We take a look at how contact importing to Skype works. This is especially useful if you are just starting on Skype and don’t yet have many friends on Skype, but have built up contact lists in your e-mail programs and Instant Messenger clients. The Skype Import Contacts feature lets you see if any of them can already be found on Skype — maybe they started using it and just forgot to tell you? — and if not, you can easily send an e-mail to let them know you’ve moved on to Skype.
]]>This discussion is based on the contact import functionality as seen in Skype for Windows 1.3. Earlier and later versions, as well as other platforms, may somewhat differ.
When registering a new Skype Name, you may start contact import automatically by checking the relevant checkbox. In this case, you are not asked for further confirmation to import contacts – it starts right away after you click Next.
If you have already signed in to Skype with your existing Skype Name, you may start the contact import by choosing *Import Contacts…* from the *Tools* menu.
If you manually started contact importing, you are asked to click *Next*. If you started contact importing when creating a new Skype Name, this step is skipped and import starts immediately.
The first step that Skype does is that it goes through your computer, looking for contacts in MSN Messenger, Opera, Outlook and Outlook Express. (If you don’t have some of these programs, they are of course just skipped. And we’re working on more importers.) When doing that, Skype informs you of the programs that it’s currently working on.
After this step, Skype merges the contacts found from your computer into one big list and starts searching for them in the Skype global user directory, to see if any of them already have Skype Names. It uses a number of parameters to perform the search mainly name and e-mail addresses. (Worth noting here that while you can’t see the e-mail addresses of other users in Skype global directory for various reasons, including privacy protection, you can search by e-mail address.) If you have many contacts, the search may take quite a while, so you may go on and do other things while it’s going on.
After the search is done, you are presented with the results. This is an interesting dialog because it comes to focus automatically even if the wizard was minimized or behind other windows previously. This is because you now need to actually do something about the results. However, feedback has shown this is not that great for everyone because remember above, when creating a Skype Name, you could select the option to start search automatically? Many novice users do that without going into too much detail reading the text. And then when the results dialog pops up a while later, they’re confused about what should they do now. So we’ve got some improvements to do here.
Anyway, you now have the list of search results found on the Skype network.
The search is inevitably somewhat error-prone, so you manually have to select if you want to add any of the found contacts to your contact list right away. You can click on the blue profile button to review full profiles. After you select some of them and click Next, they are added to your contacts and you request authorization from them as usual.
After clicking Next, you see the list of people who you didn’t add to your contact list. You can now send them an invitation by e-mail to use Skype. Again, to protect the innocent and not to spam unknown strangers, you should manually check the contacts that you are really sure you want to send the mail to.
You are presented with the default text for the e-mail and can modify it in any way you want — such as write in your own language, or write something completely different from the default. After done editing, click Send. The e-mail is then sent and you are taken to a page that confirms all ended well.
And just to prove that we’re not spamming your contacts to death, here’s an example e-mail they will receive.
Have you used the Import Contacts feature? Would it need changes to be more useful to you? Have you heard from someone who likes it a lot, or doesn’t like at all? Let us know.