Making free phone calls with Skype is great and all, but wouldn’t you love to see the smiling faces of your friends and loved ones when you talk to them, rather than just hear their voices? Skype can do that, too, thanks to its “Video Chat” feature! And the great thing about it is that it isn’t that much different from making a regular phone call.
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In order to have a video chat, both you and the person you’re going to chat with have to have a miniature camera/recorder called a “webcam”. Most modern computer monitors have one built in, but you can purchase external ones at your local computer and electronics store.
To video chat on Skype
Open your Skype desktop program and log in.
Click on a person in your contacts list to select them, and then click the video chat button () in the top-right corner. (As a shortcut, you can also hold down the “Shift” and “Ctrl” keys and press “R” after selecting the contact whom you wish to call.)
- The video chat interface is relatively similar to the call interface on Skype. The red numbers indicate important functions; their corresponding captions below the screenshot will tell you what they do.
1. Full Screen – Click here to hide all other windows in Skype and make the call window take up your entire screen.
2. Show/Hide Contacts – Click here to show or hide your contacts list on the left-hand side.
3. Turn Camera On/Off – You can click here to turn your webcam off, so that the other person can’t see you. Note that this won’t turn their webcam off, though, so you can still see them unless they choose to turn their webcam off, too. Then you’re just having a plain old phone call.
4. Mute/Unmute Microphone – Click here to turn your microphone on or off. This might be useful if you’re trying to listen to the other person, and noise in the background at your location is being picked up by the microphone and making the other person difficult to hear.
5. Advanced Functions – This button brings up a menu that lets you do some advanced things, such as:
- Take a person’s picture using their webcam, and save it to your computer
- Send a computer file to the person you’re calling
- Send a person’s contact information on Skype to the person you’re calling
- Share your screen with the person you’re calling (so that they see what you see)
- Add other contacts to the current call
6. End Call – When you’re done talking to this person, click here to hang up.
7. Call Quality Options – If you’re having trouble hearing the other person, or the other way around, click here for some options that can help fix that, such as adjusting the volume on your microphone or speakers.
8. Show/Hide Messenger – Click here to show or hide the “Messenger” window on the right-hand side. You may want to keep it open in case the call stops working, or one of you wants to share something like an Internet link with the other.
How to start a group video chat on Skype
Group video chat is a feature on Skype where you can have a live video chat between multiple people; they’ll all show up on each other’s screens. This is useful if, for example, you have children or grandchildren off at different colleges or universities, or family members in different parts of the country. Just put them in all in a group on Skype and click the call button, and you’ll have yourself a big old family reunion that’s the next best thing to being face-to-face in the same room!
You used to need an upgraded form of Skype — called Skype Premium — to start group video chats, but now the service is free for everyone to use!
As mentioned, to make a group call on Skype, you must first create a group, and then place contacts in that group whom you wish to call, and then make the call.
Start by clicking on the Contacts menu at the top of the screen, and then clicking Create New Group.
Next, click the add people button () in the top-right corner to make a menu appear. Click the check boxes beside the names of the contacts whom you want to add to the group, and then click Add to Group.
Now that you have a group with some of your contacts in it, click the video call button ( ) to have a video chat with all of them at once.
(NOTE: You can only have up to 10 people on one call at a time. (However, we’re guessing that won’t be a problem, unless you’re having a REALLY big family reunion.)
The interface for making a group video chat is pretty much the same as it is for chatting with one person.
Well, now you know how to have a video chat or group video chat on Skype!