The Problem

I often find myself needing to run multiple instances of skype at the same time, e.g. personal account and work account. I like to keep these two things seperate. In fact for one company I worked for it was a requirement that we not use personal skype accounts for work related calls or chats and vice versa. On the face of it though skype only allows you to login to one account at any one time.

The Solution

Well it turns out that the skype executable supports several command line options that can allow you to launch mutiple instances using different accounts. It’s worth noting that this only applies to the desktop version of skype. There doesn’t appear to a solution for the Windows 10 (or UWP) version of skype at the current time. It also does not seem to work with Lync or Skype for business.

The skype support page details the following command line parameters: -

Command Description
/nosplash Do not display splash screen when Skype starts.
/minimized Skype is minimized to system tray when it starts.
/callto:nameornumber Call the specified Skype Name or phone number.
/shutdown Close Skype.
/secondary Allows you to start an additional skype.exe instance.

Cool, so the /secondary argument sounds like it would be helpful in solving the problem and in fact the skype support website documents a pretty good way of creating a Windows shorcut that will start skype using this /secondary parameter.

We could also create a simple powershell script to help us launch a secondary instance.

skype.exe /secondary

This works fine but it’s a bit annoying that I have to keep typing in the username field each time. After a quick search on ServerFault it seems skype also supports a /username switch that will pre-populate the username field with whatever value you give it. So we can do this…

skype.exe /secondary /username:joebloggs

Pretty handy! So we can now launch multiple instances of skype at the click of a button.