How to Use Skype

Last updated: February 15, 2017 - 1:35pm EST

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 program on your device and quickly click it twice (or tap it) to open it.

    How to launch the Skype application

  2. When prompted to log in, click the box labeled "Skype Name, Email, or Mobile" and type in the Skype Name, email address, or phone number associated with your Skype account.  Then click Sign In.

    Entering your Skype log-in ID

  3. On the next screen, click in the box labeled "Password" and type in the password that you picked for your Skype account.  Then, click Sign In once more.

    Entering your Skype account password

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.  (Our tutorial on Skype settings will show you how).

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.

Profile, status, and other miscellaneous Skype functions

The top-left portion of the screen 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 on Skype tries to contact you.  If you choose Offline, nobody can use Skype can contact you, and vice-versa.

If you click in the box labelled "Search" and type in a person's name, Skype name, or email address, Skype will look to see if they exist in your list of contacts, or in Skype's main directory.  (See our lesson on Skype contacts for more detailed instructions).

The icons below the search box do various things.  If you click the house icon, you will return to your main screen on Skype from almost anywhere else on Skype.  If you click the dial pad icon, a screen with a dial pad will appear that allows you to call people's landline and mobile phones from Skype.  Note, however, 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 tutorials on the cost of Skype, how to call someone on Skype, or Skype Premium for more information.

If you click the "+" icon, you can start a new conversation that any of your contacts can join.  You can also invite people who aren't using Skype to join the conversation by sharing the hyperlink to the conversation.  See our lesson on using Skype messenger for some basic instructions on how to set a conversation up.

Finally, if you click the robot icon, you can add "bots" to your Skype contacts list. "Bots" are specialized automated programs that are designed to respond to your actions in various ways, such as giving advice, playing a game, or doing other fun or useful stuff.  Simply click on a bot and then click Add to Contacts.

Your Skype contacts menu

The middle of the left side of Skype's main screen shows your list of Skype contacts, along with each of their online statuses.  You can 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).  Click on a contact to select them, which will let you choose how to communicate with them.

Mood messages on Skype

The majority of the right side of Skype's main screen is dominated by the "mood message" interface, which lets Skype users broadcast what's going on in their lives at the moment to all of their contacts at once.  Click in the box labelled "Tell Your Friends What You're Up To" and type in something about what you're doing or how you're feeling, and then click the checkmark that appears to confirm your mood message.

Your mood 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.  If you want to change your mood message, simply repeat the process described in the paragraph above (you can also change it by editing your profile).

Below the box for entering your own mood message, you will see mood messages that you or your contacts have posted on Skype (and how long ago those messages were posted).  You can click the camcorder icon beside a mood message to call, video chat with, or send a text to the person who posted it (see our tutorials on using Skype messenger, making phone calls with Skype, and using Skype video chat for complete instructions on how to use these features).  You can also click the "X" that appears in the top-left corner of a mood message when you move your mouse cursor over it to hide it, or to hide all mood messages from that person.

There are two other buttons here that are of note, below the box for inputting mood messages but above the mood messages themselves.  You can click the refresh button (the looping arrow) on the left to see if any of your contacts have posted new mood messages lately.  Clicking the gear icon on the right, meanwhile, allows you to access additional settings, such as managing what conversations are visible or hidden.

The Skype messenger screen

When you select a contact in Skype, you will usually see a screen like the one below:

The Skype text messaging interface

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 of the screenshot allow you to start a video chat or phone call, respectively, with the person (or people) in the conversation.

See our tutorial for using Skype messenger 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 a screen like this one:

The Skype voice and video call interface

In addition to talking with the person using this screen, you can do things like:

  • share your screen (so the other person sees what you see on your device's 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

  • add another person to the conversation

To learn how to do these things and more, see our tutorials on how to make Skype calls and how to use Skype video chat.

 

That's a quick tour of what you'll see and do on Skype!  Next, we'll cover one of the first things that you should do on Skype before using any of its other features: getting your Skype contacts in order!

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More Skype Tutorials

See all 19 Skype tutorials
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