New Group Chat.”
Type a name for the group, add a profile photo if you want, and then click the right-arrow icon to go to the next screen.
Here, you can search to add contacts to the group. After you select everyone you want to add, click “Done.”
You should now see the group chat in the Skype app. To start a video call with all the participants, click the Video Camera icon. If you want to add more participants to the group, click the Add Person icon.
To add someone during a call on the desktop app, click the Add Person icon in the top toolbar.
You can search for contacts, select them, and then click “Add.”
To do this on the mobile app, tap the pencil and tablet icon in the top-right corner under the “Chats” tab.
Here, tap “New Group Chat.”
Name the group, add a photo if you want, and then tap the right-facing arrow.
You can search for contacts, and then tap those you want to add to the group. After you’ve selected everyone you want to add, tap “Done.”
In your new chat, tap the Video Camera icon to start a video call with all the participants.
Want to set up a quick video call that anyone can join with a link? Try Skype’s Meet Now feature.