If you’re a frequent user of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications, there's a good chance you probably started with Skype. The video chat and voice call service has come a long way since its release 12 years ago, with many new features and several new looks.
Since then, many new VoIP services have sprung up, but Skype has stayed a strong contender in the game of keeping long distance relationships going and enabling the constant obligatory calls to your mother to prove you’re still alive. If you’ve evolved to FaceTiming or WhatsApp-calling your friends, go back and try Skype again with these tips. It’ll change your experience completely.
Note: most of these features apply to the Windows version of Skype, which is inherently more tweakable.
1. Backup your chat history
Whether you’re an emotional sap who loves to wax nostalgic over old chat logs or a methodical collector who needs to record everything, this tip’s for you.
To backup your Skype chat history on Windows, open the Run command by pressing [Win]+[R], and enter the command "%appdata%\skype" in the console. When a new window opens up, click on the folder with your Skype ID, and then go into the “main.db” file. There, you’ll find logs of all your Skype chats, which you can copy or save to your heart’s content.
2. Skype Wi-Fi
If you’re desperate for Wi-Fi and have a few Skype Credits to spare, you can use them to connect you to any of the 2 million Skype-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. For Singaporeans, it's best used outside the country. One of the Skype-enabled Wi-Fi networks in Singapore is Wireless@SG, which is already free to use for Singaporeans, so there's no point spending your precious Skype credits on a free network.
To see where the hotspots are, check out the Skype hotspot map.
3. Remove ads
No one likes ads, especially in communication mediums like Skype. To get rid of the Skype ads from your Windows app, go to "Control Panel” and click on “Network and Internet.” After that, click “Internet Options,” then the “Security” tab, and after that “Restricted sites.” Access the “Sites” page, where you can list all the websites you want to restrict on that PC and add "https://apps.skype.com/“ in the field.
After you restart your PC, all the ads will be gone.
As an extra bonus, you can also remove the ad placeholders altogether. To do so, open Skype profile folder [win]+[r] and enter "%appdata%\Skype" in the console. After which, locate the folder with your Skype ID on it and look for a note called "config.xml." Open it with notepad, search for the line "<AdvertPlaceholder>1</Advert-Placeholder>" and replace it with "<AdvertPlaceholder>0</Advert-Placeholder>."
4. Skype call forwarding
If you’re expecting a call on Skype but are on the move, you have two options. The first option is to download the Skype app and make use of your data or public Wi-Fi to take the call. The other is to forward your calls to a mobile or landline number. To do so, click on “Tools” in the top menu, and then “Options.” Click on the “Call forwarding” option, and enter the phone number of choice.
The only issue with this option is that you will be charged for the call through your Skype credits. Skype to Skype call forward is free, but to pick up Skype calls through a mobile or landline comes with a cost. It better be an important call.
5. Use Skype as a security camera
Who knew that Skype could become a makeshift security camera? You can, with a simple set up. First, get a second account, which will be your dedicated viewing account. Sign into this new account on your home PC, and place your webcam in the direction you want. Next, go to your Preferences > Calls > Answer automatically, and configure it to answer automatically with video. After that, all you have to do is to call this account and you would have successfully 'hijacked' your webcam.
Recommended uses include keeping an eye on who goes into your room or watching your dog pine for you while you’re at work.
6. Record Skype Calls
If you’re conducting an interview or need to collect valuable information through a Skype call, it may be a good idea to record it. Apps like Free Video Call Recorder for Skype are great for simple recording, linking directly to your Skype app to record calls as audio files. Note that apps may not be able to record outgoing calls using Skype credits.
7. Edit sent messages
Typos are a bitch, but it's not a problem if you use Skype. To edit a message, just right-click it and select “Edit Message” from the drop-down menu.
This will bring the sent message down to the text box. Make your changes, and send it again. Your message will then reflect your edits.
To remove the message completely, right-click the message and select “Remove message” from the drop-down menu.
8. Hidden Smileys and emoticon
Everyone loves emoticons, but none as much as Skype users do. With a large variety of smileys, you can express pretty much anything you want; see the full list here. In the meantime here are some choice emoticons to try:
Bug – (bug)
Broken heart – (u)
Poolparty – (poolparty)
Talking – (talk)
Headbang – (headbang)
Smoking – (smoking) / (smoke) (ci)
Skype – (skype)
Drunk – (drunk)
9. Give your contacts secret nicknames
You could opt to receive calls from people with their real names, or you could get calls from “Slavedriver Extraordinaire” or “That Idiot Who Owes Me $50.” Renaming the people you call may not be best practice if you use Skype for work but it’s still hilarious. To rename people on your contact list, just right-click on their name, and select Rename. You’re limited to 120 characters, which is plenty, but points to you if you manage to use them all.
10. Send a video message
Video is in vogue, so instead of sending a boring text message to your Skype contacts, try sending them a video message instead. To do so, right-click on the person you want to send a message to, and select "Video Message." A new window will pop open, and you’ll be able to record anything you want from your webcam. I say anything, but I’d advise against taking your pants off for this.
11. Secret hotkeys and commands
The piece de resistance of Skype tips comes in the form of secret chat commands you can use. To remove a member from the chat, type “/kick [Name of the person you want to remove]” within the chat. To start a group call while in a chat, simply type "/golive” without missing a beat. To see a list of the available commands, type "/help" into the chat.
If you rather select your own shortcuts, you can create your own personalised HotKeys. Click on “Advanced” and then “Hotkeys” from the drop-down menu to reveal all the available hotkeys that you can customise to taste.
12. Screenshare during your calls
If you ever need to screen share, you can do so through a Skype call. With a call in progress, click on the “+” icon, and select “Share screens.” This trick is perfect for anything from business meetings to helping your folks solve their tech issues.
Skype has recently added Chat Bots to the system, allowing you to do anything from playing games to getting useful information from your AI friends. To add a bot to your Skype chat, go to the "Contacts" drop down menu and click “Add bot.” Most of them are stock Bing tools, but there’s also Murphy, who makes ridiculous pictures of people for you, Getty Images, which provides you links to any pictures you ask for, and Mitsuki, a very weird bot that may hold better conversations than most people.