Sending instant messages (Windows desktop)

Have real time instant message (IM) conversations with anyone on Skype, for free.




To send an instant message

Sending instant messages (IM) to your contacts is the easiest way to get in touch with your friends on Skype:


In Skype, 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.


Select the contact, group or conversation.

The Conversation window displayed after selecting the contact in the Contact tab.


In the main window, click inside the conversation box.


Type a message and select the Send button, or just press the Enter key on your keyboard.

The Send button selected in the IM window.

You can send IMs even when your contacts are offline The offline status icon. They will receive your instant messages as soon as you are both online on Skype.
You can also reach them immediately by sending SMS text messages or by calling their mobiles or landlines.

If someone IMs you

When someone IMs you, the notification window pops-up.

Notification window displayed

You can see that the Skype window on the taskbar flashes orange Skype window in the taskbar flashes orange and an orange badge appears on the Recent tab Orange badge with the number of IM received dispalyed on the Recent tab and in the system tray Orange badge notifying you of IM received displayed in the system tray.

To reply to an IM:


Click the Recent tab. You'll see a list of conversations, with unread messages displayed in bold.


Find the IM you want to read and select it.


To reply, in the main window, click inside the conversation box.


Type a message and click the blue Send message button, or just press the Enter key on your keyboard.

To change your IM settings

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.
  • How copied messages should appear when you paste them into 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 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.

Useful things you can do in an IM

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.

Share your screen

Share photos, documents and presentations by displaying your screen to the other person. Help with sharing your desktop.

Add people to this conversation

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

Use emoticons

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

The Emoticons panel

Get more help with instant messaging.

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