You may already have everything you need to use Skype on your computer. Having a few extra items, like a comfortable headset, can make things easier. Before you download Skype, it's a good idea to learn about the different equipment options and ensure your computer is set up correctly.
Review the checklist to make sure you have everything you need to use Skype. You'll need:
There are other accessories you may want to consider, like an actual phone you can plug into your computer—or use wirelessly—to talk to people on Skype. These accessories can be expensive, but they are a good investment for some, especially if you plan to get your own Skype number and use it frequently in place of your ordinary phone. Learn more about it on Skype's Accessories page.
There are two different versions of Skype, depending on the type of computer you have: Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac.
We'll focus on Skype for Windows in this tutorial—but if you have a Mac, don't worry. The features in each version are mostly the same. Once you get to know the Mac interface, you'll still be able to follow along and participate in all of the things we talk about in this tutorial.
It only takes a few minutes to set up Skype for the first time. You'll start by creating an account on the website. Then you'll download and install the software you need to run Skype on your computer.
If you have an @hotmail.com or @outlook.com email address—or an account that lets you use Microsoft services like OneDrive or XBox Live—you already have a Skype account. Just select Microsoft Account and sign in with your existing information.
If you don't download Skype after creating an account, you can also download it here.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn how to navigate the Skype window.
The Call menu gathers all of your calling actions in one place. If you're not sure how to do something on a call, just come here to gain access to things like mute, transfer, and ignore with a single click.
Click here for shortcuts on everything related to Conversation on Skype—in other words, instant messaging. Options range from viewing old messages to setting up special notifications based on the contents of the message.
The Contacts menu includes shortcuts for managing your contacts. Some common tasks include importing contacts and changing how your contacts are sorted in the Skype window.
The Skype menu bar lets you change things related to you and your account—even your online status so people can tell when you're available. This is also where you can sign out of Skype.
The Skype Home tab is your general Skype homepage. It's the first thing you see when you log in, and it's the screen pictured in this interactive. Here, you can easily update your status update, view news and alerts, and easily interact with your top contacts.
The Contacts tab contains your Skype contact list. Here, you can click a contact's name to open a pane where you can call him or her, view his or her profile, and see his or her message history. You can also right-click a contact's name to quickly access more options.
This blue bar serves two purposes. Click the small status icon to quickly change your online status; or click anywhere else on the bar to view your Profile page.
The Profile page is where you go to edit your profile, and control whether certain things are public, or visible to your contacts only (for example, your profile picture).
Go to the Help menu whenever you have a technical question about Skype. Heartbeat (Skype Status) can even tell you if Skype is experiencing technical issues.
Open the Tools menu to access online games and settings for your Skype account. You'll probably use Options the most for configuring things like your audio settings, privacy, and general settings.
Use the View menu to quickly navigate to anything you're not currently viewing, such as your profile, voicemail messages, and files you've sent or received.
The Recent tab contains a list of your most recent calls. You can right-click a contact's or group's name to quickly access additional options.
Now that you have Skype installed on your computer, take a minute to make sure your account is set up the way you want it—first by adjusting your privacy settings and notifications, then by editing your profile.
Skype is a social network. This means you can theoretically receive calls, video, and messaging from people you don't know unless you adjust your privacy settings. Luckily, Skype makes it easy to keep your information safe and protect yourself from unwanted callers.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn about the different privacy settings.
These settings allow you to manage your Internet safety on Skype. The only box that has to stay checked is Accept Skype browser cookies; otherwise, some features may not work for you.
You can uncheck the other boxes to keep from (1) showing your online status at Skype.com and (2) sharing your demographic information with third-party advertisers.
Here, you can control if—and how long—Skype should keep a history of your IM conversations.
This controls who's allowed to chat with you on Skype using instant message (IM). To stop unwanted IMs from people you don't know, choose people in my Contact list only.
This controls who's allowed to send you video and screen sharing on Skype. If you don't want to receive webcam footage from people you don't know, choose people in my Contact list only.
This controls who's allowed to see that you have a webcam. If you want only your contacts to know you have video, choose people in my Contact list only.
This controls who's allowed to call you on Skype. If you don't want to receive calls from people you don't know, choose people in my Contact list only.
Notifications are the items and actions Skype alerts you to, like when specific users are online or want to add you to their contacts. Most notifications are displayed at the bottom of your screen so you can always tell what's happening on Skype, even when you don't have the window open.
Some notifications play a sound when they alert you. To change or disable these sounds, click Sounds in the same window.
Filling out your profile is optional, but it's a great way to share something about yourself with other people on Skype. Just be careful about the information you choose to share. You can always fill out some items but leave other items blank or unspecified. You can also control whether certain items on your profile are public, private, or visible to contacts only.
To learn more about who can see your profile information, visit Skype's Account and profile settings.