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How to... use Skype or FaceTime

What are Skype and FaceTime?
Skype and FaceTime are programmes that you can have on your computer, tablet or phone and enable you to have a conversation with a contact face-to-face via video. This means you’ll both be able to see each others faces whilst having the equivalent of a phone call.  It is a great way to stay in contact with family or friends that you may not get to see too often.
How do they work?
Skype is a programme that can be downloaded on all brands of computer and phone, whereas FaceTime is an in-built programme that comes with all Apple products, such as iPhones and iPads. They both work in a similar way: you can only have a video-call with someone you have added as a contact and only if they are using the same programme as you. Skype works by adding contacts via a search function, where you can search for someone by their name, phone number, email address or Skype username. FaceTime works by connecting to the contacts you have saved in your phone, either using their email address or telephone number.
How to use them:
On Skype, once you have added the contact you’d like to chat with, you can select them and choose one of two options:
  • The telephone symbol will connect you like a normal call (but using Wi-Fi or network data instead of a phone line) 
  • The video camera symbol will connect you via a live video stream. 
 It will ring, like a phone, so that the other person can be notified that you are calling, and once they’ve picked up the call – by pressing the ‘answer’ button on screen, then you can chat as normal. To end the call, press the red ‘hang up’ button. FaceTime is similar, but you choose ‘video’ or ‘audio’ first, and then search for your contact. (‘Audio’ calls are a normal phone call without video.) FaceTime also uses telephone and video camera symbols and they have the same function as on Skype.
Some extra tips:
  • It is usually best to notify someone before you contact them, to make sure they are logged in to Skype or have the FaceTime application open.
  • The camera used for the video feed is the front camera on your phone or tablet, or the webcam on your computer. Make sure there is nothing obstructing the camera, such an iPad case, and that your webcam is plugged in if it is not already built-in.
  • For the best quality video when you are on a Skype or FaceTime call, make sure you are well lit and the light is on your face, rather than behind you such as from a window, as this will cause you to be silhouetted or cast your face in shadow.
  • If the other person is having trouble hearing you, make sure your microphone is turned on. Most, if not all, webcams have a microphone built in, and all phones and tablets, as well as all most computers have microphones built in for this kind of purpose.
  • If the microphone symbol has a line through it – this may mean your microphone is muted. Tap or click the microphone symbol to toggle it on or off. 
  • If you are having trouble hearing the other person, make sure your volume is turned up and your speakers or headphones are connected if you are using them. Click or tap the speaker symbol to toggle it on or off.  

For further information on how to Skype, see:

For further information on how to use FaceTime, see:


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