How to Make HD Skype Calls

Get the Best Skype Video Quality

Screenshot of three people having an HD video call in Skype
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Skype is fully capable of making HD video calls. What this means is that the video quality is clear, audio is in sync, and the whole experience makes it out as if you're sitting right in front of the other person.

Unfortunately, very specific conditions must be met in order to actually achieve full HD Skype calls. Not only does your phone or computer need to be running at tip-top speed, but the camera needs to be a high-definition camera, and the network you're on should have enough speed available for Skype to use a good chunk of it for HD calling.

What's more is that the other Skype caller can't take advantage of your HD call even if you've met all those conditions, unless they, too, have a high-speed network connection, high-def camera, etc.

How to Make a Video Call on Skype

Before we look at all the necessary components that let you make the best quality video calls in Skype, let's see how you actually use Skype to call someone:

Skype on a Computer

  1. Open the call button at the top left-hand side of Skype.
  2. From the list of contacts, locate the one you want to have a call with.
  3. Select the video button to the right of that contact to instantly start the video call.

Skype on the Web

  1. Open an existing text conversation or choose a contact.
  2. Click or tap the video call button from the top right of the screen.

Skype on a Phone or Tablet

  1. Open the Calls menu from the bottom of the Skype app.
  2. Find the contact you want to start a video call with.
  3. Tap the camera icon to the right of the user to immediately start calling them.

    Another way to call someone over Skype from your computer or phone is much like you can from the web version, which is to open a text chat with them and then select the video calling button at the upper right-hand side of that screen.

    If the Skype call isn't HD, consider all the points below to learn more about what could be causing poor Skype calls and what you can do to make better quality calls in Skype.

    Tip: If you can't get Skype to work properly, see this general troubleshooting guide on fixing common Skype issues.

    Install the Latest Version of Skype

    On top of all the other requirements you must meet to make HD calls in Skype, make sure you're using the latest version of the software. If you're using an extremely outdated edition, there's a chance that there are bugs or other problems that will affect the video quality even if you do have an HD camera.

    Skype has been refined over the years to better support calling and video chatting, so having the current version is necessary to ensure that you have the best of the best.

    You can get Skype here. This includes the most up-to-date mobile app if you're using Skype on your phone or tablet, and the latest computer version if Skype is running on your laptop or desktop.

    Have Enough Network Bandwidth

    A great internet connection is arguably the most important requirement for making HD Skype calls. You could have the best high-end camera and the fastest computer or phone in the world, but an internet connection that doesn't provide enough bandwidth for the call will be painfully obvious.

    A slow internet connection will force the Skype call into a low-quality mode so that it will still try to work even when it can't use much bandwidth.

    This makes the Skype call very poor and choppy, causing the video to skip around, the audio to lose sync with the video, and probably "poor network connection" messages... clearly, the opposite of the HD call you're after.

    There are a couple things you can do to make sure the bandwidth is available for the Skype call, some easy and some hard depending on the situation you're in. For example, if you're at home trying to call someone over Skype, and find that the connection is sluggish, close down anything else on your network that is using the internet.

    If YouTube is playing on your computer, shut it down.

    If you have a Chromecast or video game console streaming video, pause it or shut it off during the Skype call. Video streaming services like Netflix and the like, use up lots of bandwidth, and you can open up that bandwidth for your Skype call by just shutting them down.

    However, this type of network manipulation is not something you can do if you're using a public network like one at a school, business, restaurant, hotel, etc. If you're in those kinds of places and your Skype call is not at the HD quality you want it to be at, consider that there isn't much you can do since you don't control what all the other users are doing on their own devices.

    After that, there isn't much more you can do to increase your internet speed except to actually pay for a faster connection, something you can do by calling up your ISP.

    Get an HD Camera

    This should be obvious: you cannot make HD calls without a device that can make HD calls! An HD camera is required to make your Skype calls smooth and clear, and it's one of the more important components that will get you the closest to HD calls even if you don't manage to fulfill the other requirements.

    If you're using a modern smartphone, there's a good chance that you already have an integrated HD camera. There isn't much upgrading you can do to that camera, so if it's not as good as you want it to be, try turning the phone or tablet around so that you're using the back-facing camera (this one sometimes uses higher quality hardware than the front-facing one).

    Upgrading a computer webcam is much easier and cost-effective, and there are lots of HD webcams you can pick from to improve the quality of your Skype calls. To make the highest quality video calls on Skype, consider purchasing an HD webcam.

    Note: Webcams used on a desktop or laptop computer require additional software called device drivers. The wrong driver, and especially a missing one, will affect how well the camera works, so make sure you update the drivers after you plug the camera in, just to be sure that you're maximizing its HD capabilities.

    Be Mindful of the Environment

    It might sound like an outsider here, but light plays a capital role in image quality, both for picture and video. You may have a great internet connection and superb hardware, but a dim environment can ruin your images and, ultimately, the entire call.

    The idea here is to be showered by light. The brighter your environment, the clearer your video will be.

    Ducking out in the corner of the room at night will do very little to maximize all the bandwidth and HD awesomeness you have running through your camera.

    Talk to HD-Ready Correspondents

    Even if you follow all the above with utmost precision, your Skype buddy needs to as well or the whole experience might seem pointless.

    Consider this: your friend has an ultra fast network connection, a high-end phone with a great camera, and is calling you from her backyard with more than enough natural light. You, on the other hand, can't even see her amazing video because you're using Wi-Fi at a hotel during a big conference (when everyone is using the Wi-Fi).

    In this situation, she will not see or hear your call clearly because an HD call demands more bandwidth than you have available. For the same reason, you will not see her crystal clear video until you have more bandwidth available.

    As you can see, getting better Skype call quality is definitely a two-way street.

    Clean Up Junk Files and RAM

    We've put this at the very bottom of the list of ways to get better Skype calls because it's the least important. However, if you've exhausted all of the above, there's a good chance that something else is going on.

    Skype not only needs ample bandwidth to run on the network, it should also have enough RAM and CPU allocation so that the software itself can run properly. You can make sure it's given enough of these system resources by closing out of apps and programs that you don't need to have open during the Skype call.

    For example, if you're on your computer when you make the call, close out of your web browser tabs and any other program that you don't need right now. Some applications simply demand memory that could be better used with Skype while you're on a video call.

    The same is true for your phone or tablet. Swipe away those open apps and even disable location services and notifications if those are being used too frequently during the call.

    Also consider your battery. Low battery might put your phone or laptop into a low-power mode that would most definitely affect the quality of the video or audio call.

    If it's not clear already, make sure Skype is the only app running. It needs all the resources it can be given to run at full speed, especially if you've accomplished all of the above and the call is still not as clear or smooth as you want it to be.

    Another thing you can try is clearing out junk files on your computer, some of which could be affecting the speed of the Skype program. CCleaner is a great program for that.

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