Apps for Free Video Chat on Your Computer

How to Video Chat on Your Computer Using Free Apps

Family video chatting with digital tablet
John Fedele/Getty Images

A free video chat service will keep you connected with friends and family around the world. Before you sign up, though, you'll need an active internet connection, ample bandwidth, a webcam, and an audio input and output device (microphone and speaker).

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Skype

Video calling on computer
GettyImages

Skype is the most popular app for voice and video calling. In the mobile market, Skype has since long been dethroned by WhatsApp and Viber, but it still remains the most prominent tool for free communication on desktop computers. Besides, users who don't know much about Voice-over-IP calling tend to subconsciously interchange the words VoIP and Skype

Skype is available for all platforms and is easy to use. The app offers HD quality voice and video and is often argued to be the best when it comes to both visual and sound quality.

Skype's video and audio calls are free within the network (i.e. calls between Skype users are free) and you can make paid audio calls to landlines if you purchase a subscription.

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Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts
Free and low cost voice calls can be made through Google Hangouts. Google

Google Hangouts is great for many reasons, one being that many people can use it right away because they already have a Gmail account. Your connected Google account facilitates login and accesses the contacts you already have stored in Gmail.

Since it runs entirely in your Web browser, you don't have to download a program in order to run it. It grabs hold of your webcam and microphone through the Google Hangouts website and delivers HD transmission of both right through the browser.

Google Hangouts is also available as a video chat mobile app for Android and iOS.

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ooVoo

Another way to video chat on a computer is with ooVoo, which lets you connect with up to 12 people at once. 

As with Skype, you can make phone calls to non-ooVoo users (like landlines) if you want to pay a fee. Otherwise, ooVoo-to-ooVoo video and audio calls are free. 

Use the service to call a Mac computer from a Windows computer, or an Android phone from an iOS phone. So long as both people use the ooVoo app, they can make video calls as often as they like.

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Viber

viber app on different screens

If you have a Windows computer, Viber might be the perfect free video calling app for you. It's as easy to use as selecting a contact from the "Viber Only" section of your contact list and then using the video button to start the call.

Viber lets you turn the video off whenever you like, mute the call, or even transfer the call. It works so much like a regular phone that it should be one of the easier apps to use from this list.

Viber only works on Windows 10. You can download the app on other devices like Android and iOS, but those devices can only use the text and voice calling features.

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Facebook

The most popular social network lets you communicate over not only text but also video from within your browser.

Making a video call with Facebook is easy: Open a message with someone and then click the small camera icon to initiate the call. You'll be told of any plugin you may be required to download to make it work.

Use the Facebook Help Center if you need help using Facebook's video chat feature through Messenger.com or the mobile Messenger app.

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Facetime

Puppy makes a facetime call
Daniel Nations

Facetime offers excellent video and audio quality with an easy-to-use interface. However, the main problem with this video chatting app is that it works exclusively on Apple's operating system and devices, and only with other Facetime users.

However, if you do have a Mac, iPhone, or iPod touch, make video or audio calls from the device almost in the exact same way you would make a regular phone call.

Similar to Google Hangouts, Facetime lets you search through your phone's contacts to find someone to call. One neat feature is that you can see which of your contacts are using Facetime (you can't call someone unless they're also signed up for Facetime).

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Ekiga

Ekiga (formerly called GnomeMeeting) is a video calling app for Linux and Windows computers. It supports HD sound quality and full-screen video that has a quality comparable to DVD.

Since the program functions much like a regular phone, Ekiga also supports SMS to cell phones (if the service provider ​allows), an address book, and text messaging.