How to reach out, see and talk with Windows users --A tutorial by a Mac User Peter Phun
As Mac users, we've become accustomed to being left out as our friends in the Windows world are busy video chatting. Sure, our “iChat” looks better and work great but we were never given much consideration in terms of support.
The latest release of Skype version 2.5.038, though still a beta version, allows Mac users to video chat with anyone. All that is required is for both users to have a broadband connection, webcam and the software installed.
I recently coaxed my cousin in Malaysia to download and install Skype. I don't have the specifics about his Windows machine but I'm fairly confident those were non-factors.
I convinced him that if he got a webcam, we could not only speak for free but see each other as well. He told me webcams could cost upwards of 400 ringgit (about $100). I guess he found one for 30 ringgit, so before long I was video chatting with him, my aunt and my mum.
- On my end, I used this:
- 17" G4 powerbook
- Apple's iSight firewire webcam
- Skype version 2.5.038
- Access to broadband via wireless network to dsl
- Plantronics usb headset which was bundled with “Via Voice” voice dictation software.
I'll leave you to read about Skype in your own leisure. It's a voice over internet phone company and they offer various more economical ways of making local and international phone calls. Naturally they also sell headsets ,mikes, webcams and other accessories that are Skype certified. I bought USD $10 and it is a lot cheaper than any phone cards or special deals out there offered by the "regular" phone companies.
You might as well drag Skype's icon from your Applications folder into your dock. You'll be using it a lot after you've tried it.
Before you launch Skype, be sure your webcam is connected. After you log in with your unique username and password which you set up when you downloaded Skype, head over to the preferences. It's under the Skype Menu>Preferences or just use the keyboard shortcut "Cmd or Apple ,"
Select the video tab, 7th one from the left. If you don't see yourself, under "Camera" see if you can select your webcam. Also check the box "Enable Skype Video."
Next select the Audio pane, 4th from the left. Here you get to choose your input and output of your audio. If you are using Skype in a noisy environment, use headsets and choose the settings accordingly.
In my case, I am using the built-in speakers on my powerbook and the microphone that's built into the iSight webcam. The important point here is to select the correct input and output choices. Skype even has a call testing feature to help troubleshoot your connections and settings. Assuming all is well, next you have to add contacts.
You have 4 ways to add contacts. Enter the pertinent information in the top field if you know either
1) your contact's unique id or Skype Name
2) their full name
3) or their e-mail address.With this choice, you can also search Skype's directory.
4) if you plan on using Skype to call regular phones, land lines or mobile phones then proceed to the field below where you see the the telephone icon. From the drop down menu, select your country. You'll have this massive list of countries. It's a major pain if you're looking for the US because we're way....down there on the list. Trust me, this drop down menu is a necessity judging from how inadequate most people are when it comes to spelling country names.
Placing a call after you've added a contact is easy. Select a name, the name field will expand. Then click either to text message or to audio or video chat. When you receive a call, both users should verify that this is the right person you're calling before selecting the start video button. It again is not very obvious. It's a little button at the bottom .
To text message your contact person after you select their name from the list, (see screenshot below) click your mouse in the area below the line. When you get the flashing cursor, type away!
The one feature I find most useful about Skype and other IM (instant messaging) applications like Skype and iChat is how easy it makes file sharing.
Users can easily share large files without the constraints of email imposed by ISPs. And the beauty of it? It is cross platform, so it doesn't matter if your recipient is on another operating system, this will work.
Previously if I wanted to send someone a huge file like a high resolution photograph, I had to upload to my webserver and then create a link for that person to go to and download.
With Skype, all I do is find my intended recipient under my Contact list, select their name, then go to the menu bar then look under “Contacts” and choose “Send File.”
When you choose that you'll be able to navigate to the file you want to send.
Another useful feature I will probably try when I can round up 3 or more persons is the "Conference Call" feature.
To access that, with Skype launched under the menu "Call" use the pull down menu and choose "Start Conference Call"
You will see in that window that there is a limit of 9 persons for a conference call.
Rounding up more than 3 people at one time is tough enough, 9 is probably dicey unless it's a work situation. Still I would like to hear from anyone who has done so. Be good to know what they thought of the sound quality and if video is even supported for that.