Updated by Ben Stegner on 02 July 2017.
Most of the time, Skype just works. But sometimes, you’ll run into a snag and find that some aspect of Skype isn’t working right. These six troubleshooting steps will solve most common Skype problems, whether your microphone isn’t working or the other person sounds like a robot.
Problems with Skype may not even be on your end. Sometimes, the Skype infrastructure may be experiencing problems or your conversation partner may have their system configured incorrectly.
If you’re still experiencing problems after following these steps, be sure to ask the person you’re contacting to try them too — the problem could be on their end.
1. Check Skype Heartbeat
Before you do any troubleshooting, you should check if Skype itself is having issues. If you can’t connect or use a specific Skype feature, check the Skype Heartbeat page. You can access this by clicking the Help menu in Skype and selecting Heartbeat (Skype Status). Or, visit the Heartbeat page directly in your browser.
The heartbeat page informs you of Skype’s system status. If there are any problems with Skype’s infrastructure, you’ll see them here. You can’t do anything about these issues — wait for Skype to fix them and try connecting later.
2. Review Audio Settings
You can test your microphone and speakers from the Audio Settings panel. Open the Options window in Skype by clicking Tools > Options.
To test your microphone, speak into it — you should see the green volume bar under Microphone move as you speak.
If you don’t see the volume bar move, click the drop-down box next to Microphone and select another microphone device. Keep trying different devices until you see the volume slider move when you talk. If you have no working mic, try using your smartphone as a makeshift solution.
Test your speakers in the same way by clicking the Play button to the right of the Speakers box. You should hear the Skype call sound. If you don’t, select a different device from the Speakers drop-down box and try again.
3. Confirm Audio Hardware
If playing with the options on the Audio Settings panel doesn’t help, examine your hardware itself. Some microphones and headsets have volume sliders or mute switches on their cords. Thus, you could have accidentally moved the slider or flipped the switch.
Also, check to make sure that your microphone and speakers are plugged into the correct ports. You can plug USB microphones into any USB slot, while analog microphones must connect to the correct sound jack.
The microphone jack is usually the pink one, although different audio hardware may sometimes use different colors.
If you’re using a desktop computer and the microphone doesn’t work when it’s plugged into the sound jack at the front of the PC, try the sound jack at the back of the computer.
4. Edit Video Settings
Assuming you have a webcam, you can configure it from the Video settings pane in Skype’s Options window. If your webcam is connected and you don’t see it in this window, you may need to install drivers for it.
You can usually grab drivers from your webcam or computer manufacturer’s website.
Check out our guide to troubleshooting Skype webcam problems for more information.
5. Make a Test Call
If everything above works properly, try a test call. One way you can perform this is by clicking the Make a free test call link at the bottom of the Audio settings window. You can also add the Skype user named echo123 — named Echo / Sound Test Service — to your contacts list and call it as a test.
The call testing service will ask you to speak into your microphone after a beep. It records your call and, after a few seconds, plays your message back to you. This ensures that everything is working properly — your microphone, speakers, and the network connection. If the call worked properly, you should be good to go. At this point, if you can’t hear another person on Skype, it’s probably a problem on their end.
6. Double-Check Bandwidth Usage
If you — or anyone else on your network (including Windows 10) — are overloading your network bandwidth with intensive tasks like downloading files over BitTorrent, you’ll experience poor call quality. One of the obvious signs of network congestion is robotic-sounding voices. Skype will usually display a red connection icon when this is happening.
Close any file-downloading programs — both on your computer and on other computers on the network — and try placing the Skype call again. If you’re on a Wi-Fi network, try moving closer to your router to improve your connection.
Calls Sounding Better?
Using this quick checklist, you can eliminate common Skype problems and make your calls sound great. Most of the time, what seems like a huge problem is a pretty simple fix. Remember that for Skype group calls, one user experiencing any of these problems could affect the quality for everyone. Also, you can always get more troubleshooting tips from the call quality guide integrated into Skype. Click the Help menu and select Call Quality Guide to open it.
What Skype problems have you run into recently? Do you often perform other troubleshooting not mentioned here? Leave your tips and thoughts in the comments below!
Image Credits: Grublee, Tomas Jasinskis, RossHelen via Shutterstock