Eleven must have free add-ons for Skype

Skype Eclipse 4
Skype is transforming the world on a daily basis. It is one of those programs that is as likely to be used in the middle of nowhere in some third world country as it is in a fortune 500 company. This article will present eleven must have free add-ons for Skype that extend what it can do and enhance it’s user experience.
The add-ons: Clownfish for Skype (multiple functions), Idroo (whiteboard), Multiple Skype Launcher (launcher), Vodburner (video recorder), MP3 Skype Recorder (audio recorder), MAXA Notifier for Skype (notifier), SkyHistory (history log), Skype Translate (translation), Ursa Spell Checker (spellcheck), and SkyRemote (remote desktop access).
The list
  1. Clownfish for Skype: adds a wide range of text and voice functions to Skype
  2. Idroo: a shared whiteboard for your thoughts and ideas, within Skype
  3. Multi Skype Launcher:store and launch multiple Skype accounts quickly and easily
  4. SkypeAutoAnswer: answer incoming calls automatically
  5. Vodburner: video record and edit your Skype video calls
  6. MP3 Skype Recorder: record voice calls to MP3
  7. MAXA Notifier for Skype: get notified when there’s a change in the status of specific contacts
  8. SkyHistory: log your instant message chat history
  9. Skype Translate: real-time translation of incoming and outgoing text messages
  10. Ursa Spell Checker: real time spellcheck for Skype text chats
  11. SkyRemote: share your desktop or remote control someone else’s, right from Skype

1. Clownfish for Skype: adds a wide range of text and voice functions to Skype

Clownfish for Skype ScreenshotClownfish offers tons of added functionality to Skype. For instant (text) messaging it offers built in spell checking, text-to-speech for incoming messages, message encryption, online translation for both incoming and outgoing text messages in over 50 languages (for those times, if any, where you are instant messaging with someone who speaks a different language), and various other functions.
For voice Clownfish offers the following noteworthy functions: a voice call recorder, voice changer, and even even an AI talking robot (that can replace you if you like).
This add-on is simply remarkable (and free). Get it!

2. Idroo: a shared whiteboard for your thoughts and ideas, within Skype

idroo screenshotidroo math equations
In the ‘real’ world, collaborators and educators will sketch out ideas and illustrations on a piece of paper. With Idroo, that can now be done inside of Skype.
An unlimited number of participants can access and sketch on the same page; you will see their cursor(s) and they will see yours, in real time, just like the ‘real’ world. Also noteworthy is Idroo’s support for math equations and functions, which make it perfect for math tutoring (see screenshot to the right).
Note, however, that Idroo is free for personal, non-commercial use. For business use you need to purchase a license.

3. Multi Skype Launcher: store and launch multiple Skype accounts quickly and easily

Multi Skype ScreenshotDoes more than one person use Skype on a single computer? Do you ever find yourself searching for your Skype password after finding that someone else had logged into Skype?
If so, this add-on is a must. It will let you store user profiles and launch any particular Skype account that you need in a single click. Strangely, it will even let you launch multiple instances of Skype, each logged into a different account, on the same computer (presumably, to make sure that user x is online and receptive to incoming calls while user y is actively using Skype).

4. SkypeAutoAnswer: answer incoming calls automatically

Skype Autoanswer Screenshot
Skype auto answer allows you to add the names to a list of contacts whose incoming calls will be automatically answered, presumably for users who are waiting for that all important call, or wanting to ensure they do not miss that Skype call from that special someone while they may be otherwise engaged with non computer activity (and why not).

5. Vodburner: video record and edit your Skype video calls

VodBurner Screenshot2
VodBurner Screenshot1
Some Skype sessions such as presentations, online tutorials, or even business communications, etc. are worth video recording. If that is what you are after then Vodburner is for you. This program tries to add value beyond the typical screen recording program by offering options to quickly edit your video, allowing you to switch back and forth between the two sides of the conversation (or displaying both simultaneously), tweaking the aspect ratio, tweaking the volume, and exporting at high video quality (with the option to upload straight to YouTube). It can also send an automatic notification to the other side that the session is being video recorded. Or not. It’s up to you.

The trial version reverts to the freeware version after 14 days, after-which you are limited to exporting in WMV, and are unable to record unless the other side also has Vodburner installed on their Skype. This may not be a problem, but certainly can be.  I must confess to being somewhat puzzled by this restriction, since you could easily use a free screen recording program (such as this one, this one, or this one) to achieve more or less the same thing. Still, if both you and your interlocutor have Vodburner installed simultaneously, it is worth having.

6. MP3 Skype Recorder: record voice calls to MP3

MP3 Skype Recorder ScreenshotThis program will record any Skype voice call to MP3 (Skype to Skype, Skype to regular phone number, SkypeOut). It will do so automatically or manually, and can even record and save simultaneous conversations separately.
Although other software mentioned in this article can record voice calls and more (see Clownfish above), this software is excellent if you just want recording to MP3 without adding a ton of other functions which you do not need.

7. MAXA Notifier for Skype: get notified when there’s a change in the status of specific contacts

MAXA Notifier ScreenshotThis free Skype Add-on will let you add contacts to a list and to request audible notifications when it detects a specific change in their status, such as being online, available, offline, etc.
The software can play an audio file or can ‘say’ something specific via the text to speech engine, such that you only have to be within hearing distance from your computer to know what is going on.
If you are the kind of frequent user of Skype that keeps it on at all times, this add-on is for you.

8. SkyHistory: log your instant message chat history

SkyHistory Screenshot
This free Skype add-on will keep a log of all your Skype chat history and supports an advanced search function that can filter by a certain group of users or a certain period of time. Chat logs are easily exportable to other locations (e.g. your work vs. your home computer, etc.)

9. Skype Translate: real-time translation of incoming and outgoing text messages

Skype Translate Screenshot
Skype Translate translates in real time during Skype text chat, and can be easily switched on and off via it’s icon in the system tray. It can even auto detect the language of your interlocutor based on their profile settings.

10. Ursa Spell Checker: real time spellcheck for Skype text chats

Ursa Spell Checker Screenshot2
This program works invisibly in the background, providing real time spell checks for your Skype text chats in almost any language (for those of you who are multilingual, Ursa Spell Checker will let you enable spell-checking for multiple languages simultaneously).  Ursa Spell Checker is easily enabled/disabled via a hotkey combination.

11. SkyRemote: share your desktop or remote control someone else’s, right from Skype

SkyRemote Screenshot2
Ask yourself if there are times when it would be useful if you could see the desktop of the person you are Skyping with, or show them your own desktop, and/or be able to access their desktop and perform a fix or a task, or demonstrate to them how to use a program or feature on your or their computers.
If the answer to the above is yes, SkyRemote is what you need. This Skype add-on provides full fledged remote desktop capabilities right from within Skype. All you have to do is install SkyRemote on both machines (you and your Skyping partner), and make a call; once the call is underway you can access the SkyRemote icon in the system tray to either request access to the other person’s desktop or give access to your own.
SkyRemote is very easy to use, although I did find it a little unresponsive at times. Although the program recommends the installation of a VGA driver that is bundled with the installer to improve performance, it didn’t seem to install properly on my Win 7 64 bit machine despite repeated tries; however, I am sure this minor glitch will be fixed in future releases.

How to manage Skype add-ins

  • Go to  Tools > Options > Advanced > Manage other program access to Skype (see screenshot below)
Skype™ - Options_2011-12-22_13-48-30hint2hint1
  • You can then choose the add-on and click ‘change’ (or ‘remove’)
  • You can choose to allow the program to use Skype, or you disallow it; at the end press ok

[Thanks go to Alla K for doing most of the research and screenshots for this post].
Do you know of any must-have Skype add-ins that we missed? Let us know in the comments section!
Posted: 28 Nov 2011 03:57 AM PST

TEC screenshot 1TEC screenshot 2
The Email Client is a totally free alternative to using Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird and other email standalone client applications. It features a simple interface with powerful options, support for multiple email addresses, and handles POP, IMAP, and SMTP server configurations. It is available for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows and is a great option for those of us that want something simple and different.
Once installed, you’ll be setting up your various accounts in mere minutes. One of the nicest features about TEC is that much of the needed POP, IMAP and SMTP information fills itself in automatically during setup. If you type in a Gmail address, for example, it auto-fills the sections for POP servers, etc. Not all of the information is accurate, however, so it’s worth checking it against the information your email service has. Once you’ve filled in all the needed information, TEC takes you right to its main interface and offers to either begin communicating with servers, or to add another account. I was able to enter eight different email addresses, from various sources like Gmail, yahoo, and Hotmail, and it never mentioned a limit on how many I could have.
TEC is a great way to centralize all your email. For those of us that have many different email accounts, this is an absolutely invaluable tool to make our lives easier in regards to electronic correspondence. It has multiple themes, skins, and templates pre-installed to make you feel at home if you’re used to using a different program, like outlook. Once everything is set up, TEC runs quietly in the background on your system tray and will send and receive email for all of your accounts at intervals you specify.
TEC screenshot 3TEC screenshot 4
The main interface for TEC is nicely laid out, with auto-hide features for each section, and should be easy and familiar for those who have used other programs like it. For those who haven’t, it doesn’t take long to get acquainted with the interface and feel comfortable with it, despite the lack of documentation. One user, referring to the interface, said, “This looks like what Outlook Express should have been,” and I was forced to agree. Users of Thunderbird and other free client programs will also find much in TEC to be happy about. Another user described it as, “Intuitive and fun to use, without headaches.” Transitioning to TEC from any of the other ‘free’ clients out there should be pretty painless for most of us, and the 100% free price tag along with the lack of pop up ads is a major plus in my book.
TEC is loaded with features and options to customize it and make it your own. I’ve included a short list of them here, taken from their website:
  • Full e-mail functionality for POP3 / IMAP / SMTP
  • Most common email features (attachments etc.)
  • SSL-encryption when provided by your mailserver
  • Editable contact list and address book
  • Support for embedded emoticons
  • Nice state of the art interface
  • Rules support
  • Signatures
  • Templates for emails (per account)
  • Tasks
  • Built-in Calendar
  • Customizable interface with  ribbon bar
  • Spam filter
  • Skins
  • English and German language support
TEC screenshot 5The only real complaints I have about TEC are the lack of documentation and support, as well as the fact that during installation and setup there is no taskbar access so you have to use Alt-Tab or minimize all your other windows if you want to switch between them. Once installed and your addresses are set up, however, there’s a handy system tray icon that can be left clicked to bring up the main interface, or right clicked to bring up a context and action menu so you can do things right from the system tray without switching windows if you so desire. Additionally, the spam filer did let a few unwanted messages through, but given that TEC is still in its toddler stages, I think they can be afforded a modicum of forgiveness and optimism about its future.
All in all, I found TEC to be a wonderful alternative to the other clients out there, and I plan on using it for a long time to come. There are new updates to its functionality all the time, as well, so there will be even more great options in the future. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different, but easy, way to centralize their email.
Until next time, my friends.
Requires: Windows XP, Vista or 7
Get The Email Client here (or in here for German).


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