Skype is free and a great way to keep in touch with friends and family especially if they live a distance from you. Once it’s set up and ready to use it’s relatively easy but it can be unsettling at first, especially if you’re not used to social media and all the current online chat applications.
What you’ll need
If you have a desktop computer you will need a webcam, a microphone and some speakers. If you prefer not to use a webcam that’s fine, it just means the people you contact won’t be able to see you, but speakers and a microphone are needed of course so that you can chat and hear your friends and family talk back to you.
There’s a wide selection of webcams available from stores such as Argos and sometimes supermarkets sell them too and they usually have a microphone built in – alternatively you can buy a microphone separately. (There is a shortage of webcams at the moment due to current demand. Ed. April 2020).
Many earphones have microphones too, even the small earbuds that are supplied with smartphones and tablets, so check to see if you have some tucked away in the back of a drawer with all your other unused cables!
Most people have speakers, they can also be built into monitors, but if you don’t have any they’re easy to buy from most major stores.
If you have a laptop, tablet or smartphone the camera, microphone and speakers are all built-in.
Skype initial set up and Windows 10.
As I mentioned above, Skype is relatively easy to use, but the initial set up can be confusing, especially if you have Windows 10 (or Windows 8.1). I need to mention this now because whether or not you have a newer pc and a linked Microsoft account will effect the way you start off – let me explain.
With the launch of Windows 8 and particularly 10, Microsoft were keen to encourage all users to create a Microsoft account, thus introducing their range of linked applications such as Skype, One-Drive, and Office 365 in the hope that the more advanced features would be purchased further down the line.
This means that when you purchase a Windows 10 pc these days you are urged to create a Microsoft account during the set up. (There is the option to change this for an unlinked local account later on).
Therefore if you have a new pc and have already created a Microsoft account you are ready to start using Skype and just need to find the App in your Start Menu.
(You may need to enter your Microsoft Account and password the first time you use it).
If you’re still using an older version of Windows, you will need to download and install the desktop version of Skype from www.skype.com – however I would strongly recommend upgrading if you have 7, as your machine will become more and more vulnerable and prone to glitches as time goes on.