Skype aims to provide a variety of communication options, such as text, audio and video chat; as a result, it provides a number of ways to test your current connection and quality. You can test your connection with any one of your friends who are currently online, regardless of whether you are in an active call with them, or wait to check during a call itself. If your call quality is suffering, you can perform a few troubleshooting steps to make your conversations a little clearer and smoother.

Check Before Call

Click on any of the contacts on your list, and then click the "Call Quality Information" button; this is the icon with signal bars below your friend's icon and information. Click the "Connection" tab, and then click "Test Now." Skype tests your connection and gives you an estimate on its quality. Note that you can only do this test for contacts who are online.

Check During Call

You can check your connection at any point during a video or voice call by clicking the same icon within the call window. The icon can be found on the toolbar at the bottom next to the "Hangup," "Mute" and "Text Chat" icons. Checking the quality during a call may be slightly more accurate as it is testing your connection over an actual call, and you do not have to test the connection before seeing results. If your connection is of low quality, Skype may offer you some tips on how to improve the call quality.

Improve Call Quality

If your call quality is suffering, you and your friend can take a few steps to correct it. If the audio is intermittent or muffled, try closing any other applications that may be using bandwidth; Skype lowers the audio quality to attempt to compensate for low bandwidth, so free some up to improve the quality. Also try to make sure that you are in a quiet environment and using headphones if available to avoid echoing. If you are using a wireless connection, make sure your connection is stable and strong. If you are having video issues, make sure your computer has enough RAM to run video calling smoothly; if not, close some programs you don't need.

Account Limitations

The extent of your features on Skype depends on what type of account you have. If you have a free account, you can do all the basics, such as text, voice and video chatting. However, you cannot do video chatting with more than one other person on a free account, whereas a premium account allows up to 10 people to take part in video calls and screen sharing at the same time. If you do have a premium account, you need a little more bandwidth for Skype as you add more people.