How to use a Webcam

Just buy a new computer? Almost all new laptops and netbooks have built-in webcams to use for video chat or video email recordings. If you are new to webcams, your first question might be: How do I use the webcam? Often there are no instructions provided with the computer, there is no icon to click, and no webcam listed under the programs list. This article describes an easy way to test a webcam to make sure it is working and enabled, how to use a computer webcam to record videos and take pictures, how to use a webcam for video mail, and how to use a webcam for video chat services.

mailVU Webcam Video Recorder

Make sure you have a properly working webcam. The good news is we have a free website you can use to test your camera. Simply go to mailVU.com to verify that your webcam is working properly. By clicking Allow and recording a short video with mailVU’s onlne video recorder, you can make sure your image quality is clear, your lighting is good, and your mic is working properly. There is a webcam icon and a mic icon which includes a drop down list allowing you to choose among various devices. This is useful if you decide to plug in an external webcam, or use a webcam effects program. You can record yourself on our webcam video recorder and play it back.  If you want, you can even send video via email – for free!  Note that you can also share your videos and get a short URL to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other place. Share mailVU with your friends as a free and easy webcam test tool.

Now that your webcam is working select a program for taking pictures and making videos from your webcam. There are many to choose from, but two we like are Debut Video Capture and CamSnap. You may download them for free, and they are very easy to use. CamSnap even includes a 6 second webcam timer – perfect for taking pictures. When downloading the software you can choose to have an icon on your desktop for easy access. Your webcam pictures and videos can be saved in your Pictures and Videos libraries, and then uploaded to your favorite site (Facebook, YouTube, etc.). ManyCam is a great webcam tool for special effects, including substituting an image for your live video.  ManyCam also allows you to use your webcam in many programs simultaneously.

Earlier we mentioned the use of mailVU’s online video recorder to test your webcam and send video mail. We actually have Five Ways To Send Video Email Free. You can send free video mail to anyone on the Internet.   You can send video mail without an account, or sign up for the free account and save your videos to a dashboard.  If you don’t know what to record for a video mail, see this list of 101 Ways To Use Video Messaging. If you are concerned about privacy, select the self-destruct option which is only available in the account version.  You can set the number of views, or number of days that the recipient can view the video before the link is automatically destroyed.

Now it’s time to consider a live video chat service to use with your webcam. There are lots of good free services you can use, including Skype, MSN, Yahoo, and Google. Facebook now has live video chat too, compliments of their integration with Skype. These services allows person to person video calling for free. You and your friend will both need to download their software to use it. You can then see if your friend is online and conduct an instant video call to them for free. You can also use your webcam for desktop video conferencing services such as Google+ hangouts

If you don’t have a webcam you should read an article titled Which Webcam Should I Buy? which provides tips on the features and specifications to look for, and a list of recommendations in various price ranges.

Free Guide to Video Email Service Providers

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  • http://facebuzz Rick

    I used the free website to test my webcam however its not working the audio is working but the video is not. Please can you help me get my webcam going the image is completely black. When i test the webcam out of the net it works here but when i connect online it doesnt work.

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Hello Rick, and thanks for commenting on our Blog. Here are a few things to try. First if you don’t have Adobe Flash version 10 loaded get for for free on this link: http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/ Then try the free webcam test tool on this link: http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html You should be able to see yourself. If you can’t see yourself on the Internet, but you can use your webcam to record on your computer, it sounds like your Internet connection is the issue. For video you will need to be on a broadband Internet connection with at least 256kb upstream bandwidth. A cable modem or DSL or T-1 works great. It won’t work on a dial-up connection. A couple other thoughts: Be sure your computer is wired to your router/modem. If you are wireless that may be causing the issue. Also be sure if using an external webcam that it is plugged directly into the computer. If you are using a USB extension cord that may be causing issues. It is difficult to troubleshoot your problem remotely, but I hope one of the ideas above helps you.

  • Grace

    When i click on to cheak whats wrong with it it says there is no camera but there is cause its built in

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Hi Grace, and thanks for posting a comment on our Blog. If you could not see yourself on the test site (http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html) I can think of two possible causes. First is you may have changed your default webcam device default, and then later removed it. This can happen if you use a webcam software tool such as CyberLink, CamTrack, or another software program, and then delete it. On the test site there is a drop down box showing all the webcam device names on your computer. Click the box and go through the choices. It may be as simple as changing your webcam device default. If that doesn’t work your webcam driver is very likely disabled or corrupted. I will send you an email describing where to look on your computer to make sure the webcam driver is Enabled, and how to replace a corrupt driver if necessary.

  • beanie

    hi, i just bought a laptop and it has a built in webcam. But I clicked onto your site and It says that I dont have a webcam! and I looked through my directions on the papers it came with. and nothing explains how to get it to start working.. PLEASE help!

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    The test site (http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html) requires Adobe Flash to work. You can download it for free on this link: http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/

  • f

    can anyone spy on my camera when having a video call?

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Yes, there is webcam software designed for security purposes, that allows a person to remotely view through a webcam. Recently a Pennsylvania school system used it to monitor school laptops brought home by the students. Here is a link to an article about it: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9158818/Pennsylvania_schools_spying_on_students_using_laptop_Webcams_claims_lawsuit. To avoid it happening to you go under Control Panel, Hardware and Devices, Imaging Devices, and disable your webcam whenever you are not using it. Just remember to Enable it when you want to use it!

  • bekah

    i’m having trouble with my webcam. I have been trying to use it and when i click on the program it says no camera found. can you help me out with this?

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    If the free webcam test tool (http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html) didn’t show your image then it is likely your webcam is disabled or the software driver is corrupted. I’ll email you with specifics on how to fix these.

  • Poonam

    Hi i have an acer 5542 laptop and 8 weeks ago i had to take it for repair and the WHOLE laptop got cleaned up and so the icon for me to access or take photos got deleted.

    i tried that free webcam tester but my webcam came up all fuzzy. I don’t want to make videos and i went to take photos and like add effect to them. Any Help :)

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Thanks for commenting on our blog. The good news is your webcam came up on the test site, so your driver is correctly installed and the device is Enabled. Now to make the image better try the following: Since the laptop has been handled recently in the repair process be sure to clean the lens of your webcam with a damp cloth to remove fingerprints and dirt. Afterwards try the tips recommended in our other blog post: Improve the Quality of your Webcam Video. Don’t underestimate the importance of lighting, not just for darkness/lightness but it can have a big effect on image clarity. You may want to use the webcam test site while you are making the adjustments so you can see the results live. The other blog post you will find helpful is: How To Use a Webcam. In that blog post we recommend several free software tools for webcam recording, taking pictures, and special effects. Debut and ManyCam are two of our favorites. Feel free to email us at info@a2stream.com if we can help further.

  • Sayra

    Thanks this really helped but I think my webcam must be installed upside down…? Because my video is always upside down?

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    If the webcam is upside down when using Skype, try the following: Go to Skype>Tools>Options>Video Settings>Webcam Settings. Select Flip Vertical

    If it is upside down on all programs try reinstalling the webcam software driver (from the disc or from the manufacturer’s website).

  • Kristy

    I had a Sony Vio it build in with Webcam. Before, I had window vista and it works, but because of my labtop had virus and so my brother updated to window 7. I have tried to open the webcam on and didn’t not work. Any suggestion?

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Sony has a support section of their web site where you can download drivers for Windows 7: http://esupport.sony.com/perl/select-system.pl?PRODTYPE=1,24,26,66,9,70,5,72 Click on the Drivers/Software Updates link on the top right, and then follow their instructions to download. Then reboot your laptop, and then try the test tool again.

  • dave

    i download all the softwear but my webcam still dont work wat must i do when i try testin it it said i have no camera jus help me though dis

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    First go to Control Panel, hardware, Devices and look for your webcam. Go through the tabs to make sure it is Enabled. If you don’t see your webcam, or you can’t click enable, then you will need to reload the software drivers, either from disc or the manufacturer’s website. Once you think you have it working you may want to reboot your computer, and then try the free webcam test tool again.

  • Mike!

    Hey there. I seem to be having the same problem as a few people here. My computer doesnt seem to be recognizing my integrated webcam. I would appreciate a hand if you could lend one.

  • http://mailvu.com interVU.me

    Hi Mike. Webcam recognition is usually a driver issue. First make sure it is Enabled by going to Control Panel, Hardware, Devices and look for your webcam. Go through the tabs to make sure it is Enabled. If you don’t see your webcam, or you can’t click enable, then you will need to reload the software drivers, either from disc or the manufacturer’s website. Be sure you load the driver version for your OS. Sometimes when a person upgrades (say from Vista to Windows 7) they need to load the new driver version specific to their OS. Once you feel certain you’ve got the driver installed try our webcam test site: http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html. You should see yourself immediately in the Live Camera window. If you don’t see yourself, click the drop down box below the window to open up your webcam choices, go through the list, and try the options.

    Another thing I’ve seen happen is a person downloads a special effects program, such as ManyCam or MagicCam, and it becomes the default camera choice. If the program is not completely removed with a good programs like CCleaner, your webcam could still be locked up even though the person thinks the program is gone. If you try all these things, and the driver looks good, then your built-in webcam may have broken. This can happen on laptops with frequent opening and closing of the clamshell. You can try using a good external webcam (we sell them for $24.99 on the Webcam tab at the top of our blog). A USB webcam is going to be less expensive than trying to repair a built-in model. I hope this resolves the issue and you can resume webcamming. Feel free to email us at support@a2stream.com if desired.

  • http://? jen

    hi my mic isnt to good on my HP G60 is there another option besides buying a mic?

  • kasha

    ok, i’ve tested my integrated webcam, it definitely works, my problem is that i don’t know how to access it to use it. What is wrong?

  • http://mailvu.com mailVU

    Hi Kasha. I’m glad the webcam works when you test it. It will come on automatically whenever you launch a video service like mailVU.com, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, etc. If you don’t want to use a service and just want to record pictures and videos onto your hard drive you will need to use a software program. One of our favorites for the PC is Debut Video Capture Software. The software is free to download and very easy to use for recording webcam videos and taking webcam pictures. Even if your computer came with software, the benefits of Debut make it a great free addition to your tool set. For the Mac we recommend the standard Photo Booth application.

  • http://glbhendo@tpg.com.au grayeme

    Hi
    Have tried the test you webcam but it’s tells me no camera found, I have a samsung R580 with a built in webcam and the program that came with it is cyberlink youcam 4.
    Have read other blog on your site sound like I have a driver issue.
    Are you able to help me as I have no idea how to install this or what driver I need.
    Please help as I apppreciate you assistants with this issue

  • http://mailvu.com mailVU

    Please try the following:

    1) Go to Control Panel, Hardware, Devices and look for your webcam. Go through the tabs to make sure it is Enabled. If you do not see the webcam in the list, right click on the white space and select Show disabled devices. If you can see the webcam now just change it to Enabled.

    2a) If you still don’t see your webcam after step 1 then you will need to install the original driver again. Here’s a link:

    http://tinyurl.com/38x2tbh

    Click on Drivers (in blue under the Downloads tab) and the webcam software will be on the very bottom. If that doesn’t work, you may need to uninstall the software and try to install it again.

    2b) If you see your webcam under Devices, and it is Enabled but doesn’t come up on the webcam test, try running the YouCam program. Then go to the test site (http://mailvu.com/testCamera/TestYourWebCam.html), click Allow access to the webcam. If you don’t see yourself right away click in the drop down box of camera choices right below the Live Camera window. You may need to select YouCam as your webcam for your video to appear.

    Please let us know how it turns out, and if we can help further.

  • Bryan

    I have a compaq presario cq62 laptop and the built in webcam doesn’t seem to work on ANYTHING. I also can’t find it in control panels and such and usually when i check on that site you linked to test the webcam it says CyberLink Webcam Filter, it says it for skype and etc. as well. How can i get my webcam to work?

  • http://mailvu.com mailVU

    Hello Bryan. If you still have Cyberlink software on your computer you can start it up, and then the webcam should play through it on the free webcam test site and Skype. If you no longer have Cyberlink (perhaps the license expired), you will need to completely remove the software with a good cleaning program. I use CCleaner (you can download it for free off CNET here: http://download.cnet.com/ccleaner/). Once it is completely removed try rebooting your computer and go back to the test site and your webcam should work. You may have to manually select your webcam in the drop down box right below the live camera window. In Skype you can manually chose your webcam under Settings, Camera. Let us know how you make out.

  • http://chileleal@yahoo.com Thalia

    okay, so i got this new HP computer for christmas. it has the cyberlink youcam installed in it and the computer supposedly has a webcam bulit-in.i have checked the control panel and everything and it doesnt mention a webcam anywhere!i tried your test thing and it says turn on cyberlink youcam. and when i do it says i do not have a webcam! please help me!

  • http://mailvu.com mailVU

    Hi Thalia. On mailVU.com click on the camera icon below the video window. It will then provide a drop down box with a list of all the recognized devices on your HP computer. See if your webcam is listed there and select it. email support@mailVU.com if that does not resolve it. Thanks.

  • http://help!! chileL

    i got this HP computer called the G56..and im not sure if it has a webcam..it has an application called youcam3..but when i click it it says i dont have a webcam..im not sure if its turned off or if i dont have one at all! please help me! :)

  • Benja

    Could you please help me I’m having the same problem as bekah and when I try to use my built in camera it says te device can perform faster and just doesnt work…plz help.

  • http://mailvu.com mailVU

    Hi Benja. We wrote a different blog post called Technical Assistance for Common Webcam Troubles.
    Try the steps provided in the post, and then email us at support@mailVU.com if the problem persists. Please include your computer model, operating system, and browser type.

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