Making Calls with Skype
Now that you have Skype set up on your computer, it's time to make your first call. It's easier than you might think.
To start, you need at least one contact. Go back to our lesson on Adding Contacts if you need help finding or adding people you know. Next, you should make a test call to make sure the person on the other end will be able to hear you. After that, you'll be ready to take advantage of Skype's calling services, from the free to the paid.
There's an easy way to test your voice call settings and equipment before you call anyone on Skype. It's through a special contact—which is actually an automated service that mimics a phone call—named Skype Test Call or Echo/Sound Test Service. The contact is already on your contacts list. Before you begin, make sure:
If you can't connect to the test call, can't hear the operator, or can't record an audio sample, you may have a problem with your settings or equipment. To figure out what's wrong, double-check the items listed above step 1, then go to Skype's Sound Set-Up Guide.
Soon, you'll not only be making calls on Skype but receiving them as well. It's important to understand your online status, and how you—and your contacts—use it to tell when people are available on Skype.
To learn what the different status settings and their icons mean, visit Skype's What is a Status Setting. Your default status is set to online when you sign in to Skype. This tells your contacts you're available. To change your status, click the icon beside your name and choose from the drop-down menu. You can also use the Skype menu at the top of the screen.
As you know, calls to other people on Skype are free. The word for this type of call is Skype-to-Skype, meaning you and the other person are both using Skype—not any other kind of phone or mobile device—to call each other.
Saving a group
So what do you see when someone calls you on Skype? A pop-up window that looks like this:
To answer, click the Answer button or Decline if you're too busy to talk (or don't know the caller). You can also Answer with video, allowing the caller to see you on your webcam. You'll learn more about video calling in the next lesson, Making Video Calls with Skype. If you do nothing, the call will keep ringing until the other person hangs up.
To call other phones from Skype, you'll need to purchase some Skype credit or a subscription first. The word for this type of call is Skype-to-Phone. These features aren't free, but they're fairly inexpensive if you're interested in doing more with your Skype account.
Other paid services include your own Skype number that anyone can call to reach you on Skype and Skype to Go for low-cost international calls from your phone or mobile device. These must be purchased separately.
The best place to learn about paid services is your account at Skype.com (Skype sign in). There, you can review each service to figure out which one is right for you. You can also purchase what you need, whether you decide to pay as you go, get a subscription, or sign up for another paid service.
For help understanding your options, go back to review our Introduction to Skype.
When you subscribe to your own Skype number, Skype gives you a regular nine-digit phone number (for example, 321-555-1100) that anyone can call to reach you on Skype. The call will pop up on your computer, just like a regular incoming call.
What's the benefit of having a Skype number? People who aren't on Skype can use it to call you from their landline or mobile device. It also gives you your own voicemail. Many people like to use their Skype numbers in place of their ordinary phones, but remember: Skype can't replace your ordinary phone completely. For instance, it can't be used to make emergency calls.
Skype numbers aren't included in the normal subscription, but they can be purchased separately (similar to an upgrade) for a period of 3 months or 12 months. Learn more about it at Skype's What is a Skype Number, or go to your account page to purchase one.
Skype To Go lets you make low-cost international calls from your landline or mobile device. It's a convenient option if the person you want to call doesn't have Skype or if for some reason you can't be at your computer to make the call. The rates are affordable, and they may even be cheaper than your normal long-distance provider.
How does it work? All you have to do is give Skype the phone number of one of your international contacts. It'll convert the number to a local nine-digit number you can call from any phone to reach that contact.
Skype To Go numbers can be purchased with Skype credit from your account page. Learn more about it at Skype To Go.