How to Use Skype

Last updated: April 29, 2016 - 7:03pm EDT

The great thing about Skype is that there are many different ways to use it.  You can use it like an instant messaging program, make phone calls with it, or even talk with someone face-to-face by using video chat!  While we'll be going over these features in more detail in later tutorials, for now we'll give you a quick tour of how to use the main interface of Skype, and show you a few other screens that you'll commonly see.

How to log into Skype

  1. Find your Skype desktop program and open it.

  2. When prompted to log in, click Skype Name as the method you want to use.

  3. Click in the box labelled "Skype Name" and type in the user name that you picked for yourself when you created your account; you can also click the arrow button () at the edge of this box and select your Skype Name from a list.  Then click the box labelled "Password" and type in the password that you picked for your account.  Finally, click Sign In.

When you log into Skype for the first time, it may ask you to adjust your audio and video settings.  Don't worry about these too much; you can always adjust them later.  (See our Skype Settings tutorial for more information.)

Skype's Main Screen

When you log into Skype with a new account, there won't really be much to see at first.  Therefore, we've logged into Skype with a pre-existing account to show you some additional things that you'll see after you've been using Skype for a while.  Click the yellow buttons () in the screenshot below for more information about each item.

How to use Skype main screenshot

Profile and Online Status

Shows your name as it appears on Skype, your profile picture, and your current status.  Click your name or picture to bring up a screen where you can see and edit your profile.

You can also click the small icon beside your picture to change your online status on Skype to Online, Away, Do Not Disturb, Invisible, or Offline.  Your online status shows other people if you are (or aren't) available to contact on Skype.  If you choose Do Not Disturb, you will not be notified when someone else tries to contact you.  If you choose Offline, nobody on Skype can contact you, and vice-versa.


Change Mood Message

Click in this box and type in what you are doing or how you are feeling at the moment, and then click the confirm button ().  This message will appear on the main screens of your contacts on Skype, and it will also replace the generic online status indicator underneath your profile name.  You can change this by going to your profile and editing your "Mood Message".


Extra Settings

Click the gear icon () here to see additional settings, like for connecting to Facebook or showing mood messages that you've previously hidden.



Click here and type in a person's name or Skype Name to search for them in your list of contacts, or in Skype's main directory. 

See our Skype Contacts tutorial for more information.



Click here to get back to Skype's main screen from pretty much anywhere on Skype.


Call Phones

Click here to go to a screen with a dial pad that allows you to call people's home and mobile phones from Skype.  Note that this is one of the few features of Skype that isn't free, and requires a calling subscription or "Skype Credit" to use.

See our Skype Calls and Skype Premium tutorials for more information.



Shows you a list of the people whom you've connected with on Skype.  Click Contacts to see a list of all of your contacts, or click Recent to see a list of your contacts that have called you or sent you messages recently (or whom you have called or sent messages to).


Mood Message History

Shows mood messages that you or your contacts have posted on Skype, and how long ago those messages were posted.  You can click the camera button () beside a status update to call, video chat with, or send an instant message to the person who posted the update.  (See our Using Skype Messenger, Skype Calls, and Skype Video Chat tutorials for more information.)

You can also click the "X" that appears in the top-left corner of a status update when you move your mouse cursor over it to hide it, or to hide all status updates from that person.

The Skype Messenger Screen

When you select a contact in Skype, this is usually the screen that will appear.  From this screen, you can:

  • send quick text messages to a person

  • share a photo with a person

  • send a computer file to a person

  • send information about your Skype contacts a person

  • add another person to the conversation

Also, the buttons highlighted in the top-right corner allow you to start a phone call or a video chat with that person.

See our Using Skype Messenger tutorial for further instructions on how to use this screen.

The Skype Call / Video Chat Screen

When you start a phone call or video chat with someone on Skype, you'll see this screen.  In addition to talking with the person using this screen, you can do things like:

  • share your computer screen (so the other person sees what you see on your screen)

  • take a picture of the other person (if they're using video chat)

  • switch between a call and video chat by enabling or disabling your webcam

  • make the conversation take up your whole computer screen

To learn how to do these things and more, see our Skype Calls and Skype Video Chat tutorials.


And that's a quick tour of what you'll see and do on Skype!  Check out or other tutorials to learn how to use the program in more in-depth ways!


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