How To Use The Skype For Windows Desktop App

With the upcoming release of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced that it will be abandoning the development of the modern app version of Skype. The general idea is the attempt to simplify user experience with the help of a unified VoIP application that works both on touch based devices and regular mouse and keyboard ones. It has also been stated that, after July 7, all users who will try to open the touch app on Windows 8 or 8.1 will be asked to switch to the desktop version. Therefore, in order to help you easily migrate between the two applications, we have decided to create a series of articles that will show you how to easily use the Skype for desktop app. In this tutorial, we will try to help you understand the main user interface elements of the desktop version so that you can continue to stay in touch with your friends, family and co-workers without any kind of problems.

NOTE: You can use Skype for desktop if you are logged in Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 with your Microsoft account or with your regular Skype account. If you would like to learn more about Microsoft accounts, read this guide: Simple Questions: What is a Windows Live ID or a Microsoft account?.

How To Download And Install The Skype For Windows Desktop App

Both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users have to open their favorite web browser and navigate to the Skype official download page. On this web page, press the big green button that says Get Skype for Windows desktop.

After the download process has ended, run the installer. Tweak your Skype installation so that the wizard installs only the features you want. This means choosing your language, if you want Skype Click to call or if want to make Bing your default search engine and MSN your homepage.

Finally, you will get to the Sign In screen, where you will be able to login either with your Skype account or your Microsoft account. During login, you might receive a Windows Firewall blocking notice. You should choose to allow Internet access for Skype.

After you sign in to Skype, a small window will open and ask you if you want Skype for desktop to become the default app for making calls. You should definitely click or tap Yes.

Finally, Skype will show you the sound and camera settings window. Check to make sure everything is OK and then choose your profile picture. And that is all…

How To Start The Skype For Windows Desktop App

In Windows 8.1, if you are on the Desktop, bring up the charms and click or tap on Search. Enter the word "Skype" and then click or tap the appropriate search result, meaning Skype for desktop.

If you are on the Start screen, in Windows 8.1, click or tap the Skype for desktop tile.

Alternatively, you can also open the Apps view and look for the Skype for desktop shortcut. Browse through the Apps view until you see the Skype for desktop shortcut (as shown in the screenshot below), and then click or tap on it. Also, remember that every time you start the Skype for desktop app, Windows 8.1 will immediately switch to the Desktop.

In Windows 10, you just have to type the word "Skype" in the Cortana Search Bar on the taskbar and then click or tap on Skype for desktop.

You can also search for the Skype for desktop app in Windows 10 by giving a vocal command to Cortana. If you have a microphone enabled on your computer, click or tap in the Cortana Search box, select the microphone icon and tell Cortana to "launch Skype". Alternatively, for an easier access you can simply use the Windows + Q key combination on your keyboard. This action allows you to speak directly to Cortana. Then, ask her to "launch Skype".

Also, you can open the Start Menu and click or tap on the Skype for desktop tile.

Alternatively, in Windows 10, you can go to the Start Menu, click on All apps and then find the Skype for desktop app in the alphabetized list.

How To Use The Skype For Windows Desktop App

When you open the Skype for desktop app, you will see something similar to the screenshot below. It features a refreshed user interface with a lot of new features and improvements. Skype has readjusted the layout of the UI, especially between contacts and conversations, and that gives this app a well-balanced and efficient interface.

The user interface of Skype for desktop features a sidebar on the left area of the window. This area encapsulates all the commonly used Skype features: Status Bar, Search Bar, Skype Toolbar, Contacts List and Recent (conversations) list.

Let's see what all these features are about. The lower area of the sidebar contains two different tabs that are the basis of your conversations. The first one is the Contacts List. Here you can see all the people you are in contact with and their status. If you tap or click on a contact, you can begin chatting with that person, if they agree to answer your call.

As you can see, at the top right of the contact list, you have three options for organizing:

  • All - this option shows a list with all your contacts, regardless if they are online or offline.
  • Skype - by using this particular filter, you will be able to display only Skype bound contacts. This is particularly useful if you add, for example, your Facebook contacts and you want to differentiate between them.
  • Online - you will see a list with the persons that are currently online on Skype.

Also, you have the opportunity to add certain people to your Favorites list. This action will display these contacts at the top of your contacts list, making it a lot easier for you to contact them. If you do not have any contacts that are marked as Favorites, this column will not be shown.

To add a contact to the Favorites list, you need to right-click on the contact you want to add and then select Add to Favorites.

Finally, the second of the two tabs is the Recent list. Here you can see where the latest messages in your conversations came from. Obviously, this column will be empty until you start chatting with others.

How To Manage Contacts And Make Calls In Skype For Windows Desktop App

Before we can talk about adding contacts, we have to explain how you can use the Search box. Inside the Search box enter the name, Skype ID, Microsoft account or e-mail address of the contact you want to find. At first, the Skype for desktop app will search through the people in your list. So, if they are part of your Contacts list, then your conversation history with that person will be displayed.

If you want to find a person that is not part of your contact list, you'll have to type his/her email address or Skype Name into the Search box and then click or tap on the Search Skype button. This action involves an advanced search that will show all the results that match the text in the Search box, from Skype's database.

If you want to add a new contact, first search for that person, and then click or tap on their profile. This action will open a conversation window with that person. In the right sided column, press the Add to Contacts button.

Skype will send them a contact request that will enable you to call, video call or instant message that person.

Beneath the Search box, inside the Skype Toolbar, you will be able to access the call mobiles and landlines function. If you have Skype Credit, you can call whoever you want on their phone, straight from the Skype for desktop app. To do this, click on the Call phones icon and then enter the name or phone number of the person you want to reach. Finally you have to simply click or tap on the Call button.


With the upcoming demise of the Skype for Modern UI app, all of us will be pushed towards using the desktop version of this VoIP app and will have to re-accommodate ourselves with the desktop Skype user interface. We must say that it is quite easy to use and this tutorial should help you make a smooth migration between the two versions. Before you leave this page, tell us if you have already used it and what do you think about it. Are there any features that are missing and you would like them to appear in a future version of this app?