Skype Settings

In my previous posts, I introduced Skype, told you how to install Skype, and gave you basic instructions on how to use Skype.

In this post, I want to walk you through the various options you have for starting Skype on your PC, and the features you can control from the Options window.

This post will deal with:

  • Startup options
  • Accepting or rejecting an invitation from another Skype user
  • Text chatting
  • The difference between text chatting and SMS (text messaging)
  • Using the Options window

Once again, this post will be aimed at users of Windows XP. The features discussed here are available on Skype for Mac and Linux and other versions of Windows as well, but the ways of accessing them may differ.

Starting Skype

There are two basic ways of starting Skype on your PC, automatically and manually:

  • By automatically, I mean that you can set Skype to start up whenever you start up your PC.
  • By manually, I mean that you have chosen NOT to use automatic startup, so you need to click something to start Skype.

Manual Startup

If you followed my installation instructions, you will be using manual startup. There are three basic ways to start up manually:

1. The installer application created a Skype launch icon on your desktop:

You can start Skype manually by finding and clicking that icon on your desktop.

2. Another option is to install the Skype launch icon in your Windows Taskbar (at the bottom of the screen, next to Start button). Just right-click on the icon and hold down the mouse button while you drag the icon to the left side of your Taskbar, near the Start button. When a black bar appears, lift your finger from the mouse button, and the icon will appear in the Taskbar and remain there permanently. From then on, to start Skype manually, you can simply click on the Skype icon in the Taskbar.

3. The third manual option is to right-click the Start button and hold the mouse button down until the Programs menu appears. Hold the mouse over Programs until the Programs pop-up menu is displayed (to the right). Scroll to the Skype program and lift your finger from the mouse button. Skype will start up.

Start Skype from Start button

Automatic Startup

You can set Skype to start up automatically every time you start up your PC. Here’s how:

1. Start Skype by any of the manual methods shown above.

2. From the Skype Home screen, pull down the Tools menu and choose Options.

In the Options window that appears, you will see the options for “General settings.” (If you don’t see them, just click on the words “General settings” in the left-hand column.)

3. To have Skype start up automatically when you start your PC, click the checkbox next to the words “Start Skype when I start Windows.”

Then click the Save button at the bottom of the window, and you’re done.

The next time you start your computer, Skype will start up, automatically.

Accepting or rejecting an invitation from another Skype user

From time to time, you may see “contact requests” from other users. If you accept a contact request, that user will be added to your list of Skype contacts, and they will be able to call you using Skype. If you reject the request, you also have the option of “blocking” that user from contacting you again.

Contact requests appear on your Skype Home page in the left-hand column, like this:

To view the request, click the “Contact request” box, shown by the red oval in the graphic. Skype will display the request like this:

You have the four options shown in the buttons on the request form:

1. Add to Contacts: Add this person to your Contact list and allow them to call you.

2. View Profile: If you are not sure you know this person, you can view his or her Skype profile to help you decide.

3. Ignore: Simply do not respond to the request

4. Block: Prevent this person from calling you via Skype

Simply click the button that represents your choice.

Text chatting and SMS

Text chatting (sometimes called “Instant messaging” or “IM”) is a way of sending typed messages to a Skype contact instead of attempting a voice or video call. Text chatting is a computer-to-computer communication.

In contrast, SMS (Short Message Service), also known as “texting,” is how mobile phones send and receive text messages: It’s what all the kids are doing all the time, these days. You can use Skype to send SMS text messages to mobile phones, but that is not a free service in Skype—you have to pay for it.

Computer-to-computer text chatting, in contrast, is free. The following instructions apply to the free Skype text chatting option.

When you send a Skype text message, it appears in a Skype window on the other person’s computer (if they have Skype up and running). They can respond, and you can carry on a typed conversation.

Here’s how to initiate and carry out a text chat:

1. To initiate the chat, place your mouse arrow over the contact person in your contact list. Two icons will appear, giving you the choice of starting an audio/video call or a text chat. To start a text chat, right-click the blue text-chat icon:

At the bottom of the Skype window, a chat message box will appear:

Simply type your message in the box, and hit the Return key.

Every time you hit the Return key, whatever you have typed is sent to your contact.

When your contact replies to your message, his or her answer will appear in the same text box, under your message. You can continue the conversation as long as you like.

You can carry on text chatting even while you are video chatting with the same person — for example, to show how something is spelled, or to send a link to a website. You can even start a text chat with a one person while video chatting with another, if you have enough attention to do both at once!

Using the Options window

The Options window allows you to set your preferences for many features of Skype. You can explore these options by clicking the main headings in the left-hand column of the Options window.

The available option settings include:

General:

Audio settings (Choose microphone, speakers, etc.)

Sounds (Select which events play a sound, and which sound they play.)

Video settings (camera, etc.)

Skype Access (a way to browse the internet at wireless “hotspots,” such as Internet cafés, using Skype Credit as payment)

Privacy:

Privacy Settings (Choose whether to allow calls from people you do not know or to restrict access to contacts you have added to your Skype contact list)

Blocked contacts (Set up and manage a list of people whom you do not allow to contact you via Skype)

Notifications:

Notification Settings (Choose which events should appear in the Windows tray)

Alerts & messages (Control whether to receive Skype tips and promotional messages, which typically appear when you start up Skype)

Sounds (Same options as in the General/Sounds option panel, described above)

Calls:

Call settings (Allow anyone to call you, or only people in your Contact list.)

Call forwarding (Allows Skype calls to be forwarded to your regular or mobile phones. Caution: This service is not free.)

Voicemail (Lets Skype take a message if you’re offline when someone calls. Again, this service is not free.)

Video settings (Same options as in the General/Video settings option panel, described above)

IM & SMS:

IM settings (Choose whether to allow Instant Messages (Skype text messages) from people you do not know, or to restrict access to contacts you have added to your Skype contact list.)

IMS Appearance (Choose whether to show “emoticons” or not, and whether to show a timestamp next to instant messages—that is, the time when the IM was sent.)

SMS settings (SMS, or Short Message Service, is another name for “texting”: sending text messages to and from mobile phones. You can use Skype to exchange SMS text messages with your friends’ mobile phones, but again, this is a paid, not a free, service in Skype.)

Advanced options:

Advanced settings (Using Skype to call “callto:” links on the web, etc.)

Connection (Choosing which software port to use for incoming connections, etc.)

Hotkeys (Allows you to use keyboard shortcuts for various Skype menu commands)

Bye for now!

Let us know if you find these instructions useful, and/or if there are other Skype topics you would like to see addressed on Aphasia Corner.

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  1. oruspu  on December 3rd, 2016 @ 5:18 pm
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