Tips on using Skype

We have been running tests on using Skype in connection with our meetings for close to a year now. There are a number of things we have worked out between us in so far as resolving challenges. This thread is intended to facilitate the sharing of those tips coming from different members.

Please do report the version of Skype in use when reporting issues, in the hopes these would be resolved in later updates!

IKraus's picture

This was posted last June by me over in our Seeking Help board, now moved here to consolidate this thread:

We have been working hard at integrating Skype usage into our meetings, as we feel this will greatly improve accessibility for those who - for whatever reason - cannot attend the live meeting. One challenge we are working on resolving is how to enable the screen-sharing feature with multiple parties. More on that at some later point!

In the meantime, I am going to kick off a 'tips' thread on using Skype with some of my own. By all means, please add your own to this thread!

1) Check your Setup!

While most of us only have one web-cam and mike connected to our machines, many of us do alternate sound output to either speakers or a headset. This is often to reduce annoyances for others that may be in the same room! However, when making Skype calls this can often result in not being able to hear the other party if the sound is being directed to the wrong device.

2) Lighting issues

This is something I'm battling with myself in my office when using my web-cam. My office is lit with a large overhead light that is positioned almost directly over my head. This results in my face being in shadow when using my web-cam. What I am going to do to correct this issue is get a small office desk type lamp that I can mount on my desk hutch that I will turn on when using my web-cam. Not that I want to direct that light right into my eyes, but enough so as to eliminate that face shadow effect.

3) Quality issues

This, in itself is a pretty broad topic, as quality can be dependent on so many things. In my case I'm going to talk about the mike that is part of my web-cam. I found in doing test recordings with that my voice often sounded 'tinny' to my ear. Not that I'm a sound engineer by any means, but there is a noticeable improvement when using other mikes. Then again, when I bought my web-cam I was paying far more attention to the video quality capabilities (HD) than those for the mike. 

IKraus's picture

This is something I noticed first in v. of Skype and is still present in v. (the most recent version of Skype as of the time this is being written). Ever since our ‘calling zone’ area switched to 10-digit dialing I have been using Microsoft’s Outlook to dial most of the numbers I call. I can do this because of an old internal modem installed within Windows 7. (Yes, drivers for it continue to be available and it works just fine!) Needless to say, as we have paid for phone service here that includes free calls for our entire calling region (where most of our calls go); a capability no one is willing to give up.

When v. of Skype was installed and I opened the dialing interface inside Outlook, Skype began taking control of that ability. The only way to stop Skype from grabbing control was to keep it shut down whenever a call should be made in the normal fashion. This is also true in the latest version (v. as well, although it is marginally better behaved. Skype now asks me if it should dial that number using, for example, the credits I have stored in my Skype account. There’s no option to have it release control back to the modem.

This means Skype is kept turned off for the majority of the time, which does impact upon its usefulness. (People wishing to call via Skype must either send e-mails or calls first.) As I know I am far from alone in wishing to preserve usage of some other phone service, I have put together this report on my own experiences.