Skype is best known for it's face-to-face video chat capabilities and secondarily for being able to just call someone over a computer's Internet connection, thus being able to bypass phone costs, phone time. However, Skype also includes the feature of instant messaging. In a world where many other companies also have versions of instant messaging, forums, live-chat rooms (bulletin boards), discussion groups, and live personal message (PM) chats, Skype's chat features still stand out from the rest!

Skype Messaging

What makes the Skype IM chat so addicting and so much fun?

(1) Immersive Environment: For one, it has the basic feel that's only available in Web apps (Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), because you're in a larger, immersive app where you can search for friends, see their photo, and chat with them. So that alone makes it feel more substantial than IM has been for Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and Lync.

(2) Client App: Plus it has the added advantage over the Web apps because it's a client-based app. That might be a slight barrier for people accustomed to the social media websites, but it's a great experience in comparison. It feels much easier to get in, faster, and "always on."

(3) Quick Movement: Also, Skype nailed the group experience for its IMs. It's not as heavy weight as a Yammer, Facebook, or LinkedIn group. You can quickly hop around between groups and contribute to various group chats. The only risk is that if a group gets too big and too "chatty," then the conversations move to quickly, and they're hard to follow. Part of the reason for that risk is that the group chat is still IM, not separate discussion threads like in Yammer, Facebook, and LinkedIn. So you can't tag and follow certain conversations. You have to go back up the linear thread to find what you missed or want to read again. But the mitigation is just to form new groups that act as sub-groups and split up the topics more. It takes a little bit of thought, but it seems to work in most cases.

(4) Quote Feature: This is one of the most glorious features of Skype messaging. You can quickly highlight a post, copy it (Ctrl+C), and paste it into your message box. It quotes that person with fantastic formatting, showing their name and even the time of their post. It's great! It puts all other messaging, email, and social media to shame! You can quote little blurbs of what people wrote and see instantly and precisely what you're quoting! And all you have to think about is highlighting it, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V. That's it!

(5) Edit Feature: Once again, Skype knocks it out of the park! It took Facebook 8 years to come up with this feature, and Yammer still doesn't have it. You just right-click any of your posts, and then you click Edit! It drops your post back in the message box for you to edit (that takes a little getting used to). Then press Enter again to send it! Also in the Right-Click Menu is the Delete button. You can only Edit or Delete a post within 90 minutes*. But that takes care of over 99% of the times when you'd use it! Most IMs do not have the ability to edit posts, so this is a refreshing and welcome feature! See Skype: How to Edit a Message Post.

(6) Delete Feature: Right click a post, and then click Delete. Click Remove in the pop-up message. Your post is gone, and replaced by "This message has been removed." Like Edit, you need to use this within 90 minutes* of your original post.

(7) URL Auto-Link: You can't paste in text with an embedded URL (the URL is stripped out). It's pretty rare that you can do that in any app. But you can paste in any URL and the URL is automatically checked, verified, and made hot when you post it! For example, Word and other editors require you to press the space bar after a URL to make it hot, and Google Chrome requires you to highlight your URL and embed the URL in it, but Skype does it for you automatically!

(8) Line Breaks: Some Web IMs that have conversations won't let you break lines with formatting. If you try it, you'll submit your post, and you often can't edit it. But with Skype messaging, you can hold Shift and press Enter. That will send you to the next line. This is similar to Lync and some other client chats, but in combination with #5, it means that you can go back to a post and then format it to exactly the way you want it, with the proper line breaks and white space built in. It's nice to be in control!

*Needs to be verified.

See Also