Although best known for its video chat capabilities, Skype is also a brilliant tool for group chat and instant messaging. There are plenty of hidden commands and emoticons available to use in addition to the ones on show, so spend a few minutes familiarising yourself with the unusual emoticons (ranging from cute animals to rude hand gestures) and time-saving keyboard shortcuts, then test them out on unsuspecting friends.
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In addition to the emoticons that show up when you click the smiley face, Skype has over a dozen smileys for you to use. You're better off testing "(mooning)", "(finger)", "(swear)", "(smoking)" or "(drunk)" on your friend than you are your boss, though! Try "(bug)" for a cute bug, "(poolparty)" or "(toivo)" for little characters, and "(fubar)" when things aren't going to plan. "(rock)" and "(headbang)" are pretty self-explanatory.
Skype has over two hundred flag emoticons, and you can access them by typing "(flag:)". Replace "" with the country-code for the flag you want to use. For example, typing "(flag:jp)" will get you the Japanese flag, and "(flag:us)" will get you the American one (see References 3).
Type "/me ", replacing "" with whatever text you'd like to appear after your name. When you send this, it'll appear as a centred heading, and works a bit like an in-message status update. Try "/add [insert username]" to add a specific user to your conversation, and "/alertson" and "/alertsoff" will change your notification settings.
When hosting a group conversation, use "/clearpassword" to remove access restrictions, and "set password [insert new password here]" to create a new password. Type "/get options" to view current chat settings, and "/whois [insert Skype name]" to get information on other chat participants. For the times when you need to make a speedy exit, just type "/leave" and hit enter!
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