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Skype Hacks by Andrew Sheppard

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Hack #8. Transfer a File Using Skype

Using Skype, you can transfer files quickly and securely, even while you talk or chat.

Works with: Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X versions of Skype.

You can use Skype to transfer files to other Skype users who have already authorized you. Indeed, it can be an easy way to transfer files among different machines in your own home or business (see "Transfer Files Among Diverse Machines" [Hack #57] ).

Tip

Skype has several advantages over email attachments when it comes to transferring files. First, it's more secure, because the communications link is encrypted end to end. Second, there's no limit on file size, whereas email attachments, if not limited in size as a policy of the email server, are certainly limited by the size of your mail server inbox. Finally, it can be quicker, as you can transfer a file during a call or while chatting, often with no more effort than that required to drag-and-drop a file.

You can initiate a file transfer in several different ways, as shown in Table 1-7.

Tip

Skype file transfer is currently not supported on Pocket PC.

Table 1-7. Ways of initiating a file transfer in Skype

Action to initiate a file transfer

Windows

Linux

Mac OS X

In the Contacts tab…

   

Select the contact, right-click, and then choose Send File.

Contacts → Send File

Select the contact and click on the Send File icon (Figure 1-10).

Select multiple contacts, right-click, and then choose Send File.

  

Select multiple contacts and click on the Send File icon (Figure 1-10).

  

Drag-and-drop the file onto the contact.

 

In the Call List tab…

   

Select the call, right-click, and then choose Send File.

Contacts → Send File

Select the call and click on the Send File icon (Figure 1-10).

In a one-on-one chat…

   

Click on the Send File icon (Figure 1-10).

Select the chat participant, right-click, and then choose Send File.

Contacts → Send File

Drag-and-drop the file onto the chat window.

 

Drag-and-drop the file onto the chat participant.

 

In a multiperson chat…

   

Click on the Send File to All icon (Figure 1-10). This initiates file transfer to all chat participants.

Select an individual chat participant, right-click, and then choose Send File. This initiates file transfer to only that person.

Pull-down menu opposite participant's name → Send File

Drag-and-drop the file onto the chat window. This initiates file transfer to all chat participants.

 

Drag-and-drop the file onto an individual chat participant. This initiates file transfer to only that person.

 

Pull-down menu opposite participant's name → Send File

Icons for sending a file to one Skype user, or to many at once

Figure 1-10. Icons for sending a file to one Skype user, or to many at once

You can initiate file transfers at any time, but they will not start until the recipient of a file accepts the transfer (see Figure 1-11). You can carry out several file transfers at the same time, but each will open a new window on the recipient's machine, asking to accept the file transfer. Having to confirm each file transfer can become tiresome very quickly if you have a large number of files to transfer. So, if you have large numbers of files, or whole directories to transfer, you might want to consider "Transfer Folders, Not Just Individual Files" [Hack #84] instead.

A recipient of a file transfer must accept it before the transfer can begin

Figure 1-11. A recipient of a file transfer must accept it before the transfer can begin

Like all Skype traffic, file transfers are encrypted end to end, so they are secure while in transit. But remember, once downloaded to your machine, they are again in unencrypted form. Moreover, downloading files even from people you know and trust poses the threat of infecting your machine with a virus, so it's always a good idea to scan all incoming Skype file transfers (see "Scan Files Received via Skype for Viruses" [Hack #75] ).

Skype is rather tolerant of a less-than-perfect Internet connection between sender and recipient, and a file transfer will continue even in the face of interruptions and congestion on the Internet. But the speed at which a file will transfer from sender to recipient depends on several factors, not least the lesser of the bandwidths of the sender and recipient and whether you're in a call or otherwise using your Internet connection. Having a Skype-unfriendly connection might also slow file transfers to a crawl (see "Test Your Connection for Skype Friendliness" [Hack #38] ). Having a Skype-friendly connection, or reconfiguring your Internet connection to get one, is one of the best ways to improve slow file-transfer speed.

Even though Skype puts no limits on the types or sizes of files you can transfer, bear in mind that extremely large files will take a long time even if you and the recipient have a decent amount of bandwidth, and that a transfer might fail if the destination machine has insufficient disk space.

The great virtues of Skype file transfer are that it's easy, it's secure, it works among different machines running different operating systems, and it will often work behind a firewall/Network Address Translation (NAT)/router and other obstacles when other methods simply won't.

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