What Is the Invisible Status in Skype?

By Robert Schrader

As is the case with other web-based chat and calling solutions like Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger, Skype allows its users to organize their contacts into a contact or buddy list. Another similarity between Skype and these other services is the ability of each user to select his own display status, such as if he's "away" or "busy." Skype users can also choose to be "invisible."

Invisibility and Skype Users

The "Invisible" status on Skype allows you to be online and actively use the service without appearing as such to other Skype users who have designated you as contacts. Being invisible doesn't prevent you from contacting others, nor does it prevent other Skype users from contacting you. Although you don't appear online to another user if you set yourself to invisible, he can click your Skype name and send you a text-based chat or call you with voice or video, just as he would any online user.

Reasons for Invisibility

Several potential reasons for setting your status to "invisible" exist. For example, you might need to get work done on your computer as you use Skype and want to send Skype chats or calls only as necessary. Alternatively, you may be having a chat or call with a specific user and want to ensure that no one attempts to contact you as you describe confidential, personal or other important information using the service.

Advantages of Invisibility

Being invisible on Skype presents several advantages. For one, it allows you to remain logged on to Skype and able to use the service at the click of a mouse without the hassle of receiving calls or chats from other users. Furthermore, if you're trying to avoid a specific user or users for any reason, it permits you to do so without them knowing you're online, which could further offend or upset them if you're fighting.

Alternatives to Invisibility

The invisible status is useful, but it isn't always the best choice, depending on your situation. For example, if you're avoiding a specific user for any reason other than a fleeting difference of opinions, you may be better off blocking her individually to prevent further contact than making yourself appear offline to your entire contact list to avoid hurting her. Alternatively, setting your Skype status to "busy" or "away" may encourage users to leave you concise messages you can get back to at your convenience, rather than flooding you with a deluge of questions and other messages then next time you sign on from being invisible.