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. karim helmy says:

    my web cam do not work properly , where some time it works and another time do not work that may affect on my lap top
    my lab top is acer aspire 5634 WLMi

  2. Aisling says:

    I have a problem with my webcam that is driving me insane. Every now and then I hear a ‘disconnected’ noise from my laptop, the one you get when you disconnect a usb, swiftly followed by a connected’ noise. Then Dell Webcam Manager pops up. Sometimes a little notice pops up too saying something about port settings, can’t remember exactly what. My camera is inbuilt in my laptop, so it’s not loose or bad wires, and this happens when the computer is still and all I’m doing is typing. Drivers are good, says the device is working properly and all that. This is beginning to bug me, the only way to stop it is to disable my webcam, but I use it! Any ideas?

  3. Rob says:

    Hey Kyle,

    You are kinda my last resort here. I am not sure how familiar you are with Acer laptop built in cams but i got a question for ya. I open my webcam and everything works fine i dont have freezing issues or anything of the sort. I checked driver status and it is perfectly in sync and has the highest possible driver available. My issue is simply this. When i enter my webcam video capture properties, and i click on camera control all of my options (zoom, focus, exposure, pan, tilt, roll,….etc) are completely grayed out…im at a loss and i hope your expertise can solve this problem. My friends also have the same situation and any light you can shed would be greatly appreciated!!

    Yours in Webcams,


  4. Jeff says:

    Hey… I have a laptop with a built in webcam but when at home I have an external monitor that I use because it has a bigger screen. I place the laptop in a desk and have a wireless USB keyboard and USB mouse that I use as well. I want to use an external webcam that I plug into the USB port for use with Skype.

    When I start SKYPE, it is still using the internal webcam and I cannot get the external one to be an option.



  5. Glenn says:

    Toshiba A300 with Chicony web cam built in on Vista – goes black after a few minutes. Have reinstalled using drivers + software from Toshiba still the same. Have searched forums – Seems to be hundered of threads with same problem and only solution suggested is to reinstall. Where is the quality control for software/drivers these days if hundereds of people are complaining why aren’t Toshiba addressing. These sorts of problmes are unacceptibly especially for a built in device that iss effectively not fit for purpose.

  6. Giselle says:

    Hello there, I have a toshiba laptop and I recently had to reboot it because of a virus, I have a webcam already installed in the laptop and now after rebooting it, I can’t find it. It works on skype, yahoo, msn, etc but when I try looking for it on my computer or desktop somewhere, like if I just wanted to use it for taking photos or something other than a chatting site, how can I find it?
    thanks so much


  7. Kyle says:

    @karim helmy – You tried reinstalling the webcam software? Also try to check the conditions in which the problem happens, it might very well be due to a certain program that is running at the same time, while it is not running if the webcam works normal.

    @Aisling – I expect that would be something with the USB port settings. You can check the Device Manager and disable the power management on the USB Root hubs or other USB devices to see if that helps.

    @Rob – Actually we have an Acer Extensa laptop here as well, so I am quite familiar with it. Even though you have the latest drivers, it might still not be the right driver. Properties disabled like you describe are often driver issues. Have you tried uninstalling the webcam and reinstalling the origianl Acer webcam drivers?

    @Jeff – It should be possible to use multiple webcams, but if you are using XP then make sure you have the latest service pack at least. For Vista and Windows 7 it should work as is.
    You say you can not select the external webcam in Skype, but does it show up in the Device Manager at all? It should of course, so make sure you see it there and try if you can use it in different webcam programs.
    An other option is to disable the internal webcam device in the device manager, so there is only the external webcam.

    @Glenn – Only thing that I can suggest is to check the power management on the webcam device and possibly disable the power management on the USB Root Hub devices in the Device Manager. I am not familiar with other causes of this behavior assuming the drivers are correct.

    @Giselle – Most vendors install some kind of webcam program in their systems, can be amcap or something similar.
    But I believe that Toshiba actually includes the webcam application with the camera software download. It includes the driver and the program. Did you download the software from the Toshiba support site or did you rely on the default Windows support?


  8. Khalil Ahmed says:

    Dear Kyle
    I have Dell Inspiron 1545 and have integrated web cam. the cam is working but the picture quality is very dull and resolution is not adjusted.since i have tried through the properties of web cam but it has no option for its adjustment. i have tried various color pofiles but it does not work. kindly support. i need to bring good video quality of web cam.

  9. Richard says:

    Hi Kyle, After Skype ( video conference call connects it works fine for anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 minutes, it then FREEZES MY LAPTOP TOTALLY, must shutdown manually.

    Have Toshiba Satellite Laptop A305 S683, IntelCoreDuo T8100 2.1GH,Chicony built-in Webcam, ATI Mobility Radeon HD Graphics Card, VistaHomePrem 64 bit SP1 & SP2, use IE8, DirectX 11 (verified via dxdiag program), AdobeFlashPlayer, Linksys WRT160N wireless router, Arris Modem TM502G. And Comcast service.

    Did lots of Googling, but not sure what the right answer is. Have had 3 or 4 contacts with Skype help folks (did what they suggested) and I have tried repeated Skype uninstall/reinstall, reverted to numerous older versions all with no luck. I believe I have latest versions of all key items. Also, when I use the laptop webcam by itself, it WORKS FINE, it only freezes when using Skype.

    The other PC on my home wireless Network, is my HP Pavillion Desktop with HP (Arcsoft) external webcam, and it works perfectly on Skype.

    Is it possible that maybe Skype is NOT COMPATABLE with Chicony webcam, so I then was thinking of installing the HP external webcam on my laptop and see if that fixes the problem (Now that would be ashame, since the Tosiba laptop box and the actual laptop, had Skype Labels all over when I purchased it)

    (a) Is it advisable to install the external webcam on the laptop as a test ?

    (b) Finally what other things can I try to fix my Skype/Laptop problem?
    We are retired couple, going on vacation soon, want to video conf with the grandkids, etc. You may very well be our last chance for success. (been very frustrating at my age). Thank you.

  10. Kyle says:

    @Richard – Considering that the webcam works in all other programs, we can assume the drivers are good. Since you have also tested different versions of Skype itself already, the only thing that I can still suggest is that you download and install the DirectX runtime. That’s the only software component that is critical in proper webcam operation with Skype.
    And of course it is a very good idea to test an external webcam. It should work with both *you can select the one you want to use), but you could even disable the internal webcam for the test.

  11. Richard says:

    Thank you for your reply. A few questions about DirectX RunTime.
    a) Since I have the latest DirectX 11, do I still need to download the DirectX RunTime?
    b) Is there a way I can check to see if I have it already ?
    c) The download website link stated that “The direcX RunTime cannot be uninstalled”….this scared me a triffle.
    d) which do you think I should try first, the external webcam install, or the directX RunTime download ?
    e) lastly, if I do the external install, and if it works ok, does that mean I don’t have to do the directX download.
    (sorry for all the above, just a bit nervous about this, since my lapttop is working perfectly, other than the Skype Freeze problem)

  12. JOHN EDVARDSEN says:

    Hi my name is John,I just bought a new webcam it’s a SPEED S8850i,i loaded the driver,all of which loaded fine,but when I opened up the AMCAP to check how the camera was working,well it was working sort of with purple’s,red’s & yellow’s,I tried everything from changing resolution to re-installing the driver & driver wizard but I can not get this camera to work,ami doing something wrong or is there something I can do to fix this problem,thankyou,johnne173.

  13. dezie says:

    my acer aspire 7736z 3 months now crystal eye web cam was working fab. today i tried connecting video call in msn messenger but there was no connection. instead of showing my image there was a web cam icon with a red cross beside. I opened the programe to check and it was working fine, I could view myself, take pics and video, but when i connect to video call I get a red cross with cam icon. What has happened?

  14. Kyle says:

    @Richard – If you have DirectX 11, then you should not need it, unless somehow the DirectX installation is corrupt. You can run “dxdiag” to check DirectX on your computer.
    Testing with an external webcam, if you have one available, is obviously easier and has less impact on the configuration.
    If the external webcam works, it is not likely that DirectX is the problem, because the external cam would also use that. In that case it might indeed be a compatiblity issues with the internal webcam drivers and Skype.

    @JOHN EDVARDSEN – If possible check the webcam on a different computer to see if it is the webcam or your configuration. The problems you describe do point at the webcam itself or the driver.

    @dezie – Did you change anything on your system, like plug an external USB device? Could also be that a Microsoft update affected the configuration, although it shouldn’t of course.
    Always first try to reinstall the webcam drivers and software to see if that fixes it.

  15. keisha says:

    Kyle i have an acer crystal eye webcam built into my aspire 5315. i just got my pc used from a rental place so it didn’t com with a book. I tried to use my webcam but for some reason it’s upside down and i don’t know how to fix the problem. please help me get it turned around the right way.

  16. Kyle says:

    @keisha – That model comes with 3 different versions of the webcam (Suyin, Chicony and Bison) since Acer does not make webcams themselves. The up-side-down problem is in general a driver problem, so you might not have the right driver installed for it.
    You can download the 3 drivers on the Acer support site and try them each, or use a driver finder program to match the right driver to your webcam based on the hardware id for the webcam.

  17. dezie says:

    omg I have tried everything. uninstaling the whole crystal eye web cam files and folders. I downloaded the programme and drivers again, but im having the same prob. Not connecting on msn messenger (I do not use any other video chat programmes)The programme works on its own when i open it I can video and take pics of myself but it does not connect through messenger. Im going crazyyyyyyyyyyy.

  18. dezie says:

    ok now i have managed to get video comference and people can view me but now I cannot be heard. Maybe I have messed about with the speaker settings. I downloaded the latest realtek but still nothing. I can be viewed but not heard.

  19. Kyle says:

    @dezie – Check your microphone sound recording settings. A muted or low volume recording setting is often the cause of such problems. We have an article on this for Vista, but XP and Windows 7 are similar.

  20. sarah says:

    hi kyle i am very frustrated with my webcam. it does not work with the msn messenger but it works wen i go to “my computer” but it shows the body image as pink and the backround as green. i need help to talk with relatives on the webcam.
    Any suggestions?????


  21. steve says:

    i can see models there but when i try to start my web cam they only see blank screen

  22. Kyle says:

    @sarah – Did you try a different webcam program to check if the webcam is working there? Try ManyCam or something like that. If it works, you should try reinstalling MSN messenger.
    Other option is that it is a DirectX problem, but try this first.

    @steve – You’ll need to provide a bit more detail. What program are you using? If people can not see your webcam, first check the network settings as indicated in earlier comments.

  23. Nicole says:

    I have never used my gateway 2.0 usb webcam, how do i get started? Can’t find it anywhere

  24. Kyle says:

    @Nicole – First check the Windows device manager (in the Control Panel) to see if the webcam is listed under Imaging devices. If it is not, you probably need to install the driver for the webcam.
    If it is, simply start a program that can use the webcam and select the webcam as the default video input source. A chat program can be used, or you can record video with your webcam.

  25. Lee says:

    WebCam Speed S8850i Drivers

    It seems i’m the only guy around the world to ever upload these drivers on the internet.

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