Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to your friends and family face-to-face, even when they’re on the other side of the world? Skype makes it possible to do just that. Better yet, it’s free.
A 2014 survey revealed 60 per cent of Skype users who were unable to visit their mothers in person on Mother’s Day were planning a ‘virtual visit’. Skype video calls made it possible.
One clever user sent a gift to his father to hide until the big day and arranged a Skype call for the morning. “My wife, daughter and myself were then able to see her face as she opened the gift,” he explained.
There’s nothing to stop anyone with access to the internet from using Skype except getting over the hurdle of making the first connection. Here’s how.
How to use Skype
You don’t need to be tech savvy to learn how to use Skype. It works on any device that connects to the internet and the basic service is free.
If you’re not sure how to download Skype, just visit the Skype website and click the ‘Download Skype’ button. You’ll be directed to a page that gives you the option to download the version you need for any internet-enabled device, including:
- Mobile phones;
- Personal computers (PCs);
- Tablets and laptops; and
- Internet-connected TVs.
Installing Skype on your computer or device is easy, you’ll just need to set up an account with a Skype password. Follow the directions offered by Skype, which will take you through each step of the process.
Related: How to make video calls on your iPad
Making the call
All you’ll need to make a Skype video call are a webcam, microphone and speakers. These are generally built in to most computers and devices, but can be purchased separately if needed (and can offer better sound quality than those on your computer).
Skype even offers a list of approved products that guarantee compatibility with the app.
To ensure your first Skype call goes off without a hitch, make sure you:
- Connect to Skype and make a test call to check the sound and video quality;
- Confirm the Skype username of the person you’re calling;
- Test your connection by sending a Skype message first; and
- Arrange a day and time for the call that suits both parties, taking into account any time differences.
Talk as long as you like. Skype-to-Skype video calls are free, though you may have to pay a packet data charge if you’re using a mobile device.
Later, you may want to purchase Skype credit so you can make direct calls to mobiles and land lines, but many Skype users are happy with the free service.
Making that first Skype call can be daunting but once you see your loved ones on the screen in front of you, you’ll wonder why you ever settled for anything less.
Related: Best apps for keeping in touch