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Sending and receiving instant messages in Skype for Mac

Have real time instant message (IM) conversations for free on Skype for Mac. It's a cinch to send and receive messages, and there are many other useful features to help you manage your conversations. 

Sending instant messages

It’s easy to send instant messages to your friends who are on Skype:


Sign in to Skype.


In the sidebar, click Contacts, and then to the right, click Skype or Messenger if you are signed in with a Microsoft account (or whatever group you have that contact saved to). You may need to click >> if you can’t see the correct group.

The Contacts tab selected in the sidebar and the Skype list selected in the contact list bar.


In your contact list, find the contact you want to send an instant message to and double-click their picture.

The profile picture of a contact that is to be sent an instant message.

The conversation window opens.

Recent conversations are stored in the sidebar, so you can easily pick up where you left off. Just click the conversation or contact in the sidebar to open the conversation window.  

A contact selected in the sidebar under Recent to open the conversation window.


In the main window, click inside the conversation box.


Enter your message and press the Return key on your keyboard.

A message entered in the conversation box.

If your contacts are offline The Offline status icon., your message might be delivered immediately if you're both on cloud-enabled devices. You can also send them SMS text messages or call them on their mobiles or landlines. All you need is a little Skype Credit or a subscription.

Invite anyone to your chat

We've launched a new way to invite anyone to your chat. You don't need to know their Skype name, and they don't even need to have a Skype account to enjoy free voice, video and instant message conversations with you. Learn more.

Receiving an instant message

When someone IMs you, the Skype icon in the dock bounces, and the conversation appears in the sidebar with a badge next to it. To read the message, go to the sidebar and click to open it.

A badge with the number of unread messages displayed next to a conversation in the sidebar.

You can also start a conversation right from the Skype dock icon - tap the Skype icon to reveal new commands including call phone numbers (you'll need some Skype credit or a subscription), and start a new conversation which opens a new conversation letting you invite people to chat via a conversation URL. Even add people who aren't on Skype!


Changing your instant message settings and notifications

You can change your IM privacy settings, hide typing indicators, change the way emoticons are displayed in your instant messages and set up notifications for individual conversations.

To change your IM privacy settings, typing indicators and the way emoticons are displayed:


Sign in to Skype.


From the menu bar, click Skype > Preferences, then select Privacy at the top.


In the Allow messages from drop-down list, select Anyone or Contacts.

The Contacts option selected from the Allow messages from drop-down list under Privacy settings.


Click Messaging at the top.


In the Emoticons drop-down list, select Standard, Animated or Don’t show.

The Standard option selected from the Emoticons drop-down list under Messaging settings.


Uncheck Show when I am typing or Show when Contacts are typing to hide the typing indicator, which appears in the top right of your screen.

To change notifications for individual conversations or contacts:

1 Sign in to Skype.

Open the instant message window for a contact or conversation. You can do this in the contact list or sidebar.


In the main menu, select Conversations > Notification Settings.


In the Notification Settings panel, select Notify me, Do not notify me, or Notify me only if these words are mentioned:. If you select the last option, enter keywords into the field.

The Notify me only if these words are mentioned option checked in the Notification Settings panel and the keywords entered in the field below the option.


To save your notification settings, click OK.


Useful things you can do in an instant message

Editing, removing, copying, and quoting a sent instant message

When you send an instant message, you have the option to edit or remove it – but only for 60 minutes after it is sent. You can also copy or quote any instant message or its part in a conversation.

To use these options: 

  1. In the conversation window, find the recent instant message you’d like to change and ctrl+click it or click the little down arrow on the right.
    If you want to quote the text, you can select either the whole instant message or just a part of it.
  2. Select the appropriate action from the menu that opens.

    The Copy, Quote Message, Quote Selection, Edit Message and Remove Message options selected from the drop-down menu.

The easiest way to edit the last IM you’ve sent is to press the up arrow key on your keyboard to bring up the edit message window. This is only available for a few minutes after sending the instant message. When you edit a message, the Edit message window will appear, as below.

Make your corrections in the box and click Save.

Also, with rich text you can now see emoticons in the text edit box. 

Sharing messages

  1. In the conversation window, find the recent instant message you’d like to share, and ctrl+click it or click the little down arrow on the right.
  2. Select Share, then click the option for where you want to share the message.

Add people

Add people to the instant message to create a group IM.

The list of options that appears after selecting the plus icon.

Send files, share documents, photos and video clips of any size. Learn more about sending files.

Use emoticons

Liven up your IMs with high definition emoticons and let your friends know how you’re feeling.

The list of emoticons displayed in the instant message conversation window.

Use special formatting

You can use basic text markup in chats to use special formatting:

  • Surrounding text with asterisks (*) will change the text to bold. (Example: *sample text*)
  • Surrounding text with underscores (_) will change the text to italics. (Example: _sample text_)
  • Surrounding text with tildes (~) will change the text to strikethrough (Example: ~sample text~)
  • Surrounding the text with {code} will change the text to monospace font (Example: {code}sample text{code})
  • Placing two exclamation points and a space  (!! ) at the beginning of a message will send the entire message in monospace font (Example: !! sample text)
  • Placing two at symbols and a space (@@ ) at the beginning of a message will prevent or override special formatting (Example: @@ sample text)

Enable the spell checker

You can use the spell checker when writing an IM. To turn this feature on, right-click in the conversation box, select Spelling and Grammar and click Check Spelling While Typing.

The options to be selected to turn the spell checker on.

To change the spell checker’s settings, select Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar.

Get directions

If you receive a location you can right click on the image, and then click Get Directions to open the Macs Maps app.

You can then use your current location or provide another address to the location image in the conversation window.

To send your location

  1. Open the media bar in the messaging input box. 
  2. Click the Pin icon to send your location to the conversation. 
    Map pin icon

    Once a location has been shared, click on the drop-down menu button to see a choice of options.

    Send location

Learn more about instant messaging.


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