Friday, September 26, 2008

An Introduction to Skype

What is Skype?

Skype is a form of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) which allows you to speak to other people over the Internet from your computer. The most popular version of VOIP is Vonage which utilizes a telephone handset. Please see the links above for more basic information about Skype.

Skype is free in its basic form which suffices for most users. This means you can only connect with other Skype users. There are other premium plans which include the ability to call from Skype to landlines across the U.S., Canada and the world as well as the ability to own a Skype dial-in number so that landline callers can reach you on your computer.

Skype is an easy way to become comfortable with some of the cutting-edge technology involved with VOIP and the program is easy to install and use.

Technical Requirements

Skype is not for every computer setup. At a minimum you should have these features and/or items already available:

- DSL or Broadband connection; Skype cannot be used with dial-up internet connections

- a stationary microphone or headset; a headset is recommended since it will be easier to hear the other person speaking and the microphone will not pick up ambient noise the way a stationary microphone will

Download Skype

1. Go to and click the Download link.

2. As always, whenever installing any application, you should exit from all other programs including e-mail.

3. Once the download is complete, follow the prompts to install Skype.

4. Once Skype is installed, you should see a console similar to this:

Skype Settings

1.  Once the Skype console appears, on the Tools menu, select Options.  The Skype Options dialog appears.

2.  Select the options you would like to change.  Click Save when finished.

Add A New Contact

1.  Select the Contacts tab.  Click Add.  

2.  The Add a Contact dialog appears. 

3.  Enter the e-mail address of a fellow Skype user and click Find.  You can use my email address

Make a Voice Call

1.  After you have added me or another Skype user as a Contact you are ready to make your first call!

2.  Locate the contact and then click the green "phone receiver" icon and wait for the call to connect.

Don't be intimidated by Skype.  At first I was but now I use it as my main means of telephony - I call everyone with it.  I have also bought a plan that allows me unlimited calling to any phone in the US and Canada which is about $30 for 6 months.  In addition, I have set up a call in number that lets my family call from any type of phone into my Skype phone.

For more information, please visit the Research Toolkit: Skype posting and related postings over at Denise Olson's site Moultrie Creek.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Well, apparently I cannot get my mic to work. I went and bought a new one (headset/mic) that stated it was compatible with XP and Skype. Still can't get any response to my mic, either in Skype or Sound Recorder when trying record in that. I have no idea what happened, as it all worked fine last time I needed a mic, which was a long time ago. I suspect it has something to do with whatever the tech support people did to my computer when they unsuccessfully tried to correct the file problem I was having. They did replace my CD burner and I suspect they did something else that disabled the mic function.