How To Fix Webcam Problems

Filed under: PC Errors 

With broadband internet widely available, many PC users are actively using their webcams for video chatting and online meetings. Not only does the increased bandwidth facilitate the use of video over the internet, improved webcams and better video compression also help a lot.

But if your hardware is not working as it should be, a webcam is not much fun. So dealing with webcam problems can be a necessary evil. Webcam problems often simply mean there is no image to be seen, but in other cases you might actually get an error message or will not be able to select the webcam as the video source in your programs.

In Windows Live Messenger for example, you might get webcam error 0x8a70013, indicating a problem with the webcam device.

Steps to solve the webcam problems

One of the very first step is of course to check your webcam connection. Most webcams use the USB port to connect to the PC, so check if your USB cable is properly plugged. For build-in webcams this steps does of course not apply. Many new laptops have a build-in webcam. Also try connecting your webcam directly to your PC instead of through a USB hub (if you are using one).

But don’t forget to check if you need to manually activate your webam. In most cases the webcam will be automatically activated by software that can use the webcam, but for some computer brands it is necessary to press a certain key-combination to activate the webcam (it will be a Function key, either with Alt or Ctrl or the Fn key, but check the laptop manual for details).

Some known key combinations:

<Fn> + <F9> (Alienware laptop webcams)
<Fn> + <F6> (Packard Bell laptops, MSI laptops, Lenovo laptops)
<Fn> + <F10> (Neo laptops)

The next thing is to do is to check your Windows Device Manager and see if all hardware is recognized and installed properly. Use the Scan for hardware changes in the Action menu to make sure Windows lists all available hardware devices.

It might be that the hardware is recognized as a camera, but the right drivers are not installed. The yellow explanation mark will indicate a problem.

Other devices in Windows device manager

If the device is not recognized in Windows, it will be listed under Other Devices.

Windows Vista device error

In either case you can try to update the drivers. Right-click the device, and in the popup menu select Update Driver Software. Then follow the instructions on screen, but make sure you allow Windows to search the web for updated drivers.

In case no driver for the webcam can be found, you can try a third party driver finding program that scans your PC for installed hardware and allows you to install missing drivers.

If this fails, the next step would be to uninstall the software that came with your webcam. Use the Add or Remove Programs feature in the Control Panel. If that does not work you can use a third party uninstaller.

After uninstalling the software, restart your PC and then reinstall the webcam software. In most cases this will solve the problems. Depending on the software, you might need to unplug your webcam during the software installation. For many HP systems you need to install the CyberLink YouCam software, which can be downloaded from the HP site (for Windows 7 and Windows 8).

If the drivers and webcam software are correctly installed, and you still cannot see any video, there can be a problem with the program settings. Most chat and meeting software have a configuration option to select the video source for the webcam feature. If you have multiple devices that qualify for video, you might need to select your webcam device as the source for the webcam feature in that program.

Some webcams and programs require additional software, although that should be installed with the webcam if things are right. But is does not harm to check if your Java, Flash and Quicktime software are installed and up to date. But certainly check your DirectX software, since all video applications, including webcams, use DirectX for video processing. Try downloading the latest DirectX version and install it (Windows XP: DirectX 9.0c – Windows Vista: DirectX 10 – Windows 7: DirectX 11 – Windows 8: DirectX 11.2 is only available through the Windows Update function).

Lastly, if your webcam’s image is not sharp, check to see if it has a focus ring. A blurry image can sometimes simply mean the webcam is not in focus. Adjusting the focus through the ring can solve that problem.
Other picture quality problems with webcams can be addressed by changing the video capture properties for the webcam. Most programs that can use a webcam will have an option to access the properties of the video source, which will bring up the video capture properties window.

Webcam picture quality settings

Do keep in mind that not all settings will be enabled depending on the webcam and the webcam driver installed on your computer. In the example you can see that some settings are disabled. The example shows the video capture properties for an Acer Crystal Eye webcam.

What else to try: download missing webcam drivers!

If you are using your webcam for instant messaging with one of the popular chat programs, have a look at EatCam, which allows you to record your webcam chats from MSN, YM, ICQ, Skype, AIM and a few more!


1,563 Comments to “How To Fix Webcam Problems”

  1. Dan says:

    I have recently installed a Logitech Quickcam Communicate MP on my PC running Windows XP SP3. The camera works with the Logitech webcam software for both still pictures and video capture. However, the camera does not function with any 3rd party software I have tried, including Yahoo Messenger, Windows Messenger, and Skype. Device Manager indicates the camera is present, has the current drivers, and is functioning properly.

    When I run a 3rd party software, the program hangs when I try to access my own webcam, either by normal operation or in a setup mode. For example, when running Skype I can see other cameras but my own camera shows no feed. In setup when I select my webcam as the source, the program hangs and will not resume. I have confirmed that I have sufficient resources by watching the task manager during this process and it never goes above about 18-23%. All of the 3rd party software is of the current version, uninstalled and reinstalled since first attempting to use the webcam.

    Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Carly says:

    well what help would it do??

  3. Ernst Van den Berg says:

    Hi there

    My skype was working perfectly, but now when I speak to someone, I can turn on my cam, but as soon as the other person switch on there video, skype disconnect.

    Can you please help me


  4. tj says:

    hi, i need to open up my laptop because i have tried EVERYTHING to get the blue screen/no output to work on my laptop with no luck. the drivers seem to be downloaded properly. could you please help me out…thanks!!

  5. Hajdemi says:

    Hi there,
    I’m hopeless to get my built-in webcam working properly. I have a notebook HP Pavilion dv6528TX special edition. Whenever I try to use my webcam in MSN Messenger or Skype, it work fine for about 1 minute and then freezes.
    I don’t even know any more, how many hours I’ve spent on Internet looking for solution, but no sucess. I’ve reinstalled recomended driver many times, followed recomendation from HP support to restore computer to factory settings but still nothing. OS is Vista Home Premium, SP2.

  6. Kyle says:

    @Dan – Did you try closing the Logitech program in the taskbar and then us a different program?
    Assuming you are running XP 32 bit, you can also try SplitCam.

    @Carly – It comes back to the earlier discussion that the uninstall might not remove all data from the registry. So uninstall, clean the registry and then see if it works.

    @Ernst Van den Berg – It used to be working fine even with the webcam? The obvious question would be, what has changed? Does it happen with all parties you skype with or just a specific one?

    @tj – Did you have a look at Anthony’s article on blue screen errors?

    @Hajdemi – I have seen more problems with HP webcams, some people even resorted to using Acer webcam drivers instead of the HP drivers. Keep in mind that these manufacturers use components to build their laptops, including webcams components.
    Do you have any USB devices plugged? Try unplugging them when you test the webcam.


  7. Carly says:

    actually i figured out windows 7 isn’t compatible with my webcam. it doesn’t work with it – i researched it, and a lot of ppl are saying their webcams don’t work with windows 7. so anyways, im probably just gunna buy a new one.

  8. Hajdemi says:

    Thanks for reply. I followed link for webcam drivers, downloaded “Driver Finder” and after scanning it says that new driver has been found for my webcam. However, I was not able to find this driver anywhere. I was required first to pay in order to register software and download driver. I wouldn’t mind to pay if I knew that this driver would work. You also mentioned Acer driver, but I don’t know for what model to look.
    And nothing has been pluged in while camera is in use. It doesn’t matter which program I use to test it (Skype, MSN or HP Quick Play) same result. After 1 minute it freezes, and after comes for one second and again freezes and so on.
    My frustration is so big, that sometimes I want to trow my laptop in rubish.
    I probably could disable built in webcam, and buy another, but one of the reason I bought this laptop is to have convenience of built in camera.


  9. Yash says:

    Hi!! Thanks Kyle.. I was trying to install the driver from CD but it seems my driver CD has been corrupted. After reading your reply, I downloaded the drivers from the internet and installed it and now my frontech cam is working properly.

  10. Kyle says:

    @Hajdemi – You’ve already got Vista SP2, so that should not be the problem.
    Are you using an cabled or wireless internet connection? Did you check if the network is always working when you use the webcam chat?
    Just try a “ping -t” in a command shell and see if the response time or connection changes at all when you run your webcam test with Skype or MSN.

  11. Hajdemi says:

    I’m using wireles connection, but I don’t think this is problem, because audio conversation with other party is still continuing uninterrupted. I installed last night Chicony driver and my camera apears now as Acer Crystal Eye webcam, following some recomendation I found on Internet from users that had similar problem like mine and managed to fix it installing this driver on HP laptops. Nothing for me… still same problem.
    I dont’t know what to try anymore. I will be soon upgrading to Windows 7 and if this doesn’t solve the problem, I might buy an external camera. (Already borowed and tried one from friend – works fine.)
    Anyway, thanks for you time.

  12. gauthier says:

    Despite being recognized and working properly, I cannot use any webcam on my computer. On msn or with softwares.
    I managed one to pass the first step of the audio and video configuration on msn, and it was saying that both webcams were used by a softwayre.
    Is it a virus?

  13. sarah says:

    I have a new HP Pavilion enternatinment PC and when on Skype the web cam seems grainey and out of focus. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  14. destinyJ says:

    hi my name is destiny, i have a dell inspiron 1420 i bought it dec.of 2008 my webcam has always worked buy i just recently tried to use it and all that show on my video and photo capture it says no supported camera detected please plug in to continue……what should i do?

  15. Kyle says:

    @gauthier – No not likely a virus. Some webcam drivers have this problem. You can firs try reinstalling the webcam drivers, sometimes that helps after the other programs have been installed.
    If not, try SplitCam, that can also fix these issues.

    @sarah – Does it also do that in other programs, or only in Skype?

    @destinyJ – Same thing, first try reinstalling the original webcam drivers. The shared files or configuration could have become corrupted.

  16. arfah says:

    hello Kyle,
    i have HP Compaq Presario Notebook. it have the built-in webcam which was working perfectly until yesterday. but then i got a patch-up saying to upgrade my cam. so i click on it and it starts working as other software upgrading do. but then, a window appear saying that widows messenger is running on this system, u have to close it to proceed. i didnt get it exactly, so what i did i jus get signout from my msn messenger. and on that window click on retry option, but it keeps giving me the same error that windows messenger is ruuning. so finally, being tired of it i click on abort option. soon after this my webcam is not working properly. it gets open but there is something wrong with it now. its dispaly is not the same, like before i used to have nice pixels and clear view. but now its not and also it shows thing bigger, like it feels like u r siting very very close to cam. and obviously if i move back or away from laptop to give the nice view on cam then iam unable to type.. coz then iam far away from my laptop… hope u get it what iam trying to understand.. reply me as soon as possible..thanx

  17. Lubomir says:

    I have Windows XP home\r\nservice pack 3
    AMD Athlon 64 x 2Dual
    Core processor 4200 +
    2.21 GHz 2.43 RAM

    I did to try install camera VP-EYE 6.0
    driver S8850i

    After installing camera driver and software, camera was functioning perfectly, but when I tried to view ( open ) any video clip, Windows Media Player would not open with play button missing and WMP and my computer freezed up.Other software such as Power Director or Power DVD also failed to function. I had to restart every time my PC manualy by pressing the restart button. I did to try reinstall driver and software and result was same. When I install driver only ( not software ) WMP, Power Director and Power DVD funtioning OK, but camera not.
    Thank You for any help You can give me in this regard.

  18. Tiffany says:

    Hi, I have a Dell Laptop Inspiron 5100 (an older model) with windows xp on it. I have updated my flash driver, java, adobe reader and quick time player, but I still can’t get my webcam working. I have no idea what the make or model is on my webcam (also an older model) and I don’t have the driver CD. Any suggestions on how to get it to work? If I go into My Computer and click on the USB camera icon than I can see it, but I can’t get anyone else to see or hear it. Thanks in advance.

  19. Kyle says:

    @arfah – Did you try downloading and installing MSN Messenger to make sure the install succeeds this time? Another thing to try is a System Restore to bring back your computer to the state before things went wrong.

    @Lubomir – If the webcam software is causing problems, then just install the webcam driver only. In general you do not need that software anyway, there are plenty of program to use the webcam anyway (messenger, record video, take pictures).

    @Tiffany – Can you select the USB webcam as the video input source in messenger programs or in Skype? If it works locally, it should be possible to select the webcam in those programs. You can also try SplitCam, as it can help solve problems of a webcam not being available to other programs.

  20. Lubomir says:

    Hi to all.
    Thank you for help. Just now, my camera and all software is working exelent. I did install K-lite codec and from that time everything is working just perfect. Ones again, thank you.

  21. SHAHZAD says:

    i have dell gx 270 and when ever i connect my web cam with my system via usb port it give error like
    “creation of video preview failed
    please check the device connection and make sure that device is not used by another application or user”
    plase any one help how i can solve this problem


  22. Milton says:

    i am havin sum trouble wid my web cam……it seems tht whn im tryin to hav a video call on msn or skype my image is comin in green…..sooo ny solutions???

  23. arfah says:

    thanx alot Kyle, my webcam is working perfectly now. and i will soon restore my system as i got to know that its important.

  24. Lauren says:

    okay, i have the Microsoft life cam show. and it works great. but when i go to make a video call on skype, the other person cant see me and my video never comes up. when i test my camera on skype, it works fine too. help!

  25. Andie says:

    I have the same issue as Lauren, above. I first had this issue with MSN. At first, I would get the preview video, I could hear my contact’s voice, but I couldn’t see their video. They could never see mine, and after 30-45 seconds, my MSN would shut off. After trying to find a solution, I gave up, and used GTalk for my videocalls for a bit, but an in-browser videochat isn’t the most practical thing. So then, I decided to use Skype. It worked well for 2months, but now, my video never uploads. I can see the preview in the setting page, but nothing works when it comes to upload the video.

    I reinstalled/updated the software and the drivers, tried to reboot so many times. Nothing worked. I’m running an HP Pavillion Laptop on Windows7 Ultimate and I am using a Microsoft LifeCam 1000vx.

    Can you help me? What are my options?

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