Skype's promised end-to-end encryption finally arrives. Here's how to use it

You'll have to opt-in to use the feature.

Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read
Skype Private Conversations

In January, Microsoft began testing end-to-end encryption for Skype conversations. That feature has finally been enabled for customers, MSPoweruser pointed out last week. 

The feature, called Private Conversations, is available to users on Windows desktops , Android, iOS, Mac and Linux. When Microsoft began rolling out the feature to testers in January, the company said the encryption would work for audio calls and texts, as well as image, audio and video file transmission, using Signal Protocol by Open Whisper Systems. 

Keep in mind, though, that you can have only one private conversation on a device at a time.  

Here's how to start a private conversation on Skype:

  • Start a new chat on mobile by tapping the New Chat button, then hit Private Conversation. On desktop, you can do this by clicking on the new Chat+ button, then selecting New Private Conversation. 
  • Next, choose the contact you want to start the conversation with. They'll get an invitation, which will be valid for seven days. It'll expire if they don't accept by then, and then you'll have to send a new one.
  • After your friend accepts the invite, the private conversation will be available through the device that they accepted your request from. If either of you wants to have the conversation on another device, you'll need to accept an invitation from that device.
  • You can switch between a Skype and private conversation by hitting the Skype or Private tabs up at the top. 
  • You'll also be able to start a private conversation with someone you're already talking to by selecting New Private Conversation from their profile. 

If you want to start a private call:

  • Begin a new private conversation, or choose one that already exists. 
  • Hit the Private tab at the top of the conversation.
  • Select the Private Call button.

To delete a private conversation:

  • Click the chat header.
  • Go to Chat settings
  • Select Delete private conversation.
  • From that window, hit Delete. This will remove messages in that conversation from your device. 

To end a private conversation:

  • Click on the chat header.
  • Go to Chat settings.
  • Select End private conversation.
  • From that window, hit End conversation. If you want to start another private conversation with that person, send them another invite. 

There are some limitations to private conversations. You won't be able to edit a message or forward a file. Previews of private conversations also won't show up in your chats list or notifications, for additional privacy.  

Skype has previously offered 256-bit AES encryption, but end-to-end encryption is more secure, as only the people involved in the conversation can read the messages.

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