A lot of people like Chromebook. A lot of people love Skype. For those of you out there who have been told Skype can’t be used on Chromebook, I’m going to show you it can be done!
What You Need To Set Up Skype Online
Do you have a Microsoft account? If you’ve used Skype before, or a variety of other Microsoft products, the answer is yes. Moving on.
Do you have access to the Internet? I’m going to assume if you’re reading this, the answer is yes. That’s all you need to start chatting with your friends on Skype. On a side note, you don’t need a Chromebook for this method to work – you can access Skype in other browsers too.
Introducing your Skype-on-a-Chromebook interface, http://people.live.com, homepage shown below.
I know – it doesn’t look like much, and it doesn’t give you a clue about its services, but just keep going. Simply log in with your Microsoft account, and you’ll be looking at a screen something like this:
In the upper-right corner of the screen you’ll see your name, and a chat icon you can toggle on and off, which will reveal the Connect to Skype sidebar.
Click on the large Skype logo and a window will appear inviting you to merge your Skype and Microsoft accounts together (if they aren’t already). Proceed according to the instructions.
The Skype Interface
From here, you can access your Skype contacts for instant messaging. Personally, I like to separate this tab from my other Chrome tabs and shrink it to just the contacts list, and leave it on the right-side of my Chromebook screen, as though it was a separate app.
You’ll see your Recent Contacts at the top of the Contacts list, then your Favourite Contacts, and finally, the complete list. If someone messages you while you’re not looking at a conversation with that person, their most recent message will fly-in from the right and hover over the contacts list to notify you.
To engage in a group conversation, all you have to do is start a conversation with one person, and then click the plus (+) button to add more people.
Changing the Colour
The online Skype experience takes a leaf out of Windows 8’s design with flat squares in bright colours. In Live People, chat messages will be in orange bubbles.
If you aren’t a fan of the colour, you can switch to Outlook.com to see the chat bubbles in blue, or one of the other Microsoft online services (you’re able to access them all by clicking on the little arrow in the upper-left corner of the screen by the title “People”).
See Multiple Conversations at Once
One small drawback in this service is there’s no obvious way to see multiple conversations at once. However, there’s an easy workaround for that.
To see more than one conversation at once, bring up the context menu (right click) on the Live People tab holding your Skype conversation, and click ‘Duplicate’. Voila, now you have two ‘Skype windows’! That way, you can have one conversation with one person in one Chrome tab, and a different conversation in a different tab, and you can have them on-screen at the same time.
Video Calling Workaround
If someone tries to call or video-call you, you will hear the ring and get a notification, but on a Chromebook you won’t be able to install the plugin for the Skype Web Experience. That plugin is for Windows or Mac only (the .msi file is a Windows-only install file), so it won’t download or install on a Chromebook. So, when you get a video call, I recommend sending the caller an instant message back to say that you can’t take calls on Skype at the moment, and suggest an alternative video-chatting service.
There are lots of good things to be said for Google Hangouts, so if you need video conferencing, give it a try. If Google Hangouts isn’t for you, there are numerous other video-calling options you can use to enjoy face-to-face contact when you can’t meet people in person.
Appear.in is an excellent, free HTML5 video conferencing service we reviewed before.
Alternatively, you may find IMO to be the perfect video, audio, and IM chat service for your needs, even though they dropped support for third-party services in March 2014.
If you really must have Skype video calls on your Chromebook, it’s possible to do so by installing Linux on your Chromebook and using Skype under Linux.
Why is Skype a Must-Have?
What’s the key thing about Skype that keeps you coming back, that no other service can compete with? (Or maybe one of these six free Skype alternatives actually can compete.) Is it just that all your contacts are there and you don’t want to have to migrate to a new service, or do you rely on Skype for video conferencing?
Is this method ‘enough Skype’ to make a Chromebook worth your while?