Skype: Beyond the Basics
You already know that Skype allows you to use VoIP technology to make phone calls over the Internet. Here's a look at some of the more advanced features, and how to incorporate them into your work or social life...
Skype Advanced Features
Skype has a list of features you can use for free, which as you know includes internet calling from computer to computer, instant messaging, and free video chats. Here are some of the fee-based features that Skype offers:
- Making outbound calls to any US or Canada number
- Calling international phones for a low rate
- Take inbound calls by getting a Skype phone number
- Skype Voicemail
- Forwarding calls to your home or cell phone
- Sending SMS messages to cell phones
A Closer Look at Skype Calling
Probably the most useful features are making outbound and taking inbound calls. Just like your regular phone, your Skype phone can be used to call people, and do it from your PC. Because SkypeOut calls are over the Internet and through Skype, you pay a much lower fee, and you get unlimited calling. The fees are reasonable, and competitive with other VoIP lines. Currently you can get one year of unlimited nationwide calling (USA and Canada) for $29.95. You can make international calls with Skype for 2.1 cents per minute to over 30 countries. Can you hear me making cheap international calls now, Mr. Verizon guy?
With SkypeIn, you get a personal phone number that lets you receive calls from anywhere in the world, via Skype. People can call you from regular landline phones, mobile phones, and of course from Skype. Your Skype "phone" will ring if you're online and connected to Skype (anywhere in the world) and you then have three choices. You can answer the call, let the call go to voicemail, or you can forward your Skype calls to a landline or mobile phone. Skype forwarding lets you answer your calls whether you have access to a computer or not, and calls are charged at the SkypeOut rates.
Skype Voicemail is cool because it works both inbound and outbound. Skype will take voice messages when you're offline, away from the phone or busy with another call. But you can also record outgoing voice messages and send them to one or more people with just a few clicks. Voicemail privacy settings allow you to control who can leave you a message.
One of the more interesting features is the ability to chat with multiple people at their computers or on the phone at the same time. When you are in Skype, and you are chatting with someone, you can look at the bottom of the chat box to find the button, "Add more people to this chat." You can chat with as many people as you like that are on your list, and make it a party or a conference call. Individuals can leave without interrupting the rest of the group. If too many people are talking, you can type in a message on the IM screen.
Importing and Exporting Skype Contacts
When you have a long list of friends and you want to share with someone new to Skype, you can export your list of contacts and send it to your friend. If you hit Skype's Contacts tab at the top, the drop down box will have a "Send Contacts" feature. You can chose which contacts you want to send to your friend, and your friend can accept and add all the friends. It's a quick way to get someone started.
You can also import your Outlook contacts by going back to the Contacts tab and selecting the "Import Contacts" option. When you get there, Skype will help you upload from Outlook's address book. Follow the directions to import your phone numbers and contacts.
Letting People Know You Have Skype
Other than passing out your new Skype username or inbound phone number, Skype has a feature that you can add to your website, your MySpace page or other places. MySpace, FaceBook and other social networking sites have places on the profiles, where you can enter your Skype username or contact info. People can hit a button and instantly add you to their contacts list and connect with you.
You can also add a button to your website. This can be done from the Skype Community page. Skype allows you to make Skype Casts, which is sort of like Podcasts, where conversations are recorded, and then added to your blog or website. You can then feature the Skype button, and set a date and time for the next Skype cast so more people and join in.
The Community page also has forums and other ways to find more friends to add to your contact list. You can do a search for name, location or just browse profiles to find someone you can connect with.
Skype AccessoriesIf you use Skype for work or you have a busy Skype social life, you might like to try the accessories Skype has to offer that work with their system. A few basic tools include a custom headset, and a plug-in hand held phone, with optional wired or wireless features. You don't have to buy these exclusively from Skybe, but they do offer some nice compatible selections on the website.
They also have custom regular phones and web cams. They offer wireless options for the phones and headsets and some adapters so you can plug your regular phone in. The Skype Store has more options.
More Skype features are being added regularly, and Skype encourages people to help with the Beta testing. If you happen to visit the Skype website and find a Beta test going on, click the link to learn about the feature and sign up if you are interested. Skype can be a great resource for your business or for connecting with friends and family. Post a comment below and tell us how you're using Skype...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Dec 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Skype: Beyond the Basics (Posted: 5 Dec 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved