Fed Up With Skype? Here Are 6 Of The Best Free Alternatives

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skype alternativesFive years ago, if you would’ve asked me for recommendations on a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) program, there was only one program available: Skype. For the past few years, Skype sat at #1 in VoIP software. And if the Internet has taught me anything, it’s that nothing ever stays at the top for very long.

In 2011, Microsoft made a somewhat surprising move when it bought Skype for $8.5 billion. Soon after, bloggers all over the Internet began to question Microsoft’s ability to maintain the project’s quality. Was Skype now doomed to fail or would Microsoft improve it? What about the issue of privacy? Or advertisements during calls?

If for whatever reason you no longer want to use Skype, then rest assured in knowing that there are plenty of alternative programs out there. They may not be as polished or prevalent as Skype, but they certainly get the job done. And best of all, every program on this list is absolutely free!

Google

skype alternatives

It’s almost expected that Google would have some sort of competition in the area of VoIP and Internet chatting. But behold–Google actually has three different programs that you can use as alternatives to Skype. It all depends on what you were using Skype for.

If you need a quick and easy way to set up group video conferences, look no further than Google Hangouts. Not only are video chat sessions free, you can add up to 8 other participants for a total of 10. The calls are high quality and intuitively designed. Find out why Google Hangouts are cool than Skype for video chats.

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If you just need a service that lets you call other people over the Internet, then Google Voice is your solution. Assign yourself a Voice-provided phone number that you can use for everything no matter what your phone or service provider is. Through Google Voice, you can make free calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada; everywhere else has extremely low rates.

If it’s instant messaging that you need, use Google Talk. As a bonus, you can use Google Talk to initiate private video chat sessions; all you need to do is install a plugin. Google Talk interfaces with Gchat (on Gmail), iGoogle, and Orkut.

Jitsi

alternatives to skype

Jitsi is a powerful piece of software that specializes in VoIP. Not only can it perform audio calls and video chats, but it can also stream and share desktops over the Internet, record calls, encrypt calls, and instant message. It even has a few neat features like echo cancellation and noise suppression (for those with poor quality mics or noisy rooms).

Jitsi supports a wide number of Internet chatting protocols, including: SIP, XMPP (Jabber, Google Talk, Facebook), MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ, and Bonjour. Jitsi is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

VoxOx

alternatives to skype

With VoxOx, you can easily make audio or video calls to your friends. VoxOx-to-VoxOx calls are entirely free, so if your friends all use VoxOx, then you’ll all benefit. However, VoxOx can still be used to call real telephone numbers and send text messages at cheap rates.

On their overview page, it’s immediately apparent that VoxOx really likes their free features. Here’s what you get for free: personal phone number, voicemail, inbound calls/texts/faxes, conference calls, chat and social features, file sharing, and more. VoxOx is available on Windows and Mac.

goober

alternatives to skype

With goober, you can call your fellow goober buddies through audio or video calling. The VoIP feature is free if you’re calling another goober user, else it will cost low rates depending on the location of the receiver. Video calls are free but can only occur goober-to-goober. Conference calls are all free; audio conferences can hold an unlimited number of participants but video conferences are limited to 6.

From the looks of it, it seems like goober wants to be more of a social networking tool. The built-in instant messenger can communicate with AIM, MSN, ICQ, Jabber, Google Talk, Yahoo! and more. You can link and interact with Facebook and Twitter straight through goober, too. goober is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Ekiga

are there any alternatives to skype

Ekiga is an open-source program that specializes in VoIP, video calling, and instant messaging. Right out of the box, it supports high quality audio and high-definition video at DVD quality. The user interface is easy to learn and simple to use. Audio and video calls are free over the Internet; calls to phones will cost low rates.

Ekiga is available for Windows and Linux.

ooVoo

skype alternatives

If you really only use Skype for its video chatting features, then ooVoo may be the replacement for you. Video calls are extremely simple to set up and conferences can hold up to 12 participants. For the times you don’t need video, you can instant message. ooVoo supports calling to phones but you’ll need to purchase ooVoo credits first.

ooVoo has a Premium upgrade available that enables desktop sharing between users in a call and removes advertisements. Yes, ooVoo’s free version is supported by ads. ooVoo is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Facebook.

Conclusion

Skype was once the top dog in the world of free video conferencing and VoIP, but that throne has a lot of contesting kings now. It doesn’t matter where you live or what operating system you use, there is always a Skype alternative available. It’s not like Skype is completely off the table right now, but if it doesn’t please you anymore, these will get the job done.

Are there any that I’ve missed? Free video conferencing / VoIP tools are hard to come by, so if you know of any others, please share them in the comments. Or just let us know your experiences with the ones already on this list!

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45 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Johnny5

Not sure how you missed Tango and Talkatone.

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Johnny5

How did you miss Tango and Talkatone?

Joel Lee

There was a brief moment while writing this article that I lost my omniscience. Fortunately, it’s returned since then.

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Gerhard Tinned

The problem with all of them … you have to get your friends to use it as well. That is the real tricky part on it! :-(

Paul-G

If you use a land-line or mobile you can call ANY other land-line or mobile.

Until VOIP can do the same it will never get the take-up.

Tanguy Djokovic

VOIP lets you call areound the world for free… which land line does not…
Some might, but I’ve rarely seen a landline company say : call to china for free. it’s more like 30c/min of calling

Plus with Skype you can also call a land line, with for a very low fee, and even cellphones.

Paul-G

I agree but how many VOIP services can call every other VOIP service?

That is the issue that needs to be addressed. Without that key component it is like every land-line company and mobile service in the world being isolated.

Johnny5

Using Talkatone, you can call any phone number in the US and Canada….for free. If you are not in the US or Canada…oh well.

Paul-G

Sorry Johnny5 but a lot of VOIP services can ‘call out’ to landlines.

The key issue is – how many VOIP clients can call a VOIP user on another network? Can any of the above services call a user on a different VOIP service? How many can connect to ALL of the others?

Joseph

Paul-G, if you embrace open standards (in this case, like SIP or XMPP/Jabber) then any software that can use that protocol can call any other program. It’s Skype that has the proprietary protocol, which is the main reason not to use it.

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Chinmay Deshpande

Hangouts is great

gattolino

and you can register directally to youtube!

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Kao Vang

I don’t have enough friends who would use Google services enough to use Hangouts. :) My in-law families like using ooVoo but personally, I wouldn’t bother installing an app if there are web alternatives like Google’s.

Happy

I totally agree!

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Shakirah Faleh Lai

Love Hangout but most of my friends still use Skype they don’t use Hangout yet.

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Greg

We use ooVoo at work. It has worked great for us so far.

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ReĂ˝ Aetar

nimbuzz also is great

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Bud

Another is the Chinese “QQ.” Only major problem is their site is ALL in Chinese with little to zero English versions or English “help” pages……and depending on the signal strengths, can be disruptive at times……..

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GrrGrrr

Skype has its roots way deep, so it is almost impossible to replace it from #1 slot. The next best are Google & ooVoo in my view.

Given the availability of Skype Phones (parents have one) it becomes very easy for me to call them, without them having to bring up the laptop, connect a headset, mic, etc.

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dwayne arthur

Skype is pretty good ,I used it to replace my mom”s Magicjack that failed .
Its pretty reliable too. I will try out these other programs that were mentioned.

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Steve_007

i personally support Brosix. It is great alternative to Skype. It is ad-free, free of charge and has much more pre-installed features than Skype. It does a great job !

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Gaurav Rajak

Fring too is good for mobile phones.

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Neil Harrington

Skype stills works great for me, and it is still free. Screen sharing is great, too.

GoLinuxOrGoHome

doh! how’s that screen sharing working out for ya now? M$ took it out as well a group calling and made it a pay feature…woohoo

Pieter

I’m using screen share as we speak… still free, not a paid feature.

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Curtis C.

Dell Voice is also one of them that you can use for free calling on your iPhone or iPod.

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Freecycle Me

Thanks for this I will be conferencing on hangouts later!

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Kathie Brune

I’m going to have to check out Google Hangouts as I haven’t tried it yet. Tango is pretty good, too, though.

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AP

Most of my friends are Skype users , now I can recommend them other ones.

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Ian-Andrews

To Skype Or Not To Skype….

I’m Skype and I totally agree Skype used to have the un challenged guaranted number one slot…..HOWEVER……What has made me start to look for alternatives is its RECENT…???(2012 Anyways) STUPID CHANGE, whereby BOTH parties have to be connect at the same time to send/recieve a skype “Computer” text message.

In the good old days you could send your message to your contact…

EXAMPLE……….[ Sunday Fancy A Chat At 2pm ]
EXAMPLE 2…….[ You say have a look at this link www>>Hyperlink Example ]

The message would wait/stored until your contact next logged-on and then they would recieve it…BUT NOW you both have to be connected at the same time just to recieve OR send said message….Grrrrrr Grrrrr ^@@@%%^ <@

And yes I know E-Mail exists but the Skype feature WAS quick, very quick and very good for "your" offline message delivery.

My problem now is even if I do find something better than Skype, as Paul-G points out above.. I have to convince my contacts to also install that particular VOIP service.

If you want to reply to my comment, imagine if you could only do so when we are both online AND connected to http://www.makeuseof.com at the same time….lol

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Tim Brookes

Hangouts here is probably the best of the bunch in terms of penetration. As others have pointed out my reliance on Skype is down to a few things, but mainly the fact that everyone already uses Skype. My parents know how to use it, it’s great for talking internationally for free and the iPhone app works like a charm.

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Rajaa Chowdhury

I would rather TANGO and give SKYPE a skip. :P :D

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Travis

While I do primarily use SKype for it’s HD quality (better than most alternatives), one other that I’ve found is Zoom.us. The great part about that is while you have to download the software, you DON’T have to log in to join a call. So the person initiating the call signs in (via Facebook/G+) and gets a link to send out to other people wanting to join. So far it’s worked well for technically inept people like my parents/sister who aren’t ready to sign up for a new service like G+ just to enjoy group video chat. Just a thought.

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Raghav Gupta

Nice alternativees. Thanks for sharing

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ampimari

back to refer a comment of Paul -G
I think what he meant and with a good point is
that if i like to choose to use as provider lets say still government controlled now Skype or google hang out etc.
but my friend uses lets say maybe Tango or any other open- source Voip provider
I could not put them in my contact friends list and connect with them over voip

This only landlines can do and you might be…maybe as well more protected from someone
listening in and violating your privacy.

it would be great if I could have my FREE choice of voip provider
without pressing my friends to change as well!!!
and see them in my contact list attached to the icon of THEIR FREE CHOSEN voip provider…

Another sign that a FREE MARKET and FREE CHOICE is going down the hill
nicely covered by entertainment chit chats etc

Cool would be if all the open-source Voip Providers agree with each other
setting up this possibility of INTEGRATION and COLLABORATION in between them as well
and want to continue a FREE MARKET leaving their customers truly a FREE CHOICE.

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Michael Nana

Reflap is another alternative. It’s a web based voip video chat website. When ou register you create your personal call address and anyone that knows it can call you using your call address. http://www.reflap.com

Joel Lee

That’s a pretty cool concept. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. :D

Bob Swan

I like the idea but just played the first vid in their FAQ section … have to say, sadly, that the sound and picture quality were poor. Is that meant to encourage us?

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Danny

I am becoming disenchanted with Skype. I had subscribed ton them primarily for business calls and I have found that they do not not put through a lot of the 1-8xx-xxx-xxxx toll free numbers in Canada or The USA. What are the experiences of toll free numbers with the Skype alternatives,

Danny

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anonymous

hats off to that person who has made this website. it might have taken lots of pain in researching to make this website. but beware microsoft is watching. first it will disable your website, then ruin your business. have you guys seen one thing? when you do google search like forum skype you get only results of skype forums on the top and you cannot put your views in other places and after seeing the first page people run away. because by that time either they forget what they came for and could not find what they wanted. So this is skype. And when you start using skype they disable your account under some reasons. whatever it is keep your good work.

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Paul Rhimes

Have you tried LINE?

It’s the only one I know of that has at least most of the features of Skype and is also available on Windows 8. It doesn’t have video chat, but it has calling, messaging and all of that stuff…

http://www.trutower.com/line/

Tom

I am looking for an extremely cheap way, hopefully less than $0.01 US per minute to make a conference call to (primitive) cellphones in Thailand. I can use my computer or my primitive cell phone.

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Paul

I’m told there is a new one called Wire. I haven’t tried it yet.
I haven’t uninstalled Skype yet but I stopped using it because the new versions didn’t work at all on my computer (Mac) and the old version I went back and installed has stopped working now as well. I actually came online tonight looking for whether there is a decent mac-friendly version again yet, but instead I find all these alternatives to try out.
Thanks everyone! :)

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megan

Help please. So Skype let’s u buy a land line number that’s then connected to your app on your phone. So I give that number to my friend and they call it and it comes through on the app over the internet. Who else does this? The connection is crap cuts in an out a fuzzy. I really need another option. For Samsung galaxy 4

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Barry

message to

the

A message to Skype people.
Every time you make an upgrade you make it worse no better why can’t you get the basic’s right and leave it alone, other wise your system would be wonderful also I find you are hard to get in contact with to explain my concern when I have any. Like when my computer crashed and I try to pick up where I left off Skype did not seem to understand or acknowledge my contact details that I had used earlier and responded that this information was already used by someone else and I couldn’t have it. I am sure that this was mine from earlier. I find this very frustrating and confusing.

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