Skype is transforming the world on a daily basis. It is one of those programs that is as likely to be used in the middle of nowhere in a developing country as it is in a fortune 500 company.
This article will present eleven must have free add-ons for Skype that extend what it can do and enhance it’s user experience.
The add-ons: Clownfish for Skype (multiple functions), Idroo (whiteboard), Multiple Skype Launcher (launcher), Vodburner (video recorder), MP3 Skype Recorder (audio recorder), MAXA Notifier for Skype (notifier), SkyHistory (history log), Skype Translate (translation), Ursa Spell Checker (spellcheck), and SkyRemote (remote desktop access).
- Clownfish for Skype: adds a wide range of text and voice functions to Skype
- Idroo: a shared whiteboard for your thoughts and ideas, within Skype
- Multi Skype Launcher:store and launch multiple Skype accounts quickly and easily
- SkypeAutoAnswer: answer incoming calls automatically
- Vodburner: video record and edit your Skype video calls
- MP3 Skype Recorder: record voice calls to MP3
- MAXA Notifier for Skype: get notified when there’s a change in the status of specific contacts
- SkyHistory: log your instant message chat history
- Skype Translate: real-time translation of incoming and outgoing text messages
- Ursa Spell Checker: real time spellcheck for Skype text chats
- SkyRemote: share your desktop or remote control someone else’s, right from Skype
1. Clownfish for Skype: adds a wide range of text and voice functions to Skype
Clownfish offers tons of added functionality to Skype. For instant (text) messaging it offers built in spell checking, text-to-speech for incoming messages, message encryption, online translation for both incoming and outgoing text messages in over 50 languages (for those times, if any, where you are instant messaging with someone who speaks a different language), and various other functions.
For voice Clownfish offers the following noteworthy functions: a voice call recorder, voice changer, and even even an AI talking robot (that can replace you if you like).
This add-on is simply remarkable (and free). Get it!
2. Idroo: a shared whiteboard for your thoughts and ideas, within Skype
In the ‘real’ world, collaborators and educators will sketch out ideas and illustrations on a piece of paper. With Idroo, that can now be done inside of Skype.
An unlimited number of participants can access and sketch on the same page; you will see their cursor(s) and they will see yours, in real time, just like the ‘real’ world. Also noteworthy is Idroo’s support for math equations and functions, which make it perfect for math tutoring (see screenshot to the right).
Note, however, that Idroo is free for personal, non-commercial use. For business use you need to purchase a license.
3. Multi Skype Launcher: store and launch multiple Skype accounts quickly and easily
Does more than one person use Skype on a single computer? Do you ever find yourself searching for your Skype password after finding that someone else had logged into Skype?
If so, this add-on is a must. It will let you store user profiles and launch any particular Skype account that you need in a single click. Strangely, it will even let you launch multiple instances of Skype, each logged into a different account, on the same computer (presumably, to make sure that user x is online and receptive to incoming calls while user y is actively using Skype).
4. SkypeAutoAnswer: answer incoming calls automatically
Skype auto answer allows you to add the names to a list of contacts whose incoming calls will be automatically answered, presumably for users who are waiting for that all important call, or wanting to ensure they do not miss that Skype call from that special someone while they may be otherwise engaged with non computer activity (and why not).
5. Vodburner: video record and edit your Skype video calls
Some Skype sessions such as presentations, online tutorials, or even business communications, etc. are worth video recording. If that is what you are after then Vodburner is for you. This program tries to add value beyond the typical screen recording program by offering options to quickly edit your video, allowing you to switch back and forth between the two sides of the conversation (or displaying both simultaneously), tweaking the aspect ratio, tweaking the volume, and exporting at high video quality (with the option to upload straight to YouTube). It can also send an automatic notification to the other side that the session is being video recorded. Or not. It’s up to you.
The trial version reverts to the freeware version after 14 days, after-which you are limited to exporting in WMV, and are unable to record unless the other side also has Vodburner installed on their Skype. This may not be a problem, but certainly can be. I must confess to being somewhat puzzled by this restriction, since you could easily use a free screen recording program (such as this one, this one, or this one) to achieve more or less the same thing. Still, if both you and your interlocutor have Vodburner installed simultaneously, it is worth having.
6. MP3 Skype Recorder: record voice calls to MP3
This program will record any Skype voice call to MP3 (Skype to Skype, Skype to regular phone number, SkypeOut). It will do so automatically or manually, and can even record and save simultaneous conversations separately.
Although other software mentioned in this article can record voice calls and more (see Clownfish above), this software is excellent if you just want recording to MP3 without adding a ton of other functions which you do not need.
7. MAXA Notifier for Skype: get notified when there’s a change in the status of specific contacts
This free Skype Add-on will let you add contacts to a list and to request audible notifications when it detects a specific change in their status, such as being online, available, offline, etc.
The software can play an audio file or can ‘say’ something specific via the text to speech engine, such that you only have to be within hearing distance from your computer to know what is going on.
If you are the kind of frequent user of Skype that keeps it on at all times, this add-on is for you.
8. SkyHistory: log your instant message chat history
This free Skype add-on will keep a log of all your Skype chat history and supports an advanced search function that can filter by a certain group of users or a certain period of time. Chat logs are easily exportable to other locations (e.g. your work vs. your home computer, etc.)
9. Skype Translate: real-time translation of incoming and outgoing text messages
Skype Translate translates in real time during Skype text chat, and can be easily switched on and off via it’s icon in the system tray. It can even auto detect the language of your interlocutor based on their profile settings.
10. Ursa Spell Checker: real time spellcheck for Skype text chats
This program works invisibly in the background, providing real time spell checks for your Skype text chats in almost any language (for those of you who are multilingual, Ursa Spell Checker will let you enable spell-checking for multiple languages simultaneously). Ursa Spell Checker is easily enabled/disabled via a hotkey combination.
11. SkyRemote: share your desktop or remote control someone else’s, right from Skype
Ask yourself if there are times when it would be useful if you could see the desktop of the person you are Skyping with, or show them your own desktop, and/or be able to access their desktop and perform a fix or a task, or demonstrate to them how to use a program or feature on your or their computers.
If the answer to the above is yes, SkyRemote is what you need. This Skype add-on provides full fledged remote desktop capabilities right from within Skype. All you have to do is install SkyRemote on both machines (you and your Skyping partner), and make a call; once the call is underway you can access the SkyRemote icon in the system tray to either request access to the other person’s desktop or give access to your own.
SkyRemote is very easy to use, although I did find it a little unresponsive at times. Although the program recommends the installation of a VGA driver that is bundled with the installer to improve performance, it didn’t seem to install properly on my Win 7 64 bit machine despite repeated tries; however, I am sure this minor glitch will be fixed in future releases.
How to manage Skype add-ins
- Go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Manage other program access to Skype (see screenshot below)
- You can then choose the add-on and click ‘change’ (or ‘remove’)
- You can choose to allow the program to use Skype, or you disallow it; at the end press ok
[Thanks go to Alla K for doing most of the research and screenshots for this post].
Do you know of any must-have Skype add-ins that we missed? Let us know in the comments section!