Top Five Skype Tips

Need to get more out of Skype? You're not alone. But help is on the way --- we offer up our five most important Skype tips.

May 19, 2006

5 Min Read
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Need to get more out of Skype? Here are the five most important things you can do. Being the webmaster of and the author of 'Skype Me!' by Syngress Press I am often asked for help. In this article I will be discussing my top five Skype tips.

#1 – Get Stats About Your Calls

Turn on 'Display Technical Call Info'. From the 'Tools' Menu, select 'Options' and then select 'Advanced'. There you will see the last option 'Display Technical Call Info'. This will allow you to see several important statistics about your Skype call. Why is this important? If you are experiencing a poor call, the information provided could help you to determine why your call quality may be bad or why your file transfers are slow.

In the following two screenshots, the first is what you would expect in a good Skype call, and the second is what you could expect from a call to or from a corporate network or a poor home configuration. You see this information when you drag you mouse over your contacts image in the main Skype window once you are on a call.

There are two important settings. The first is the 'Roundtrip', the second is the 'SessionOut' and 'SessionIn' readings. The first thing to watch out for is how many milliseconds the Roundtrip is. If you are over 100ms, then your call will degrade and have delays, like an old fashioned long-distance telephone call. The second thing to watch out for is if the call is being relayed. If your call shows 'Relay_UDP' or Relay_TCP then you do not have a direct peer-to-peer connection. The larger the Roundtrip number the longer the delay, and anything over 125ms will start to be obvious. Relayed calls always have a higher Roundtrip and the combination means your call will probably be poor. If the call is between two home users and you are getting a relayed call, this means your home DSL/cable router is most likely old and not able to handle peer-to-peer connections so an upgrade is in order. If you are not using a DSL/Cable router than you have a configuration issue that needs to be corrected.

#2 – Add a Gateway or Skype Phone

The second tip is to add a Skype enabled device so that you can use Skype on your regular cordless telephone or on a telephone connected to your computer that allows you to make and receive calls anywhere in your home or office. As I discussed in my previous article "Top 5 Skype Add-ons" ( there is the ActionTec Internet Phone Wizard that allows you to hook up a regular telephone, preferably a cordless phone base. There is also the DualPhone that is both a regular telephone and Skype phone in one. Adding one of these devices will give you the freedom of not having to sit in front of your computer to make or receive Skype calls. They will make Skype look, feel and act just like a regular telephone call.

#3 – Set Your Status, Privacy, and Mood MessageYou want Skype to be a tool to enhance communications with others, not something that will annoy you throughout the day because you receive calls when you don't want to, or get callsfrom people to whom you don't want to talk. You can solve the problem by using Skype's Privacy settings and a Mood message that will help tell your contacts or potential contacts how to reach you and when.

Setting your 'Status' will tell your contacts of your availability. Find it under the 'File' menu and the 'Change Online Status' option or from your task bar by right-clicking on your Skype icon, as you see from the following screen shot and options.

By setting your status, your contacts will have a better idea of what your online status is. Add to that the setting of your Privacy options under the 'Tools' menu under 'Options' and then the 'Privacy' settings. Here you want to make sure you set your privacy settings so that you are not bothered by strangers, unless you want to be. I do want to be contacted by anyone for support and video call testing. If you want to limit who may contact you, adjust these settings. If you do not want to be contacted by anyone other than the contacts you have added to your list, this is where you do it.

The last item in this tip is to set your Mood Message so that people who might contact you can see a message from you in their contacts list. You set your Mood Message by clicking on your name at the top of the main Skype window and it will expand like the following image shows. You enter whatever message you want to say to tell your contacts how you would like to be contacted.

When you set your Mood Message your contacts will see the following:

So by setting your Status, Privacy settings and Mood Message you can let your contacts know when and how to contact you.

#4 – Add SkypeOutIf you are not using SkypeOut, sign up for it. SkypeOut is like a calling card you add to Skype. SkypeOut allows you to call any landline telephone or cell phone in the world inexpensively. In fact, you can make free, unlimited calls to phones in the US and Canada. SkypeOut works like a calling card, you signup for minutes on the Skype website and you are then able to make a Skype call to a telephone number.

#5 – Add SkypeIn

SkypeIn lets you have a local phone number local so that anyone can call you using a telephone and a local number to reach you on your computer via Skype. For example, if you have several family members in California and you live in Wisconsin, your California contacts can call you using a regular telephone calling your California SkypeIn number and reach you in Wisconsin.

Overseas, you could have a telephone number in one of the following countries; Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong S.A.R., Japan, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. You can give your contacts an inexpensive way to contact you anywhere in the world by giving them a local SkypeIn telephone number. SkypeIn also gives you a voicemail account for free when you sign up. SkypeIn costs 10 Euro for 3 months or 30 Euro for a year, voice mail included.

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