Saturday, February 26, 2005

How To: Save Skype voicemail as an .mp3

One of the reasons I want some voicemail capability in Skype is to use the messages for my podcasts. What a great way to get questions & comments that can be played back in a podcast for the listeners. At least that's the theory! In practice, it's not as cut and dry as that, simply because the voicemail audio is not saved as a usable file on your local machine. Once you play a voicemail in Skype, it does save locally; however it is saved in a .DAT file that I haven't been able to play back outside of the Skype client.

I put my thinking cap on yesterday and approached this issue from a different angle. I use audio recording software for my podcasts, so could I leverage that to save my voicemails in an audio recording. The simple answer is YES but I should mention that this is a manual effort. In it's current beta, Skype VM doesn't yet offer a way to do this automatically. Full details of the simple process are after the "Read More!" jump.

What you need:
1. Skype VM (currently in beta, by invite only)
2. Digital audio recording software. I currently use the open source freeware called Audacity
That's it; no special cables or "virtual recording" software is needed.

First you need to open both the Skype application and Audacity. Once you have both applications active, go to Audacity and click File, Preferences. Scroll to the Interface tab and ensure that the Enable Mixer Toolbar is checked:



Now scroll over to the Audio I/O tab and ensure that the Channels option is set to "1 (Mono)". You could use 2 channel or stereo for this, but it's not necessary. Check your recording device setting as well. Generally the default will work but you may need to experiment if you have special sound cards or integrated audio:



Click OK to save your preferences and go to the main Audacity screen. Look for the input drop down and set it to Mono Out like I have below. This will set up Audacity to record any audio that you will play on your laptop or desktop:



Very important next steps:
1. If you have a headset plugged in (USB or regular), unplug them. I found out through trial and error that this method does not work if my USB headset is plugged in; probably because the sound can only be piped to one output.
2. Move the input level (next to the microphone icon) all the way to the left, indicating an input level of 0.0. Again, through trial and error I found that any input level higher tends to result in a recording that is distorted because the gain is too high.

Next, click the record button on Audacity. You should generally see a flat sound wave indicating that Audacity is in recording mode, but there is no signal to record. Once you see this, go over to Skype and click the play button on your voicemail message.



You will hear the message played back on your speakers, but Audacity will also be recording the message internally. Once the message is complete, click the stop button on Audacity. Your result should be a visual sound wave representation of the voicemail:



The final step is to encode the file into the format of your choice. Audacity can handle encoding of audio to .mp3, .wav. and even .ogg. Chose File, Export As and then the format of your choice. To give you an idea of how this sounds, I'm publishing an 11 second .mp3 of a recent test Skype voicemail from James Kendrick. James is none other than my co-host on the techADDICTION podcast over at The Podcast Network. (Thanks for the message James and I'll record a better VM greeting soon!)

Click here to listen to or download the sample .mp3 voicemail (11 seconds, 87.3 Kb)

This should get you started with a simple, manual method to save your Skype voicemails. Feel free to experiment with other methods, but be sure to come back and post your experiences. In the meantime, I'm still looking for voicemails in this beta, so please don't hesitate to Skype Me! If you request it and send me your e-mail address, I will create an .mp3 of your voicemail and send it back to you so you can hear the end result!


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9 Comments:

At 2/28/2005 11:45 PM, Anonymous Jay said...

Kevin,

Are you doing a podcast now? What's the feed? Also I saw your article on Pocket PC Mag's website. I was like who woke PPC Mag up...then I put two and two together and realized it was a post of your article. You may find my post about it amusing.

Jay
pocketcasting.com

 
At 7/09/2005 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi.

I tried following your instructions. I didn't have the mono out option. However, I used stereo mix instead and it worked just as easily. Thanks for the walkthrough.

Mark

eurobratuk at hotmail.com

 
At 8/06/2005 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Audio Hijack Pro makes this whole process more or less redundant now... You just start AHP, hijack Skype, and record away. No special fiddling really, and you can add all kinds of effects and processing before recording.

 
At 10/26/2005 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read all info regarding the ways how to record Skype's voicemail... And you know what? THERE'S A SIMPLE - VERY SIMPLE WAY!!!

Did is what I did:

1 - Double-Click on the little speaker located on you Windows System Tray (yellow for w2k and earlier; black for WinXP);

2 - Click on Options and then Properties;

3 - Select Recording, make sure ALL boxes are checked, and press OK;

4 - Select WAVE, set the level at around halfway, and close this window;

5 - Open the Windows Sound Recorder program (yes, that lame soft that comes with every single version of Windows: sndrec32.exe);

6 - Click the record button - RED - and play the VoiceMail on Skype. Let it record the message. After it's over, press stop.

7 - Click on File and Save As. Before saving the actual file, click the Change button to alter the Format to mp3, i.e. MPEG Layer-3. 56kBits/s is ok;

8 - Name the file *.mp3.

VOI-LÁ

carloscn73@yahoo.com

 
At 1/20/2006 6:18 PM, Blogger Romerican said...

These instructions for Audacity did not work for me. Nor did the Sound Recorder instructions.

 
At 4/28/2006 12:28 AM, Blogger Timothy said...

The Audacity ones didn't work for me either. Maybe they made some updates (downdates) to the software. I noticed that in Audacity the "Mono Out" I think was changed to "What U Hear".

And when I went to the Sound setting in Windows 2000 the "What U Hear" was muted and I could not unmute it :-(

 
At 9/11/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not try PrettyMay which allow you to save skype voicemails as mp3 files easily.

 
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