A hand holding an iPhone with the Skype app pulled up on the screen

What's new with Skype?

October 30, 2017 - Skype has revamped its desktop client, and it's awesome

In a blog post, Skype announced that its completely redesigned desktop client is finally out of preview and launching today. The company already revamped its iOS app earlier this year, and the new Skype for desktop is very aesthetically similar. It also shares the iOS app's focus on social networking and content sharing.

Skype for desktop has retained all of the features users enjoy, but according to the Skype press team the following improvements and features have also been added based on customer feedback:

  • Customizable themes: On the new Skype for desktop, you'll be able to choose a color and theme for your interface that reflects your mood, personality, or time of day.
  • Chat list: If you like to keep everything categorized and tidy like me, you're in luck: you can now organize your Skype contact list by time, unread, or status. You can also pin your favorite people or groups so they'll always be easily accessible when you need to stay in touch with them. To make things nicer for yourself visually, you can change your chat list view from standard to compact, or collapse it completely to focus more on your content.
  • Cloud-based: Skype is now cloud-based, which means that sharing files, photos, and videos is pretty painless. You can send up to 300 MB of content over Skype by simply dragging and dropping the file into your chat. Skype also uses less battery power now that it's in the cloud.
  • Cross-device functionality: Skype now works across multiple devices including your smartphone, your desktop computer, your Xbox, your smart speakers, and more. Because of this, your messages and content will be available anywhere you have Skype installed.
  • Notification panel: In the new Skype for desktop you can now click on the little bell icon in the top righthand corner of your chat list to access your notification panel. From this central place, you'll see reactions to your messages, @mentions in group conversations, or if someone has quoted you. After doing that, you can jump to any conversation you've been notified about by clicking on it in the panel.
  • Chat media gallery: Similar to how you can browse media that you've sent to a contact in iMessage, you can now access any photo or video you've sent or received in a chat. All you have to do is click Gallery to see media, links, and files—you can even sort them by type.
  • Reactions: Easily express how you're feeling by reacting to messages in conversations or during video calls. Simply click the reaction icon so everyone knows how you're feeling (think sending people smiley faces and hearts during live streaming videos on other social media sites).
  • @mentions: You can now tag people in group chats. Just type the @ symbol followed by their name, and you'll be able to send them a notification so that they can easily respond to the message.
  • Status updates: With the new Skype for desktop, you can let your contacts know when you are and aren't available to chat by changing your presence, or set a mood message to share what's going on (i.e. busy listening to my favorite podcast right now, sorry!).
  • Bots: Just like on Skype for iOS, bots like Scoop and Hipmunk will now be on Skype's desktop client to help you make plans and stay informed. You can do everything from finding pricing and seating options with the StubHub bot to planning a weekend getaway with the Expedia bot.

What is Skype?

Skype is a free software program that allows you to make video and audio calls peer-to-peer or in groups. Though it is now owned by Microsoft, it was first released in 2003 and was created by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (in collaboration with Kazaa developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn). With Skype, you can send instant messages and share files with friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else you'd like to converse with, no matter where you are in the world. As long as you have an internet connection, you can use Skype to chat with one or more people face-to-face.

Skype also offers a paid subscription tier that lets users do even more, like send SMS messages and make audio calls to any phone, locally or internationally.

What devices can I use to access Skype?

Skype can be accessed on computers that run Windows, Linux, and macOS X. You can also download it on your tablet, smartphone, and Xbox One. Unfortunately, Skype has temporarily discontinued support for both Apple Watch and Android Wear, but according to Skype Support, that may be reinstated soon.

How do I get it?

If you're interested in downloading Skype's desktop client, you can do that here. If you're looking to add it to a mobile device, select the version you need from the list below:

Smartphones

Tablets

How does it work?

In order to use Skype, you'll need to first sign up for a Microsoft account. If you don't already have one, you can choose to create one. Once you've done so, you can immediately begin adding Skype contacts by searching for either their Skype screen name, email address, phone number, or display name. All you have to do is click or tap the Contacts button in the lefthand sidebar (it looks like a little address book), and then select the little icon at the top right of the screen that looks like a person next to a plus sign. Before you do this, though, I'd suggest uploading a profile photo and inputting your name so the people you'd like to add to your contacts will recognize you. Once you've filled your address book, you can start video calling, chatting, and sharing files to your heart's content. You can use Skype to do everything from working with peers on projects to holding meetings with coworkers to hanging out with faraway friends and relatives.

What can I do on Skype?

Calling

  • Video calling: Skype offers free video calling that allows you to have a face-to-face conversation with anyone else who has either Skype and a webcam or a compatible mobile device.
  • Audio calling: With Skype, you can make Skype-to-Skype calls with anyone, no matter their location. These calls are free and can last as long as your heart desires. If the individual you'd like to contact doesn't have Skype, you can also pay low rates to call mobile phones and landlines. With a paid plan, you also have the option to forward Skype calls to any phone in case you're not on Skype when someone needs to contact you.
  • Conference calling: In Skype's group calls, you can host a group video chat or audio conference call for up to 25 people. This is great for sharing news with the entire family, hanging out with multiple friends at once, or undertaking a work-related task with a team of colleagues.
  • Voicemail: If you so choose, you can set up a voicemail on Skype that will take calls for you when you're busy or aren't using the program. Much like regular voicemails, you can save or delete them and listen to them at your leisure.

Messaging

  • Instant messaging: When you're not feeling up to calling, Skype allows you to instant message your friends in a format similar to other IM services like Facebook Messenger. Like Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls, it's 100% free, and you can either chat with a single person or a group of people.
  • Video messaging: If your friends aren't online but you have a moment you'd like to share with them right away, you can choose to record and send them a video message by using the video messaging service within Skype.
  • SMS texting: This feature lets users send text messages to any mobile device. However, like making audio calls to non-Skype phones, this does cost a bit of money.

Sharing

  • Screen sharing: Need to collaborate with a client or give a friend a tutorial? With Skype, you can share your screen with whoever you're calling, making it easy to work on projects together.
  • File transfer: You can send, receive, and view any type of file over Skype. That means photos, videos, presentations, gifs — go all out. Though there are size limits to files and some types of files may require certain software to view properly, as long as your friend has enough storage space, they can access and save any files you send them for 30 days.
  • Contact sharing: Say your grandma just joined Skype. She's going to need the rest of the family's contact info, right? Skype makes it super easy to transfer contacts to a friend or family member. All you have to do is drag and drop the contact you want to share into your chat with grandma so she can add them to her own contact list.

Other

  • Language translation: Looking to break the language barrier with a Skype friend who has a different mother tongue? Now you can! Skype has a voice translator for video calls that currently works in 8 languages, as well as a text translator that's available in more than 50 languages for instant messaging. It uses machine learning to translate your convos, so the more you use it, the better it gets. Unfortunately though, this is a feature that's only available on devices with Windows 7 or above.
  • Skype for Slack: If you use Slack in the workplace, you can move your work conversations from your office's channel or a DM into a free group call with Skype. All you have to do is install the Skype slack app and then type /skype into the message input to start a voice or video call. In order to use Skype for Slack, you need to have Skype installed locally on your device as well.

How can I make myself look good on Skype?

Want to look your best while video chatting with friends, co-podcasters, coworkers, and more? Check out our tips here so you can look as beautiful and fly as you do in person.

Questions?

Still have some burning Skype questions you desperately need answered? Share them with us in the comments below and we'll do our best to help you out!