Making Phone Tones on Skype
By John Lister
A "phone tone" refers to one of two things: the noise made when you dial a number on a phone keypad, or the noise made when a telephone (whether handheld or virtual like Skype) rings. The former are a necessity when using Skype to phone a call center, while the latter is a matter of personal taste. Skype does allow you to recreate keypad tones and to customize ringtones.
Number Tone Function
Many call centers and switchboards for large organizations use a menu system to help redirect your call to a person who is able to deal with a specific problem, or to allow the person receiving the call to have your records open directly on-screen when the call goes through. Such systems can involve selecting options from the menu by typing on your phone's keypad, or inputting a reference number on the keypad. These work by each digit's button making a slightly different sound, recognized by the switchboard or system you are calling. This is a modified process, however, when calling on a computer via Skype rather than using a phone handset.
Number Tone Operation
To dial numbers (and thus create the tones) while making a Skype call, click on the keypad icon that appears at the bottom of the call screen. The icon is nine circles arranged in a square. When you click the icon, you'll see a virtual keypad which you can click on to dial numbers. If you don't see the icon, click on "Call" in the menu at the top of the screen and select "Show Dial Pad."
By default, Skype plays a telephone ringing sound whenever you have the software open and receive a call. As with cell phones, you can replace this ringtone with a sound or song of your choice. To do so, click on "Tools" and "Options" to bring up the options menu, then select the "Sounds" section. Next, click on "Import sounds" and browse to find and select your chosen audio file. Then click to highlight "ringtone" in the "Select which events play a sound" list, and choose your desired audio file from the drop-down menu headed "Choose which sound to play." Finally, click on "Save" to confirm your changes.
Imported ringtones in Skype must be audio files in WAV format. You can convert most other audio formats to WAV using third-party software. Alternatively, you can use a wide range of free online services that allow you to upload an audio file and then download it in WAV format (see Resources).
A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.