Monday, November 21, 2011

Setting Up Skype

Skype is a great tool that allows you to video chat or talk to others anywhere in the world ... and it's FREE!  Skype has been around for years, but more and more people are catching on to it now that they have web cams built into their laptops.

Although you don't need to have a web cam to use Skype, it is recommended.  Without the web cam, all you can do is chat over the internet as if you were talking on a telephone.  So at very least you will need a microphone connected to your computer to chat.  And if you prefer, you can purchase a special headset/microphone combo specifically designed to work with Skype.

Webcams aren't that expensive these days and having one allows you to actually see the person (or persons) you're chatting with real-time (and vice versa).  The cool thing about this is that it's almost like being there in person!  Many of my clients feel as though they get to watch their distant grandchildren grow because of Skype.

If you have a lot of relatives and friends that live in other states or counties, you'll really enjoy Skype.  And it's easy to install and set up. 

Here's what you need for Skype:
  1. A computer (obviously) with a good high-speed internet connection (note some folks on DSL have trouble)
  2. A microphone and speakers (or headset) ... or a web cam (which typically has the microphone built in)

Installing Skype:

Installing Skype is pretty easy.  You'll have to set up a free account first, then download the software and install it.  I recommend keeping notes of the username and password you setup for future reference.  In addition to the free account, Skype also offers a premium account for a small fee.  You can read about the differences in accounts on the Skype website.

If you previously had Skype installed and can't get the program to work anymore, you might want to uninstall Skype and then reinstall the latest version. 

To download Skype, click here.

Once the file is downloaded, double-click the icon to start the install process.  Follow the prompts to complete the installation. 

Getting Started with Skype:

Once the program is installed and you open it, you'll be asked to check the sound and video settings. Once that's done, you'll need to add others with Skype to your address book.  You can search for them using the built in search tool or just ask your friends and relatives for their skype names and add them.  If they're a little more tech savvy, you can also give them your skype name and ask them to add you.

When you add somebody to your Skype contact list, a message is sent to the other person asking for you to confirm it's okay.  This way you're only adding people to your contact list you want. 

Once you have a contact or two, you need to make sure that person is online so you can contact them.  Skype will tell if the other person is online.  If you like, you can also schedule a call with somebody in advance to make sure you're both online at the same time.

For more help with Skype, click here.