Cut phone costs with Skype

Saving money with internet telephony with Skype.
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  • Updated:3 Apr 2007

02.What you need

To start using Skype you need at least a speaker and microphone on your PC, but preferably a telephony-style headset with built in microphone.

For greater convenience and sound quality, rather than have to use your PC and a headset for Skype, you can buy a dedicated Skype-compatible handset that looks and works just like a standard phone. You can even buy a dual purpose handset that works like a standard telephone as well as a Skype phone.

Before you download and set up Skype you also need to make sure you have the following:

  • A computer running Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. Skype will also run on some Linux distributions.
  • Speakers and a microphone (they can be either built-in or separate).
  • A webcam (if you want to make video calls).
  • A broadband internet connection is highly recommended.
  • Skype names to add to your contact list.
  • Skype software.

How to start

Go to Skype’s main page at and click Download in the menu at the top of the page. The site will detect whether you’re on a Mac or PC and take you to the appropriate download page.

  • Click the Download now button, and once again on the next page.
  • Save the installation application SkypeSetup.exe to your hard drive.
  • Open the saved setup file and double click it to install Skype. The program will install the Google Toolbar by default if you don’t have it, so untick the option unless you’d like the extra software.
  • You can also chose not install an Internet Explorer add-on and Mozilla Firefox extension that lets you call phone numbers listed on web pages. When you’ve finished, click Start Skype.
  • The setup wizard takes you through the steps to set up a new user account, including choosing a unique Skype name and password and entering some personal information. If your chosen Skype name is already in use, you’ll see a list of alternatives — pick one or try another name and click Sign In.
  • Once this process is complete you’ll see a Getting Started guide, which steps you through checking that your sound works, letting you make a test call to check your microphone and speakers.
  • Before you can call other users, you need to add them to your contact list.
    Go to Contacts and click Add a Contact.
    Type your contact’s Skype name, full name or the email address then click Find. Skype will locate your contact or present a list of possibilities to choose from.
    Select the contact then click Add Skype contact.
  • Once you add a contact to your list, you can make a voice call by clicking the contact name, then the green Call button (which looks like a telephone handset). When your friend answers, just start talking. You can also begin a text conversation by clicking the blue Chat button. Chat works like most instant messaging programs, letting you type and receive messages and files.
  • When you finish using Skype you can sign out from the File menu. Next time you want to use the program, double click the Skype icon on the desktop or in your System Tray.

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