With the holiday season coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to go over how to use Skype. More than likely, you won’t be able to see everyone you want to during the next few months. Expensive travel and busy schedules can make it difficult to get together with our loved ones, even for the holidays. Skype is a wonderful solution because not only can you talk to your friends and family, you can SEE them at the same time!
Here’s a link to an article on howstuffworks.com that explains the very basics of Skype. There’s also a helpful video for those of you who are visual learners. Once you have the program installed and can navigate the general settings, here are a few extra tips and tricks that will be helpful.
Take a minute and set up a profile picture for yourself. It’s so much nicer if you are not on a video call, to be able to see more than a question mark on your screen. It makes me happy when I’m doing The Digi Show and I can see pictures of who I’m talking to. Just go to the drop down menu in the top toolbar to access your profile settings.
If you are ever having audio trouble on Skype, go to Tools, Options, and then audio settings to be sure your mic and speaker settings are correct (The settings are different on a Mac). I always have to remind myself of this if I make a call without my headset and then later switch back to my headset.
Every once in awhile, it’s possible to just have a bad connection. It seems to help if you hang up and call again. If anyone is using a plug in microphone or headset, they might want to unplug it and then plug it back in again. We’ve learned these little tips after a lot of calls for The Digi Show.
There’s a lot you can do to make sure you have a great Skype experience. Use a plug-in microphone or headset for the best sound quality. On video calls, make sure you are looking into the camera when you speak instead of watching the screen. Try to avoid background noises so everyone can focus on who is actually involved in the call. Skype is wonderful for including several people at the same time, but it can be a bit overwhelming at first while everyone tries to figure out how to get their turn in (especially for little kids).
- Loved ones live far away or you are going to miss an event. Steph says she has her kids open their presents from their grandparents while they are all on Skype. That way the grandparents can see their kids reactions. Skype is wonderful for family interactions like this so consider giving a webcam as a gift to a family member who might not have one so they can join in the fun.
- Keep in touch with the family you live with. My daughter has been known to call me on Skype when I’m downstairs and she’s upstairs. We loved Skype this past summer when she went to stay with my parents in New Mexico for two weeks. It helped her not feel homesick.
- When you need to share screens with someone. Steph and I use Skype all the time when we are planning projects for this site or the podcast. It’s great that we can show each other exactly what we are thinking of by sharing screens.
- Steph and I have even had virtual shopping “dates” together over Skype. We can be talking to each other while browsing through online stores. We will share screens as we find something fun. We even compare totals at the end. It’s a great way to get together and do something fun, even though we live hundreds of miles away from each other!
- I’ve been working on helping my Mom learn to digi scrap through Skype calls. It’s so much easier to show her something than to try and explain how to do it. We live in different states so it isn’t really possible to have real-life scrapping time together.
- Even without sharing screens, you can talk to each other while your hands are free to type notes or do other tasks. Much easier than trying to hold a phone while typing!
Why we LOVE Skype
- Skype has a wonderful help and support system. Be sure to browse through their How-To Guides and FAQS.
- You can use Skype on your mobile devices and if those gadgets have frontward facing cameras, you can also make video calls without a webcam.
Oh, and did we mention Skype is free? What a total WIN! They do have some paid products, but for general person-to-person Skype calls, there is no charge. What a wonderful way to keep in touch with the people who are important in your life!
PS. Congratulations to this week’s readers who have won $10 to one of November’s featured designers: McAmy (Michelle Godin Designs), lizanne (Dawn by Design) and Leslie M (Mye De Leon). Thanks for commenting!