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Three Skype Tips from Super User and Author Jim Courtney

As I go out to local social networking events around Toronto, people often want to talk about Skype when they learn I’ve written a book called Experience Skype to the Max. I tend to find myself explaining the details of Skype features and offerings that can make a big difference.

Let’s take a look at a few that came up during a recent conversation:

Skype Premium: Yes, a Skype Premium subscription is required to make Group Video calls. But it also includes two bonus features:

  • An unlimited calling plan subscription to phones within your home country code comes with three-month and one year Skype Premium subscriptions. If you’re in Canada or United States, your plan will include calls to both those countries.
  • Free Live Chat support comes with Skype Premium as well, giving you ready access to folks who can answer questions about hardware, Internet connections and Skype features.

S4W5_6.SelectSharedWindow.300px.jpgIt’s worth mentioning that only the host of a Group Video call requires a Skype Premium subscription. Group Video calls can support up to ten participants, including participants who may only be able to participate by voice only. At any point in time one party on the call can also share his/her screen. Note that screen sharing remains free on 1:1 Skype calls; you simply need to turn off video for the party that wants to share a screen.

group.jpgSkype offers 25 percent and 50 percent discounts for 3- and 12-month Skype Premium subscriptions respectively, bringing your cost down as low as $4.50 per month.

persistent group chat.jpgPersistent group chat: One of the hidden gems of Skype is Group Chat. Why? Skype chats, including Group Chats, can go on forever. I have participated in one 150-participant worldwide group chat that has been running for over five years (since May 2007).

The bonus is that these chats are archived. You can search for exchanged URLs, email addresses, passwords, meeting agendas and all the other activity of a common interest group within a chat session. If you’re using Skype among colleagues, partners or customers, having a group chat is also great for collaborating and building rapport across worldwide business teams. And Skype provides tools to manage the group chat’s topic and its participants.

file share.jpgSending a file: You can send a file to any of your Skype contacts by right-clicking on their name and selecting “Send File.” You can also do it from a chat (either a one-on-one or with a whole group) from the “+” menu at the top of the chat box. Skype doesn’t limit the size of files you send, so it’s a great option if you can’t send big files via email.

Two caveats on sending a file:

    • File transfer is available on Skype for Windows Desktop, Skype for Mac, Skype for Linux and Skype for Android.
  • When sending files to a Group, only those members of the Group who are also accepted Contacts of the sender can receive the file. This helps to prevent spamming in Groups where not all parties are known to each other.

These are just a few of the many offerings that can enhance your experience with Skype, whether you are using Skype as a tool for personal or business use. Do you have a few tips of your own? Feel free to add them in the comments below, or by sharing via Twitter with @Skype and hashtag #SkypeTips.

Want the complete story on Experiencing Skype to the Max? Check out Jim Courtney’s eBook, Experience Skype to the Max, for the complete picture of the Skype ecosystem, including not only software but also hardware that will give you the best audio and video quality.

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