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Skype Hacks by Andrew Sheppard

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Hack #49. Add Fast-Dial Shortcuts to Your Menu or Desktop

Add shortcuts to your menu or desktop for your most frequently called contacts.

Works with: Windows version of Skype.

When making a Skype call, the typical procedure goes something like this: double-click the Skype icon in the system tray or the Skype shortcut on the desktop, navigate to the Contacts tab, find the entry for the contact you want to call, and then double-click on it. Now, for some people of leisure, all this clicking is a great adventure. For the rest of us who must work for a living, wouldn't it be nice to make that call with as little as just one double-click? Fortunately, this is possible with the Windows version of Skype, as we can add shortcuts to the Windows desktop or menu for our most frequent calls.

Menu Shortcuts

Navigate to Skype on the Windows menu (select Start → All Programs → Skype), and right-click on the Skype icon. A pop-up menu should appear, from which you should choose Create Shortcut. This will create a shortcut under the Skype menu (see Figure 4-9).

A newly created menu shortcut for Skype

Figure 4-9. A newly created menu shortcut for Skype

Next, right-click on the new shortcut (Skype (2)) and choose Properties. This will open a window in which you can edit the properties of the shortcut you have just created (see Figure 4-10).

With the Shortcut properties window open, you should follow these steps:

  1. Go to the General tab and rename the shortcut. In the example in Figure 4-10, the shortcut has been named echo123.

  2. Go to the Shortcut tab and in the Target box, enter a command such as this: "C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe" "/callto:echo123". Pay particular attention to the use of quotes, and if necessary, change the path to the Skype.exe executable.

  3. If you want to associate a hotkey sequence with the shortcut, click on the Shortcut key text box and enter the key sequence you want to use for this shortcut—for example, ctrl + shift + E.

The Shortcut Properties window

Figure 4-10. The Shortcut Properties window

Tip

Here's a nifty tip for when you associate hotkeys with shortcuts. If you have speed dial numbers set up for your Skype contacts, you can use them as part of your hotkey sequences. For example, suppose you gave echo123 the speed dial number 4 within your Skype Contacts list. You can assign the hotkeys ctrl + shift + 4 as its corresponding hotkey sequence. That way, your shortcut hotkeys match your speed dials. Unfortunately, as you can use only single digits within a hotkey sequence, this tip works only for speed dial numbers between 1 and 9. But if you assign 1 through 9 to your most important or most frequently called contacts, you'll always be only a short hotkey sequence away from making your most important calls.

Desktop Shortcuts

To create fast-dial shortcuts on your desktop, you have a couple of choices.

First, if you already have fast-dial shortcuts in your menu, you can simply right-click on any of them and choose Send To → Desktop. That will create an identical shortcut, but one that lives on your desktop instead (see Figure 4-11). Double-clicking on a fast-dial desktop shortcut will start a call to whomever you have entered as the /callto: name (or to the regular phone number, if you're a SkypeOut subscriber).

Desktop fast-dial shortcuts for Skype and for echo123

Figure 4-11. Desktop fast-dial shortcuts for Skype and for echo123

Second, you can simply right-click anywhere on an unoccupied area of your desktop. From the pop-up menu that appears, select New → Shortcut. This will create an empty shortcut on your desktop, as well as open the Shortcut Wizard. Use the Browse… key to find Skype.exe (see Figure 4-12).

The newly created desktop shortcut and the Shortcut Wizard

Figure 4-12. The newly created desktop shortcut and the Shortcut Wizard

In effect, the shortcut we're creating will run Skype from the command line, and as such we can add command-line options. The command-line option we will add is /callto: Skypeuser, where Skypeuser is the name of the Skype user we want to contact when we double-click on the shortcut. Under "Type the location of the item" in the wizard, add the /callto: command-line option after Skype.exe, like this: "C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe" "/callto:echo123". Pay particular attention to the use of quotes, and if necessary, change the path to the Skype.exe executable. Click Next, then name the shortcut, and then click Finish. Now you should have a freshly minted fast-dial shortcut on your desktop, like that shown in Figure 4-11.

Note that a careful naming convention for your Skype desktop shortcuts will pay dividends when it comes to organizing your desktop. This is particularly true if you have more than a few shortcuts. Using a short prefix, such as Skype–, for shortcut names will mean that when you organize your desktop icons by name or file type, all your fast-dial shortcuts will group together nicely as a block. This should make finding and calling your most frequent Skype contacts quicker and easier still.

With this hack, calls are now just a double-click away!

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