Skype and iChat Demo at Club Mac of Monterey
Hillary Bennett, March 13, 2009

Using Skype for Mac OS X

Why Skype?    Make calls from your computer – free to other people on Skype, cheap to phones and mobiles across the world. And the sound quality is great, too – keep it running all day, and it’s like you’re in the same room as the person on the other end.

Standard features    If you and your friends, family or business contacts are using webcams, you can also make free video calls. You can even call landlines and mobile phones at really cheap rates.
    • Make free Skype-to-Skype calls to anyone else, anywhere in the world.
    • Call ordinary phones and mobiles at pretty cheap rates per minute.
    • See who you are talking to with video calls.
    • Send SMS messages to friends on the move and set up call forwarding so they can contact you.
    • Group chat with up to 100 people or conference call with up to nine others.
    • Search the web with the Google Toolbar (optional install).

Leopard compatible     If you have the latest Mac OS X 10.5 then you can use Skype with confidence.

Skype calls to cell phones    Just as you can make free local and international Skype-to-Skype calls you can also make calls to phones and cell phones anywhere in the world at great low rates.

Getting started is simple        There are many ways Skype can help you connect.

Finding people     Adding friends and family to your contact list is simple – search, select, add.
Guide to adding contacts

Making a call is easy      Simply select the Call Phones tab, enter a number and hit the green button.
Guide to making calls

What else can you do?     Skype is jam-packed with great features to help you stay in touch with friends, family and co-workers, share your thoughts and views and find the information you need. You can use it on your computer and on both WiFi and cordless phones.
Just for starters you can instant message with anyone on your contact list or even use group chat to chat with up to a hundred people. You could hold a conference call with up to nine other people to organize a get-together.

Incidental suggestions for use:        Although you can use the built-in microphone and speakers to use Skype, you will find Skype sound will be more pleasing and efficient is you use earphones or a headset. Using the built-in speakers and microphone will often times cause feedback which at its best can be very annoying and at worst you will not be able to hear the other party. This is a device with both earphones and a microphone built in to the same device. A USB headset connects to your computer via the USB port OTHERWISE you need a special (powered) microphone.)

Skype Preferences        These are quite extensive. Be sure to look through them and set them according to your desires and needs before you try to use Skype. Sometimes it might be necessary to quit and restart Skype after changing Preferences for them to take effect.

Setting Sound Preferences     Be sure to set the sound preferences in your Finder > System and in Skype before you try using it. These settings will be different depending on the speakers and microphone (headset) you use. The *Sound* preferences are most likely the only ones you need to adjust in the System.

Online       You need to be *Online* before you begin using Skype.

Adding contacts       You will need to add your Skype contacts by clicking on the *+* (plus) sign on the lower left of the Skype contacts window.

Recording calls        It is possible to record calls made on Skype including the video using a piece of software from ecamm network called *Call Recorder*. It costs $14.95 and there is a free demo if you’d like to try it out.

Troubleshooting        Before I begin a call, I usually test my headset by using the *Skype Test Call*. It is a built-in option which will show up automatically in your Skype Contacts Window. This is a *Free* test call that will allow you to test your setup and equipment prior to making your actual call.


Using iChat

iChat is an application which has been included with Mac OS X since about 10.3. It seems to work best when used Mac to Mac. It may work better using either a .Mac account or an AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) account. It will work AIM to AIM or .Mac to AIM (or vice-versa).

Using AIM or AOL Instant Messenger
If you do NOT have a "mobileme" account (formerly .Mac ("dotmac") you will need an AIM account. This will require simply going to AOL and register.  You need to register a screen (user) name, password and Email address. Then use iChat software to make your calls.  There is also a free AIM download from AOL is:

Using "mobileme"
"mobileme" users can also access all of iChat’s features. A trial subscription is free. You can share photos and movies online, create a website or blog, sync bookmarks and contacts across multiple Macs, and more—absolutely free for 60 days. And when you become a full "mobileme" member you can keep the same member name, email address, and everything you've created, and your online storage limit automatically increases to the full 10 GB. To take advantage of personal domain name support, you must be a full member.

Trial members get full access to all of the great features of "mobileme", including Web Gallery, email plus webmail, and one-click web publishing from iWeb. Trial accounts receive 100 MB of email and file storage on iDisk, letting you back up as much as 100 MB of data.

To get a "" trial account go to

A full membership costs $99.95 from You can get the same membership from for $68.49 & it ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping at


iChatAV in Action

iChat Preferences      Begin by setting up your iChat account. Go to iChat preferences (under the word iChat in the Menu Bar at the top left of your screen. Click on *Accounts*. First choose the type account you have from the pull-down menu (AIM or .Mac) Fill in the *Description* which is the name you want others to see when you’re Online. Fill in the actual name you registered in the name blank. (it will depend on whether your account is AIM or .Mac), then supply your password.

The *Messages* preference controls the way YOUR screen will look when text messaging.

The *Alerts* preference controls the sounds you hear while using iChat. If you check *Speak text* you computer will read iChat messages to you. (This can be somewhat disconcerting if you are not expecting your computer to talk.)

The *Video* preference allows you to set your audio preferences (microphone and speakers). Video chats require a good Internet connection speed. Texting will work using a dial up account, but video is not recommended.

Back to the *Video* preferences. Set the *Bandwidth limit to 500 kbps or greater. (200 may work, don’t count on it.) I recommend you check *Play repeated ring…* so that you will get an audible as well as visual alert that someone is trying to contact you.


iChat works best Mac to Mac. That said, there can be occasional problems there too. The reasons for the problems can be quite illusive. My guess is that most often it is due to firewalls or other security software or the security built into routers and wireless devices.

The Apple discussions group is pretty good at helping overcome some of the more obvious problems. You’ll need to register in order to post a question, but you can *Search* the discussion forums free. The discussion group can be found at:

A short point by point diagnosis sheet can be found at: