Skype is one of the oldest applications to hit the market, way before the advent of Facebook and WhatsApp, Skype was already empowering its users to stay in touch with friends and family, through video calls and chats. This software breached the void of instant communications and revolutionized the way information was exchanged.
Since entering the market, Skype has evolved and upgraded to fit different eras and user needs. It has gone from just an ordinary tool for video calling one person to the ability to make conference video calls, record video calls in the absence of the receiver, and a thousand and one cool features we will be reviewing in this article.
The user interface of Skype has not changed so drastically to confuse beginner users. It still has all the necessary functionalities as well as additional advanced ones. After signing up to a Skype account, you are at liberty to customize your profile image, as well as limiting the number of private information accessible to others. You can control who sees your age, email, location, birthday, and others. To protect yourself, Skype allows you to choose any location to display on your bio without asking to verify if you are indeed in that location. This is especially good if you are trying to conceal your current location from others. Another thing you can do is to prevent certain people in your contact list from accessing some information on you.
If you are new to using Skype, then you will notice that on the top left corner of your screen, you can configure several options to further smooth-out the way you interact with this software as well as other users. By clicking on your avatar, you can select the mode you wish displayed to other users - for instance; you have options to either be seen as Active, Away, Do Not Disturb or Invisible. Each status mode comes with a distinct color to quickly understand when a user is not online and when they are busy.
Next, you can tell your contacts or Skype users what you are up to. You can either customize the display message or choose to use the preset sentences, like Be Right Back, Out For Lunch, At Meetings, At School, and lots of others. You can even use the only emojis to represent what you are doing or combine animated emojis and texts.
Furthermore, you can manage your Skype Profile, method of making calls and tweak the settings to suit your needs. Most of the features on Skype are free of charge; however, some functions, like Skype to Phone, which allows you to use your Skype account to call cellular phones require that you purchase some Skype credit. Skype credits work just like your local service charges and enable you to call people or send messages to them without the need for them to have Skype accounts. Another thing you can do with Skype is that you can decide to have a second phone number of any country of your choice, which means that you can live in Barbados and have a second phone number of the United Kingdom. With these Skype numbers, you can pay a flat fee for unlimited local calls, have access to about 26 countries in the world, and you can receive calls on this number across all devices(computers and mobile devices).
If you wish to personalize your experience on Skype, merely click on Settings and you will have options to tweak and customize any settings. You can change the language of administration, select if you want the application to keep running upon closing it or not. You can also opt to share your location with Bing.
To further customize Skype, you can change the overall appearance of your user interface by navigating to Settings and then to Appearance. Where you can play around with the chat color, preview all your changes and revert them in case, you do not fancy them. You can alternate between the Light and Dark mode, or Use your system’s default mode settings. You even can choose between Accessible Modes by selecting either High Contrast Light mode or High Contrast Dark mode. All these changes can be previewed and automatically applied in real-time. Skype allows you to adjust the sidebar as well. You can set the Compact List mode which shows more contacts on the sidebar than the few recent ones, and you can show user and conversation icons too. Again, whatever changes you make on the Appearance feature, is automatically applied in real-time for you to see.
Moving on, with Skype, you can adjust your audio and video settings to fit your needs. The microphone settings have three modes - Built-in Microphone, Skype Interview, and Default Device. If you are not entirely savvy on what microphone mode to use, you have the option of enabling the ‘Automatically Adjust Microphone Settings.’ Apart from the microphone option, Skype offers Speakers settings as well, and you can choose one of the three speakers modes - Built-in Output, Multi-Output Device, and Default Settings. After adjusting all these settings, you can Test your audio sound to ensure that it will work properly. You can mute or unmute sound for incoming calls and allow additional rings on other devices. Finally, you can make a free test call to verify you approve these settings.
As for the video settings, the quality of your video will largely depend on the quality of your device’s webcam. If your web camera is of low-quality, or your device does not have a built-in webcam, you can utilize an external web camera to make and receive video calls.
If you wish to enable or disable your Caller ID, navigate to the settings, and under Calling, you can perform this function. You can even activate call forwarding to another local number, skype account, or voicemail. Note that these will only work when using Skype Credit to call mobile phones or landlines; otherwise, the setup is unnecessary. You can enable window when Skype is in the background, or only allow Skype calls from contacts to ring on specific devices.
Another cool thing about Skype is that you can enable subtitles for Calls. You have the option to have your calls transcribed for the other party and yourself. You can select from the list of over nine languages to be your default spoken language as well as the translated language. This is an excellent option as you can communicate effectively with people of various cultures without fear of a language barrier.
When it comes to messaging and chats, you have several options to make your experience fun and less tedious. You can enable Read receipts in conversations with fewer than 20 participants. Enable Large emoticons(this only works for single emoticons as multiple emoticons sent at once will remain the usual size), preview web links, adjust text size, send messages with Enter key, automatically download photos, automatically download files, select a designated storage for all the data you receive, as well as the ability to export your chat history. You can edit an already sent message, or reply to any message by quoting the message directly.
You can tweak the notification settings to make your life easier. Just go to the settings, find Notifications and begin to enable or disable all the options to have a smooth Skype experience. Note that you can create chat groups and add as many people as you want to the group. You can equally make conference audio or video calls within the group. As long as you have a great internet connection, you can hear clearly and vice versa. In case there were disruptions during your Skype call, you can send automatic feedback to the developers, and they will try to fix the issue. Skype allows you to block contacts, synchronize your local contact as well as Facebook friends. You can choose to be seen during general username searches or not. Skype encourages privacy of information and has all the tools you need to protect your privacy even without any technical skills.
It’s compatible with Windows operating systems, including Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, XP 64-bit, Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8, Windows 8 64-bit, Windows 10, and Windows 10 64-bit.
Overall, this tool is feature-rich and easy-to-use. You can perform several functions that you wouldn’t dream of using other similar applications. It helps that Skype has quite a strong reputation for supporting it and highly reputable among users. Most of the functions are free to use; however, some luxury items can only be accessed with a small fee. If you have not used Skype yet, check it out and see what the hype is about. It’s easy to set up and manipulate. Skype supports several languages and compatible with multiple devices.