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Tech tips

Tech how-to: Make phone calls from your computer

It’s tough living far from people you love, but telephones make that distance much more manageable. Unless you live very far away; then telephones can make that distance expensive.  

Roaming and long-distance charges, and using up tons of your allowed minutes can make phone calls really expensive. Click or tap here to learn how to make calls when you have terrible cell reception.

But, if you make a phone call through your computer, using Wi-Fi, those extra costs vanish. You can even make international calls, and save a ton! Read on to learn how to make calls from your computer, and keep your long-distance loved ones close by.

What you need

To make calls from your computer, you need a few things, like small pieces of equipment and software. Let’s go over the equipment first.

Understandably, you first need a computer. It can be a laptop or a desktop. You also need an internet connection, preferably one that’s reliable.

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Next, you need a headset or earbuds that can plug into your computer. Most laptops have built-in microphones, but they aren’t usually as good as using the microphone in a headset, or a set of earbuds, as those microphones can get closer to your mouth.

With a desktop computer, microphones aren’t usually built-in at all, so you’ll need the headset or earbuds to be heard on calls. The headset and buds can also help you hear better on calls than using computer speakers.

In terms of headsets, here’s an option that you will like. This Cyber Acoustics 3.55mm stereo headset with headphones and microphone works with PCs and tablets.

With a unidirectional noise-canceling microphone, this mic only picks up sound from a specific side or direction of the microphone. This helps minimize all ambient noise while speaking or recording.

For earbuds, we recommend Raycon. Raycon’s wireless earbuds are so comfortable — perfect for conference calls, video chats, or binging podcasts. And you can’t beat the cost.

Raycon earbuds start at about half the price of other premium brands on the market. You don’t need to worry about sacrificing quality, either. Unlike some of the other wireless options, Raycon earbuds are both stylish and discreet, with no dangling wires or stems.

Get 15% off your order at BuyRaycon.com/Kim.

Once you have this equipment, it’s time to decide on software. If you have a Mac computer, FaceTime will let you make calls over Wi-Fi, and it comes free with your device. You just need to have your computer and iPhone connected to each other.

If you have a Windows computer, Skype and Google Voice aregreat app/software choices, along with Keku. All are free to download, and likeFaceTime, allow free Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi calling. As in, if you call anothercomputer, it’s free.

Unlike FaceTime, however, if you call a phone number using these programs, you might be charged. Google Voice allows free calls within the U.S., and Keku includes unlimited U.S. calls for $5 a month, plus very cheap international calls.

But Skype charges by the minute and international calls almost always cost money. The rates are a lot less than most phone plans, at least, but it’s best to make sure whoever you call also has Wi-Fi calling to keep things cheap or free.

How to make the calls

With your equipment and software picked out, you’re ready tostart making calls through your computer. Read on below to see how to make yourfirst call.

To use the microphone in your headset or earbuds, first, plug them into your computer, or connect them via Bluetooth. Tap or click here for ways to fix Bluetooth pairing problems.

Once your headset or earbuds are in, go to your computer’ssystem settings, and find the Sound section. Find the “Input” tab; that’s theone that controls what microphone your computer picks up sound from.

Select the “external microphone” or headset/earbuds name option that should appear in the Input list. You can usually test the microphone and make sure your computer is picking it up on this screen once you’ve made your selection.

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With your microphone working, log in to your call software.For FaceTime, that should just involve opening the app. For Skype, GoogleVoice, and Keku, you’ll have to input your username and password.

To call someone through your computer on FaceTime:

  1. Click on the “Audio” tab in the left menu once you open the FaceTime app.
  2. Type in the phone number, or name in your contacts, of who you want to call.
  3. Click on the phone icon next to the number or name. A menu will appear asking if you want to call with FaceTime Audio or Call Using iPhone. Click on FaceTime Audio.
  4. FaceTime will make the call over Wi-Fi, rather than through your phone plan!

To call someone through your computer on Skype:

  1. Open and log into Skype.
  2. Click on the “Calls” tab in the left menu, andclick the “New Call” button.
  3. Type in a Skype contact name, or type in anumber with the dial pad.
  4. Click “Call.”

To call someone through your computer on Google Voice:

  1. Once you’re logged in on voice.google.com, go to the “Calls” tab.
  2. Type in a name, if the person is in your contacts, or click on the “Dial” icon and type in a phone number you want to call.
  3. Confirm that the upper right “Call as” field has your Google Voice number in it, and click “Call.”

To call someone through your computer on Keku:

  1. Go to Keku’s Call From Computer page, and log in.
  2. Dial the number you want to call or select it from your Contacts tab. Don’t forget the international code, if you’re calling outside the country!
  3. Click “Call,” and start talking to your loved one once they pick up.

And there you have it — you can keep in touch with faraway loved ones and save on international and long-distance phone fees while you do. We hope you enjoy calling people through your computer and stay in touch more than ever!

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research, as we may earn a very small commission. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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