Taking advantage of Skype on OSX

  • June 5th, 2006
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As I had foreseen late last month after Skypes’ announcement that all SkypeOut calls would be free (through the end of the year), I can now admit that I am definitely running up the bill. Not by the minute, but by the hour. Today alone, I’ve clocked in 6 hours of SkypeOut calls. Hell, there are a few nights I’ve even managed to fall asleep with Skype connected to a land line. Am I abusing the system? Or, am I simply being resourceful? Here’s how I’ve managed to save oodles of cash utilizing Skype and OSX for everything from quick calls for Kung-pow chicken to late night calls with “clients”.

Getting started

skype

While the internal mic is adequate, a headset provides a level of clarity and mobile convenience that an internal mic simply can’t match. Once you’ve paired your headset via OSX’s Bluetooth preference pane, make sure to specify within the Skype preferences that you intend to use a BT headset rather than internal hardware.

headset settings

If you’re using a different headset, your preference pane will reflect the device name and model that you specified during the initial Bluetooth pairing process.

Address Book & Skype integration

Once Skype is installed and configured to use your Bluetooth headset as the audio input / output source, you’re free to roam the VoIP waves placing calls to long lost cousins and old girlfriends. While the average Skype user would continue thinking that things couldn’t get any better, I’m here to tell you that “oh, well they can!” Why not take the OSX Skype relationship to another level and get Address Book and Skype to play nice? After taking a peak through the MacOSXHints archives, I discovered that calling US & Canadian numbers from within the Address Book was one-click process.

address book skype

  • I’ve modified the original Skype Dial script by Mark Hunte. Download your copy here.
  • Unzip the script and drop into ~/Library/Scripts/Address Book Scripts
  • Add phone numbers current contacts in the +1-xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx format (US & Canadian numbers).
  • Add Skype usernames by selecting ‘custom’ from the phone number drop down menu, entering ‘skype’, and the contacts Skype username (case-sensitive).

Once contacts are updated with their respective phone numbers and/or Skype usernames, you will now see an option to “Dial with Skype” when clicking on the number type.

Extra Skype forwarding

One feature that I’ve grown accustomed to is the ability to have calls to your SkypeIn or Skype username forwarded to an actual land line or mobile phone free of charge. Call forwarding taps into SkypeOut mintues which, at the moment, are of course free.

Skype at your Quicksilver fingertips

quicksilver skype

Quicksilver users are well aware of the value and convenience offered by the quick launch / gui Terminal / quick email sending / text snippet saving wonder. I could go on and on concerning this powerful app. Spotlight what? I almost forgot that thing was included with OSX. Here’s how to make the most of Quicksilver and Skype.

  • Assuming you have Quicksilver up and running, enter preferences and navigate to Plug-ins and activate the “Services Menu Module”.
  • Activate Quicksilver and enter text edit mode using “.” (period). Enter the phone number of your choice. Example: +1-xxx-xxx-xxxx, hit tab to move to the secondary window and type ‘call’ which will prompt you with the option ‘Call/Skype’.
  • The second method is to call contacts using the Address Book data. Assuming the Apple Address Book Module is active, invoke Quicksilver and locate a contact. Browse for a contacts phone number or Skype username, tab to the secondary window and type ‘call’. Activate the Call/Skype action.

Am I taking advantage of the system? I have dropped some coin on a SkypeIn number as well as voicemail. If Skype wants to continue dominating the VoIP race in my book, continue offering SkypeOut calls as an incentive and I’ll continue dropping the SkypeIn and spreading the good word.

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