How to Use Skype

Voice or video chat on Android, your PC, a Mac or on the web

An older couple using Skype on an iPad

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Skype is a popular way to make phone calls, have a video chat, or even chat via text online, and much of it is even free. Skype is owned by Microsoft, and is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Here's what you need to use Skype, no matter the platform.

What You Need To Use Skype

To use Skype, you need four things:

  • Smartphone or a computer that meets Skype's system requirements, which we'll discuss platform-by-platform below
  • An internet connection
  • A microphone
  • A Microsoft ID

If a microphone is built into your computer already (that's the case on mobile devices as well as notebook computers), Skype will find and use it automatically. On mobile, Skype will automatically install itself. For Mac and Windows, you may need to open install the software yourself. If you want to do video calls, you'll also need a webcam connected to your device.

A Microsoft ID is similar to a Google account, where one username and password gives you access to the entire suite of web services Microsoft offers. If you already use those services, such as if you have a Hotmail account or if you buy and download apps from the Windows Store, you can use that account to log into Skype, no further registration needed. If you don’t have one:

Go to Microsoft’s account page and click on the “Create Account” button.

Enter the email account you’d like to use. We recommend using the account that aligns with how you’ll use Skype, as this name and ID will be searchable by other Skype users, and this will make it easier for people to contact you. For example, if you’ll be making business calls, your business email is a good choice. Then, obviously, pick a password that's hard for someone to guess.

Microsoft account password page

In a separate tab or window, go to the email account you entered. Microsoft will send you a four-digit code to enter that will verify your account. Enter that code and you’ll have a Microsoft ID! Use it to log into Skype using either the browser version at web.skype.com or the app you've downloaded from Skype's official site.

Skype can be a fun and useful tool, and with a little practice, you can get the hang of it. Make a few calls with a few friends and you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to stay in touch.

Skype on the Web

We're going to cover using Skype in an app, but Skype works really well in a web browser too. So if you just need to make a quick call, read over our full guide to using Skype through a Web browser.

How to Use Skype

Video and voice calls between two Skype accounts on any platform are completely free, but there's a cost if you want to call a dedicated phone number, such as someone's mobile number or their landline. Also remember that if you use Skype on mobile or with a mobile hotspot, that the app will use your data allotment on that device. For this tutorial, we'll be using screenshots from the macOS version of Skype, but the apps available all use approximately the same layout.

Skype works the same across all the different platforms, but they don't always look identical. After reading this article you'll be able to use Skype on any of the most popular systems.

How to Make a Call on Skype

Screenshot of Skype on macOS showing the Search field

If you know the Skype name of the person you’d like to reach, you can enter that in the search bar you see in the upper left-hand corner, underneath your name.

Click on the person you want to call, and it'll take you to a window that fills most of the screen. In the upper right-hand corner, there will be three buttons. For a video call, click the camera icon. For a voice call, click the phone icon. The third icon, a person and a plus sign icon, lets you add someone to a call.

Three Skype buttons in macOS version of Skype: video call, audio call, add person

When you click an icon, Skype will “ring” a person until they pick up. Make sure your microphone is turned on and that you have your speakers or headphones set to a comfortable level. If you’re using video, be sure the camera is also on.

Skype for macOS calling screen

Making traditional (some would say "old fashioned") phone calls is even simpler. Click on the phone pad button in the upper left-hand corner, and you’ll be taken to a phone dial pad. When you type in a number, it will appear at the top of the window. If you’re calling overseas, underneath the number, there will be a drop-down menu that adds the country code to your dial, so you won’t need to enter that first.

Dialpad for making Skype calls to regular phone numbers in macOS

How to Answer a Call on Skype

When you receive a call on Skype, your phone or computer will "ring." This is controlled by the volume settings of your device, so if you've muted it, you may not hear a ring. but you'll definitely see it on the screen. To answer, click on the window that pops up on your desktop, or tap the screen of your phone.

Green telephone icon to answer Skype calls on macOS

How to Hang Up a Skype Call

When you're done speaking with a person, press the red button with a phone in the center; it will be in the lower right hand corner of your call window.

Red telephone hang up button in Skype for macOS

Skype On Mac

In order to use Skype's app on the Mac, you'll need to have at least MacOS X 10.9 or higher. However, if you have an older Mac you should be able to log into the web version and use that instead.

Skype On iOS

Skype's app can be found in the App Store, but will only work with iPhones and iPad running iOS 8, or higher. If your device was first released in 2014 or later, it will work. Unfortunately, Skype's browser functionality isn't supported on mobile phones. Also, in order to add someone to a call, you'll need to make the call, and then press the person and plus sign at the bottom of the screen.

Three iOS screens of Skype app showing Add people and Add buttons

Skype On Windows

Skype is very, very Windows friendly. It will work with any computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher. However, you may also need to upgrade your version of Internet Explorer: Windows XP SP3 will need Explorer updated to at least version 8, and Windows 7 users will need to use at least Internet Explorer 11. You can find those downloads on Microsoft's Internet Explorer support page. Also note that if you use a version of Windows before Windows 7, the Skype app will be the only supported method of making calls.

Screenshot of Skype on Windows 10

Skype On Android

Skype will work on any Android device version 4.04 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. If your device was released after 2012, Skype will work. You can download Skype from the Google Play store. Similar to iOS, to add someone to a call, you first need to make a call, then press the plus sign at the bottom of the screen, in the center. The plus sign will rotate and reveal a menu, with the add person sign in the lower left-hand corner.

Three Android screens showing Skype calling and Add people buttons