Skype Chat Power Tips

| How-To

We use Skype a lot here at TMO. For all the criticisms that the application has received recently (especially over the latest Mac versions), it remains an extremely powerful and useful piece of software with tons of features hidden “under the hood.”  We thought it would be fun to share with you some of our favorite Skype “Power Tips.” 

Edit Sent Messages with Find & Replace

Have you already sent a text message using Skype but now notice a typo?  Change it before the other party notices by using the following command, entered directly into the chat entry dialog box: 


For example, if I were to type “TMO is the best webite,” I could correct the typo by entering “s/webite/website/”  This corrects the typo immediately in the chat history.  Act quickly enough and you’ll never have to worry about misspelled words again!

Tell the Group What You’re Up To

You can use Skype’s update framework to present a stylized entry for what you’re doing.  This can be helpful in Skype Group chats or when you want to alert someone else to what you’re up to.  Enter the following command in the text entry dialog:

/me [what you’re doing]

For example, if I typed “/me is writing an article on Skype tips & tricks,” it would appear in the chat history like this:

Skype Insert Emoticons with Text

Skype has a great set of built-in emoticons available from a pop-up menu in the text entry box.  You can click on any one of them to add it to your message, but if you hover your mouse over the icons you’ll notice a word in parentheses in the lower right corner.  Type that word (including parentheses) into your chat and it will automatically insert the corresponding emoticon.  This can be helpful for those fast typists out there who don’t want to take their hands off the keyboard to insert emoticons. 

But wait! There’s more!  Skype has “hidden” emoticons that aren’t listed in the pop-up menu.  Try typing one of the following and see what you get: (rock), (smoke), (finger), (drunk), (headbang), (tmi), (swear).


enter alt text
Skype has some secret emoticons, too.

Edit Your Last Message

Taking Tip #1 a bit further, this allows you to completely edit the contents of your last message.  Press Command-Shift-E — or simply press the up arrow — and you’ll see the following dialog box pop up with the contents of your last message ready for editing.

Skype Edit Last Message

Quickly Add Someone to a Chat Group 

If you already know someone’s Skype user name, you can quickly add them to your current chat by typing the following command:

/add [skypeusername]

 Turn off Notifications for a Chat

Skype notifications can be a great and useful tool, but only up to a point.  If you’re involved in large, multi-person chats the notifications can get out of hand.  You can quickly turn off these notifications by typing the following into the chat’s text entry box:


This will disable all notifications for this particular chat.  Turn them back on again with “/alertson”

Start from Scratch

Sometimes, especially with large multi-person chats, the chat history window gets too long and cluttered.  Wipe it out and start with a clean slate with the following command: 


Manage Unruly Chatters 

Every now and then, someone has one too many white wine spritzers and “has to go.”  If they won’t leave voluntarily, the chat creator can “encourage” them to leave with the following command: 

/kick [skypeusername] 

This will immediately remove the offending individual from the chat.  If things get really bad, the creator can remove and ban an individual by typing:

/kickban [skypeusername]

Skype Offers Help

While these are our favorites, there are many more commands.  To get a listing of available commands, type “/help” in the chat entry box.  Happy chatting!

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MGG JIM said:  Turn them back on again with ?/alterson?

Looks like a typo. Shouldn’t that be “/alertson” ?

Dave Hamilton

Looks like a typo. Shouldn?t that be ?/alertson? ?

Indeed, and corrected. Thanks for the heads-up!


This will immediately remove the offending individual from the chat.  If things get really bad, the creator can remove and ban an individual by typing:

/kickban [skypeusername]

Um, do you have to do that a lot at TMO?  Just askin’...

And tell me, what does Skype do for you that iChat cannot?  I mean, this is The Mac Observer, after all.

Dave Hamilton

Um, do you have to do that a lot at TMO?? Just askin?...

Not often, but there was this one guy… wink

And tell me, what does Skype do for you that iChat cannot?? I mean, this is The Mac Observer, after all.

Yeah, we used to use iChat, but it had a lot of shortcomings. My preference for Skype began when we started the Mac Geek Gab podcast 6+ years ago: iChat’s audio quality sucks compared to Skype, so that got me started. Then it became obvious we should move our “TMO Towers” group to Skype for a variety of reasons. Group controls (like this one) were non-existent in Chat. Also, iChat only shows you messages in a group that are posted while you’re logged in, and only on one computer. With Skype, it’s cached by all clients, so when I login after being away from my desk, I see the backlog of comments which can be quite handy at times. IRC provides all of this in a different way, too, and I know a lot of “virtual” companies use that, too. We just decided upon Skype because it was simple and I was already well-versed with it due to the podcasting experience.


iChat?s audio quality sucks compared to Skype…

Now that is an absolute truth.  Apple could fix it, but they don’t.  I think they have more or less abandoned iChat.  Pity.

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