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IM Sounds

Because I hate talking on the phone, most of my communication with my friends tends to go on over IM. One thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that most IM default sounds are barely audible. And, since I’m not usually sitting at my computer, I can’t hear the default sounds. So I’ve changed all of my sounds to louder, more easily audible sounds, and here’s how to do it on Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), Yahoo and Skype.

Windows Live Messenger

If you don’t have Windows Live Messenger, it can be downloaded here [1]. You will need to have a Windows Live ID (or Hotmail address) in order to use messenger. Once you have downloaded and installed messenger, either sign in with your ID or follow the prompts to set one up and then sign in. Once you sign in, you may have to double-click on the Messenger icon by your clock (looks like a little blue guy with a green shield) in order to open the main Messenger screen. Once you have that open, you should see your name in the upper right corner of the box. Click on that, and then on More options.

This will open your Messenger Options dialogue.

Click on the Sounds option and then expand the task for which you want to change the sound. In this screenshot, I have the New Instant Message task expanded. If you want to hear what one of the options sounds like, click on the blue circle with the white arrow in it on the right. If none of the included sounds are to your liking, you can use the Add a new sound option to choose a sound from your computer. Once you have a sound that you like, click on the sound to select it and then click Apply.

Yahoo Messenger

Yahoo Messenger can be downloaded here [2]. You will need a Yahoo ID (or Yahoo e-mail address) in order to use Yahoo Messenger. Once the program is downloaded and installed, open the Messenger screen.

Click on Messenger in the toolbar, and then on Preferences. This will open the Messenger options screen.

From the category menu, choose Alerts & Sounds, and then choose which task you want to assign a sound to. Choose Browse to see the other installed messenger sounds or pick a sound from your computer. Once you’ve chosen a sound, click Apply.


Although primarily known for being an on-line video chat service, Skype can also be used as a text chat service. If you don’t have Skype, it can be downloaded here [3]. Once you’ve installed and set up the service and put a few people on your contacts list, you can start chatting.

Once you’ve opened the main screen on Skype, click on Profile and then Change Sounds. This will open the Skype sounds dialogue box.

The box on the upper left chooses which event you wish to assign a sound to. The pull-down menu on the upper right is where you choose the actual sound. The Play this sound option under this menu is where you test the sound that you’ve chosen. If you wish to choose a sound from your computer, click Import sounds (highlighted here in red). This will allow you to choose sounds from your PC, which will then appear in the My custom sounds box on the lower left. Once you import a sound, it will appear in the Choose which sound to play pull-down menu, and can be chosen for an event. Once you’re satisfied with your sounds, click Save.

Enjoy your new sound schemes.

~ Randal Schaffer