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Whether it’s at work or in the home, Skype has become a tool that many of us use on a daily basis. While there have certainly been some snafus along the way, the service today generally offers a convenient and reliable video calling experience for the bargain price of free.
However, the development of the core functionality of Skype has led to some unpopular changes to its user interface. For one, the fact that it’s offered as a free service has necessitated advertising to be used to turn a profit. Second, the very layout of the program has been drastically changed, perhaps as part of a larger effort by Microsoft to make Windows 10 a haven for hybrids.
The good news is that there are methods of customizing Skype that will make it ad-free and more space-efficient. Follow this guide, and you’ll cut down on much of the extraneous content filling up your display.
Blocking Skype Ads
Unfortunately, there’s no option to remove ads from Skype within the app itself. To reclaim that all-important screen real estate, we will have to prevent the software from making the necessary Internet connection to download the content. However, if executed correctly, this shouldn’t interfere with your ability to make calls using Skype.
Open up the Control Panel and navigate to Network and Internet > Internet Options. Move to the Security tab, click on Restricted Sites and open the Sites dialog with the button underneath.
Next you’ll need to add two websites to the list of restricted addresses: apps.skype.com and g.msn.com. Once that’s done, you can save your changes by clicking Apply and close the window with OK.
Remove the Ad Placeholder
Even though you’ve prevented the Skype application from pulling ads from the Internet, you may still find a placeholder section of its interface reserved for the content. To remedy that, you’ll need to dip into the software’s configuration files.
To access the configuration files, navigate to the primary hard drive on your computer in an Explorer window and go to Users > Your Username > AppData > Roaming > Skype. You’ll then need to open the folder that’s titled with your Skype ID and find an XML file called config. Right-click that file and choose to open it with Notepad.
Press Ctrl + F to use the Find function to search for AdvertPlaceholder. You should find a piece of code that reads <AdvertPlaceholder>1</AdvertPlaceholder> — change that 1 to a 0 and you will remove the placeholder from your Skype interface. Save the document and restart Skype for the changes to take effect.
Clear Up the Default Layout
Recent redesigns to the Skype UI, particularly the Windows version, have been widely criticized by users as a step backwards. Many would argue that the previous iteration made efficient usage of the program much easier, and unfortunately it’s not possible to revert to that version. However, there are a few layout options that you can tweak to make better use of the space available.
The first change to make is switching to a more condensed contact list by opening the View dropdown menu and selecting Compact Sidebar View. This removes much of the dead space taken up by your contacts, getting rid of their avatars and placing their names much closer together as a result. While the standard view seems to have been designed with hybrid devices in mind, the compact view makes more sense for usage with a more traditional PC.
If that doesn’t slim Skype down enough for your needs, it’s well worth trying out Split Window View. This separates the standard Skype home screen from your contacts list, treating the pair as two distinct windows. As a result, you can close the home screen and simply have a contact list window active. You can enable this option in the View menu.
As well as minimizing the contact list, other options can change the way that chat windows are presented to you. To access them, open up the Tools dropdown menu and select Options.
Open the IM & SMS section and click on IM Appearance, then tick the box that reads Compact Chat View. With this option enabled, your text chats will not display avatars, and text and other UI elements will be condensed down. As a result, you’ll be able to display more content in a smaller window, reserving more screen space for other applications running at the same time.
Ads No More
As Microsoft is embracing the Software as a Service model, they are increasingly integrating ads in their free products. Skype is no exception. Even Windows 10 has seen ad-like content.
Where else have you spotted annoying ads in software? Do you have a tip or a request for making the most out of the Skype UI or the program in general? Share your advice and questions with other users in the comments section below.