How To Make Video Calls – The Complete Guide

Being isolated from friends and family is difficult at any time, but even more so during the current Covid-19 outbreak. If you are looking at ways to keep in better contact with your loved ones, video calling is perfect! It not only lets you see and speak to people outside of the home, but also feels more like actual contact than a simple phone call or text message.

Video Calling Requirements

Before you can begin making video calls, you will obviously need to be using a device with a camera. Most laptops have a camera built into the lid above the screen, or you can buy a USB webcam very cheaply online or in PC stores. An easier alternative for many is to use a smartphone or tablet, as they will all have a front camera, which are often better quality than built-in laptop cameras.

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Video Calling with Skype

Skype is videocalling and messaging software from Microsoft, and is available for PC, Mac, Linux and for both iPhone and Android. If you are using Windows 10, you will already have Skype available on your computer (unless you have uninstalled it in the past). PC, Mac and Linux users can download the latest version of Skype from Android and Apple users can download the Skype app from the respective app stores.

The great thing about Skype is that you can call between phone and computer, so if someone only has a laptop, they can still video call someone who has the app on their phone.

Skype on Desktop (Windows, Mac)

Once Skype is installed, you will need to create an account. If you are using Skype on Windows 10, you can sign in using your Microsoft account. After signing in, you will see a fairly simply interface, with a main window and a sidebar. Before you can make a video call, you will need to add your contacts’ details.

Click the Contacts tab in the sidebar, and then click New Contact. You can use the search field to search for people on Skype by name, email address, phone number or Skype name (if you know it). When you see the correct contact in the results list, click on them to add them to your contacts. Repeat this for any contacts you want to add.

skype video call

Now click on the Calls tab in the sidebar, click New Call, and then select the contact you want to call. Click the Call button to begin. You can also open a Dial pad and type in a phone number to call. Skype will then try to connect the call with that contact (you will hear a ringtone and see the contacts’ profile picture on screen).

The person you are calling will hear a ringing notification to let them know there is a call incoming, as will you if someone is calling you using Skype. To answer a Skype call, you simply click the green button in the middle of the Skype call screen.

Skype also allows you to do group video calls, using the Meet Now feature. This works in similar way as starting a normal video call, but you can add multiple contacts at the same time. Invited contacts can join or leave a Meet Now call at any time in its duration.

Skype on Mobile (Android, iOS)

After installing the Skype app from the Google Play or Apple App Store, open it and create an account/sign in. Again, the first thing you will need to do is add contacts by allowing the app access to your contacts list. You will also be asked to allow Skype to record audio and take pictures and record video. You need to allow these to use the video calling option.

You can now begin adding contacts to Skype. Tap the search icon and search by name, Skype name, phone number or email address. As you find contacts, tap their name to add them to the app contact list. If you want to invite people to begin using Skype, tap the Contacts tab, then show All and tap the invite button next to the contacts you want to invite. They will receive a message telling them about the invite and how to install the Skype app.

To begin a video call, tap the Calls tab at the bottom of the screen, then tap the video icon next to the contact you want to connect with. If your call fails because there was no answer, the option to send the contact a message will pop up on screen.

How to Record a Call in Skype

Want to record your daughter’s face when you give her the big news? What about capturing your online book group’s deep discussions? In Skype you have the ability to record your Skype to Skype calls directly in the app.

During your Skype to Skype call, tap or click the more menu (three dots icon) during a call for more options.To record your call on mobile, tap Start recording. A banner will appear in your call letting everyone know you’ve started recording.

After the call, the recording will be posted to your chat and will be available for 30 days. You can download and save the recording locally at any time during the 30 days.

Video Calls with WhatsApp

One of the many great benefits to using WhatsApp is that you can make both voice and video calls without using up your phone’s minutes. Naturally, it uses your data but if you’re connected to Wi-Fi then you can chat for free. WhatsApp is available to download for both Android and iPhone and is completely cross-compatible (so you can use WhatsApp on a Android phone to video call someone with an iPhone).

Once the app is installed and set up, you can make a voice or video call in one of three ways. You can tap the contact’s profile image and choose the phone icon for voice or camcorder icon for video. Alternatively, tap on the Calls feature and select the contact you want to call; or you can open an existing chat and select the call or video options from the top of the screen.

video call whatsapp

Depending on which method you use, you can start the call to the selected contact. There are numerous options available while you’re waiting for the call to connect (the contact needs to confirm the call). You can opt for speaker, increase or decrease the volume, hang up before the connection or switch to a chat session instead.

The contact you’re calling receives an incoming call notification in WhatsApp. This allows them to either swipe to the right to accept the call or to the left to ignore. They can also open a chat session instead.

For a video call you can see the caller as well as your own video feed as a smaller image in the corner. To hang up the call, or video, simply tap the red phone icon and the call is cut. Note, you can also switch device cameras from the options available in the video window.

Video Calling with FaceTime

Your iPhone’s FaceTime app can make audio and video calls, as long as they’re to another Apple device. This can be an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or even Apple Watch (audio only); as FaceTime calls are made over the Internet, they’re free. You can even make group calls, with several people appearing on screen at once for a party chat.

facetime video call

Press the FaceTime camera at the top of a contact card to for a video call, or select the FaceTime phone icon further down for an audio only FaceTime call. In the FaceTime app, previous calls are listed; tap one to repeat the call.

In video chats, you’re in the small window, while your contact is in the main screen. Tap the screen to get the controls. To switch between the front and rear cameras, tap the Camera icon. Tap the big red button to end the video call.

Tap the screen to show the controls, and swipe it up, using the handle at the top, to see the full range of options. You can mute the mic, turn off the camera, send a message, switch between the front and rear camera, and more.

Group FaceTime Calls

Group FaceTime calls were introduced with the iOS 12.1 update and to Mac’s Mojave with macOS 10.14.1. Obviously, you can also use it in iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina.

Start a FaceTime call and tap the screen for controls. Lift it up using the handle at the top of the window. (Incidentally, the white Camera button takes a live photo during a video call.) To add another person to your FaceTime chat, tap Add Person and then enter their details. Tap their name as soon as it appears, then tap the green Add Person to FaceTime button.

Up to 32 people can join a Group FaceTime chat. To leave, tap the screen to raise the icons as before and then tap the red button to end the call. The rest of the group is unaffected. As long as you’ve updated to the operating systems covered above, you can mix Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPod touches in Group FaceTime chats. They will all work fine.

You can even Group FaceTime from an Apple Watch or a HomePod speaker, though as these devices don’t have built-in cameras, you are limited to audio chat only.

Video Calling in Messenger

Messenger, the Facebook chat tool, has reportedly seen a huge increse in use over the last few weeks. Here’s how to use Messenger for video calls.

Messenger on iOS or Android

You can video chat with just one person, or with a group of people. Keep in mind, placing calls through the Messenger app for iPhone, iPad or Android may use your existing data plan.

Open Messenger by tapping the Messenger app icon or by opening Facebook and then tapping the Chat icon at the top. Tap the name of the person you want to call to open an existing conversation window, or search for the contact using the search field at the top of the contacts list.

Now simply tap the video camera icon at the top of the conversation screen to start the video call.

If you have a group chat set up, you can open that and start a video call with anyone in the group by tapping the video camera icon.

Messenger in Windows

Open facebook in your browser and click on the Messenger icon at the top. Click on an existing conversation or search for a contact to call, then open the conversation.

In the popup conversation window, click the video camera icon (this will only be available to click if you have a camera set up in Windows).

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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