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How do I send an instant message in Skype for Windows Desktop?

Watch the video to see how you can send instant messages in just over a minute. A step-by-step guide is also available below.



We're rolling out an exciting new way to create and share conversations. Learn more.

To send an instant message:

  1. Start Skype.
  2. In the Contacts tab, find the person or group you want to IM. Or in the Recent tab, find the conversation you want to pick up again.
  3. Select the group, contact, or conversation.
  4. Click inside the conversation window at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Type your message and click the blue Send icon, or simply press Enter on your keyboard.

When someone sends you an instant message

When someone IMs you, the Skype icon on the taskbar will turn orange and let you know that you have a new instant message.

To reply to an IM:

  1. Click the Recent tab. You'll see a list of conversations, with unread messages displayed in bold.
  2. Find the IM you want to read and select it.
  3. To reply, in the main window, click inside the conversation box.
  4. Type your message and click the blue Send icon, or simply press Enter on your keyboard.


You can change your IM privacy settings, alter certain IM functions and customize the appearance of your instant messages.


In Skype, from the menu bar click Tools > Options.


Choose IM & SMS from the left and click the Show advanced options button to see all options.

IM settings window displayed


In the IM Settings panel, change your IM settings as required. You can choose:

  • Who you allow IMs from. Choose anyone or people in my Contact list only.
  • How long to keep your conversation history for: no history, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months or forever.
    You can also delete all of the instant messages in all of the conversations you’ve ever had with your contacts by clicking the Clear history button. Deleting the conversation history removes video messages. Once your conversation history is deleted, it cannot be recovered.
  • Whether IMs will open in a new window when you receive a new message in Compact View.
  • Whether pressing Enter inserts a line break, or sends an IM.
  • Whether or not to display the typing indicator.
  • Where to save received files.

To change the appearance of your instant messages, select IM appearance on the left.

IM appearance settings window displayed


You can customize:

  • Whether the chats are displayed in Compact Chat View
  • How copied messages and links should appear when you paste them into an IM
  • Whether to show static or animated emoticons.
  • Whether to show a timestamp next to messages you send and receive.
  • The font your IMs are displayed in.

Edit a sent message

You can edit or delete an instant message within 60 minutes after you’ve sent it. To change or remove your IM, simply right-click the message and choose Edit Message or Remove Message.

Edit Message option selected from the window displayed after right-clicking the message

Send files

Share documents, photos and video clips of any size. Help with sending files.

Send File… option selected from the menu displayed after clicking the + button

Send a video message

Record and send a video to your contact. Learn more.

Send contacts

Send a contact’s details to another contact. Help with sending contacts.

Use emoticons

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

The Emoticons panel

Use Skype Translator

Translate instant messages into over 50 languages. Learn more.

Use special text 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)

In the latest version of Skype, you can disable special text formatting, if you want. To do this:

  1. In Skype, click Tools, then Options.
  2. Click IM & SMS at the left side of the screen.
  3. Click IM appearance at the left side of the screen.
  4. Uncheck the box next to Show advanced text formatting to turn off special text formatting. To turn it back on, you can simply go back and check this box.

Here are a few pages that can help you do even more:



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