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Posted at 6:34 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

PostPoints tip: Privacy and screen sharing in Skype

By Rob Pegoraro

The Skype Internet-calling program has probably shown up on many new computers this holiday season (even if it did suffer an extensive outage a few days before Christmas). If you're among the people to install this free download, take a moment to change one of its settings and familiarize yourself with one lesser-known feature.

First, open Skype and go its Tools menu and select "Options..." (if you run Windows) or hit its Skype menu and choose "Preferences..." (if you're on a Mac). Then click the Options or Preferences window's Privacy heading. If you only employ Skype to talk to a small set of friends and family, you should change the ""Allow calls from" and "Allow chats from" choices to "Only people in my Contact list." This should prevent the rare but annoying problem of spam chats or, worse yet, calls.

Second, notice the "Share Screen" item in the Call menu and the "Share" button in call windows? The next time you're in a Skype call with a friend, you or the other party can use that command to add a live view of your screen or a particular window to the call. That's not ideal for showing off photos, owing to the low resolution you'll get on slower connections--but it can be an enormous help when walking somebody through a computing issue from afar.

(About the "PostPoints tip" title: I archive each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. Today's item went out on Dec. 28.)

Other stories you might have missed over the holiday weekend:

* Sunday's column revisited the last year's changes in the tech business, from social networks to smartphones.

* Help File suggested followed up on the prior column's "how to clean your data from an old computer" suggestions by outlining ways to resell, reuse, or recycle used computers and other gadgets.

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 3, 2011; 6:34 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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