Skype (2011): Making Video Calls with Skype

Lesson 5: Making Video Calls with Skype


Before your first video call

This content refers to a previous version of Skype - go here for the current version.

Are you ready to talk face to face? On Skype, video calls are easy, whether you have a built-in webcam or one you've purchased separately.

To start, you need at least one contact. Go to our lesson on Adding Contacts if you need help finding or adding people you know. Next, you'll need to test your webcam to make sure the person on the other end will be able to see you. After that, you'll be ready to make video calls one on one or with an entire group. Before you begin, make sure:

  • You're connected to the Internet
  • Your volume is turned up
  • Your speakers and microphone are plugged in if they're not already built in to your computer
  • Your webcam is plugged in if it's not already built in and you've installed the software that came with it
  • You know your basic voice call settings are working; if you're not sure, you can always make a test call, which is covered in our lesson on Making Voice Calls with Skype

To test your webcam:

  1. Select Tools, then choose Options.
    Screenshot of SkypeOpening Skype options
  2. The Skype - Options window will appear. Under General, click Video Settings.

    Screenshot of SkypeOpening video settings
  3. The pane will show the outcome of the test. You'll know it's working if you see live video of yourself. In the pane pictured below, you can adjust your privacy and webcam settings and even take a photo snapshot using your webcam.
    Screenshot of Skype
  4. When you're done, close the window by clicking Cancel, or click Save if you've made any changes to your settings.

If Skype can't find your webcam, follow the links pictured below, or go to this troubleshooting page.

Screenshot of Skype

Making video calls

One-on-one and group video calls on Skype are free, which means you can chat using your webcam whenever you want.

To make a video call:

  1. Click the person you want to video call on the Contacts tab.
    Screenshot of SkypeSelecting a contact
  2. The contact's information will open in a pane on the right. Click the Video call button.
    Screenshot of SkypeCalling a contact
  3. The call window will open. The footage from your webcam will appear at the bottom, showing what the other person will see when that person answers. The call will keep ringing until someone picks up.
  4. The footage from that person's webcam will appear at the top. If the contact doesn't have a webcam—or chooses to answer without it—a profile picture will be there instead.
  5. Talk as long as you want. Click the End Call button when you're ready to hang up.
    Screenshot of SkypeVideo call in action

You can also turn your webcam on or off during a call—even a regular Skype-to-Skype voice call. Just click the Video button inside the call window.

Screenshot of SkypeTo turn your webcam on or off

Answering incoming video calls

So what do you see when someone calls you on Skype? A pop-up window that looks like this:

Screenshot of SkypeIncoming call pop-up window

To answer with your webcam, just click the Answer with video button or Decline if you're too busy to talk (or don't know the caller). You can also answer without video by clicking Answer so the caller can't see you on your webcam. You can always turn video on or off during the call if you change your mind. If you do nothing, the call will keep ringing until the other person hangs up.

Group video calling

Group video calling is an easy way to talk with several people at the same time. To learn more about making a group video call, check out this support page from Skype.

Screenshot of Skype