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Skype started life as an easy way for regular PC users to chat with their friends via text and voice chat. But underneath that user-friendly veneer, Skype has a few power moves ready and waiting for people who know about them.
I’m talking about Skype’s slash commands. If you don’t know what those are, slash commands begin with a “/“ and tell a program to carry out a specific action. Longtime chat users will recognize slash commands from the days of Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, one of the earliest ways to do live text chat online—and still widely used among technophiles.
Controlling IRC clients typically requires the use of text commands preceded by a slash such as /AWAY or /JOIN. Many newer apps and services still use slash commands such as the popular workplace messaging apps Hipchat and Slack.
While text commands may seem silly in the day of visual interfaces, they are often more efficient to use than point-and-click commands. And in the case of Skype they reveal hidden functionality you won’t get from the regular menu.
Here are a few key commands to liven up your Skype life. You can type these commands into any chat and the other side won’t see them.
If you need to see how many devices you’re logged into on Skype type /showplaces and hit Enter. Skype will show you a list of devices where Skype is running under your account. If you want to log out of all Skype clients except the one you’re currently using type /remotelogout. Note that these commands don’t work with Skype for the Web.
Want to add your mom to a chat with your brother? As long as you know mom’s Skype username—i.e. not her real name—use /add [Skype Name]. Skype will start a group text conversation with mom and her kids. If everyone wants to start a group conversation via voice or video type /golive and the call will start—this feature doesn’t work with one-on-one conversations.
Now let’s say you’re in a group chat and someone else is getting hard to take, you can bow out by typing /leave. You could also dump your mom or brother from the chat by typing /kick [Skype Name].