Skype at home

It’s free and it’s fun and it helps you keep in touch with friends and family.  Here's some things you might like to know if you're thinking of getting Skype in your home.

What is Skype?

Skype is video calling that uses the internet instead of a phone line. It’s a computer programme that you can use to call people who are also using Skype. Skype uses your computer’s microphone and camera to make a video phone call over the internet.

How much does Skype cost?

Skype calling is free when you’re calling another Skype user. That’s because Skype makes money with its premium and paid services (like using Skype to call landlines). Making Skype free makes Skype attractive to millions of people, who then become potential customers for Skype’s paid features.

How do I use Skype to call someone?

Install Skype

First, you’ll need to download and install Skype on your computer. If you’re nervous about doing that, ask a friend or family member to help.

Or you’ll find lots of helpful information about how to get started on Skype’s website.

Sign up

Once you’ve installed Skype, you’ll need to sign up with a username (often referred to as your Skype name) and password. It’s easiest to choose a name that’s similar to your real name, so that your friends and family can find and connect to you. It’s a good idea to make a note of your Skype name and password, too.

Test Skype

Great job! You’ve successfully installed Skype. You can test it out before you call anyone, by doing a Skype test call. This is how Skype checks to see if your microphone, webcam (that’s your computer’s built-in camera) and are set up, and that your internet connection is strong enough.

What can I do if Skype’s not working?

A good yell at it is often very satisfying.

But the best thing to do when you’re struggling with technology is to ask someone for help. A family member, a neighbour, or another friend, might be more than happy to help.

If you’re confident that you can figure it out yourself with a little guidance, you can read Skype’s help pages.

I have an iPad/tablet. Can I use Skype?

Yes. You will need to download the “app” (which is just another word for computer programme) from the App Store or iTunes.

What else can I do with Skype?

Luckily, there’s more to Skype than watching little kids make silly faces (they get distracted by their own image on the screen...a lot). Here are a few other things we find Skype useful for:

  • sending files or photos
  • call landlines or mobiles (you’ll need to use a credit card to buy “Skype credit”)
  • screen sharing (this means the person you’re Skyping with can see your computer screen)
  • video messages (like the message you leave on an answerphone, but with video)
  • and group videos (several people can join the Skype call).

You might find Skype useful to gather a few friends from around the country to meet for a Friday night catch-up or book club. This can be especially helpful if you or one of your friends finds it difficult to leave the house due to illness or mobility issues

What do I need to watch out for when I’m using Skype?

Data usage

Skype uses a lot of data. To make sure you don’t too much, keep an eye on your data by checking your online usage.

Fraud

There are more than 49 million users on Skype every day, and some of those users are fake accounts set up to scam people. If you get a contact request or instant message from someone whose name you don’t recognise, your safest bet is to ignore it. Skype will never ask for your password or account/billing information, so ignore those requests too.