How To Fix Webcam Problems

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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).

The next thing is to do is to check your Windows Device Manager and see if all hardware is recognized and installed properly.

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 XP device manager

If the device is not recognized in Windows XP, 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.

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).

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!

Comments



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

  1. valerie says:

    My webcam freezes after one minute into the recording

  2. Kyle says:

    @valerie – What program are you using for the recording with the webcam? Have you tried Debut Video Capture?

  3. elizabeth king says:

    webcam/video problem,not clear,blurry and freeze

  4. Joseph J Levy says:

    i have a builtinweb camera on my a931nr notebook but
    it is not picking up my picture. my daughter and i have
    skype and i was able to see her,but she did not get me

  5. Gloowryy says:

    Hi my laptop is HP Presario CQ42, i have a webcam build in it. My webcam works fine until today I have a video call on skype and the quality of the person who called me isnt very good and skype starting to say that I have a lot of noise in background and suddenly the skype got errored and when I called back, skype said that there’s no webcam. I dont know what happen. Please help me. Thanks

  6. Kyle says:

    @Joseph J Levy – Does the webcam show up in the Device Manager under Imaging devices? And if you use a local program, can you see yourself from the webcam capture?
    If it works locally, but your daughter cannot see you, it is more likely a network or firewall issue. See if you can use it with another person, and ask her to try that too, so you can determine which system is the problem (it can be incoming or outgoing web traffic).

    @Gloowryy – Not sure if you are aware, but Skype has had some serious issues with their services as a result of internet node failures. Should be back to normal by now, but if it is still a problem, you should check the webcam in the Device Manager as well, and possibly reinstall Skype.

  7. Amita Singh says:

    I am having the problem with my webcam.as i am just unable to take pictures and also not able to do video chat…

  8. Sam says:

    My built in webcam on my hp laptop has gone a strange purpley bluey colour and i cant figure out why
    . HELP

  9. Kyle says:

    @Amita Singh – What is you computer model, windows version and webcam model? Did you check the Device Manager? What does it show?

    @Sam – If you know when it happened, try to see what changed and reverse that change if possible. Could be some software update (even a Windows update), but if you can’t identify it, I would suggest you first try reinstalling the webcam driver and software.

  10. Rose says:

    Ive had my laptop cleaned recently so everything was gone and needed downloading again, e.g msn. So anyway i realised that my webcam program called Cyberlink Webcam, or something like that, was not in programs anymore, and there is no trace of my webcam in control panel or anything, even though its a built in one, any suggestions on how to find it?

  11. Kyle says:

    @Rose – You probably mean Cyberlink YouCam, which is indeed a webcam program. Just do a websearch and you will find plenty of download locations. If possibel select a Dell source, or other reliable website.
    But you might need to install the webcam drivers before being able to use the YouCam software. Just check if the webcam is present in the Device Manager under Imagin devices.

    »crosslinked«

  12. ERICA says:

    I BOUGHT A CHEAP WEBCAM, AND IT DIDNT COME WITH ANY PROGRAM OR SOFTWARE BUT MY WEBCAM DOESNT WORK WHEN I TRY TO USE IT ON MSN, WHAT CAN I DO??

  13. Too One person i talk to on my web cam. I hook up ok and after a few seconds i lose her . She bought a new web cam and the same problen is happen.
    Thanks June

  14. sarzu says:

    my built in webcam in my sony vaio laptop doesnt work at all, while using with msn,yahoo mess or skype so i cant do the video call…. i can hear the voice and see them but they cant see me at all and myself cant see in the screen….. please help me sort out this problem

  15. Wolverine93 says:

    My built in webcam in my acer aspire 4715Z is not working.
    It shows only a gray screen when i use video call on msn.
    i also checked the device manager but it doesn’t have the caution sign on it…pls help me

  16. igi says:

    I have same problem as sarzu (posted on January 13th). Camera works (light is on), all the checking passes etc. but I only have some picture of land/sea. I can hear the voice, see other people etc. but neither they can see me nor I can see myself.

  17. Kyle says:

    @ERICA – Check if the webcam shows up in the Device Manager. And if it appears to be installed and working, try a different program. You can also try SplitCam or Manycam if the chat programs are not directly able to use the webcam.

    @June Pickering – Do you mean the complete call/chat closes or just the webcam image? From what you describe it seems to be a network problem more than a webcam problem. Have you tried different chat/call programs?

    @sarzu If you cannot even see yourself from your own webcam, the webcam is probably not installed properly. First try (re)installing the webcam drivers for your vaio laptop.

    @Wolverine93 – Same thing, check Skype or YM to see if it is the webcam or the program you are using first.

    @igi – What program are you using? Voice is audio, and that is completely separate from the webcam (unless if the webcam has a built-in microphone), and seeing other people is also not related to your webcam.
    Try something like SplitCam first to see if your webcam is working properly.

  18. Clara says:

    Hello! I have same Creative live cam vf0620 and I bought a new pc and installed windows 7 on it. Webcam is not working anymore although I used all the indications from their official forum (about installing using compatibility), but they will not release a driver for win7. Any other solutions that you might now?

  19. boom says:

    i have a new laptop for two months the webcam is not working.

  20. iti says:

    I am having a problem while doing video chat .I am able to see the person but he cant.I have check my device manager it is updated.

  21. My webcam(ECAP) just stopped working all of a sudent.
    Everytime i click on it just keeps on saying “sorry, you have no video capture hardware video capture will not function properly”. i don’t know how that happened. Dose anybody know how i can fix it, PLEASE?!

  22. Kyle says:

    @Clara – If you already tried the compatibility options to install the Creative drivers, then the only option would be to see if there is a compatible driver from a 3rd party webcam manufacturer. Most webcams use common components, so that could work. If you can reply with the hardware ID I can check.
    Just right-click the device in the device manager and select properties. Then click the details tab and look for the hardware id property.

    @boom – Too little detail in your comment.

    @iti – It is most likely a network problem, not a webcam problem. Check the firewall and security settings to see if anything is blocked. You can see the port details for different chat programs in earlier comments.

    @Derrace Jarrod Simmons – Did you already try reinstalling the webcam drivers? And also try reinstalling the webcam software you are using for it.

  23. Claire says:

    I have a Dell Inspiron 1545 Laptop and I’m having problems reinstalling the integrated camera. I tried installing from the CD as well as from Dell website but haven’t had much luck. The error message appears at the end of installation “An error occurred while seeting up the driver”. I had to reinstall the windows and all the drivers too. All other drivers are working fine apart from this one. I would appreciate some help.
    Claire

  24. Kyle says:

    @Claire – What is your Windows version?
    I have seen cases where the same error occurs “An error occurred while setting up the driver”, and people were able to fix it by using the partial driver install, followed by the driver installation from Windows Update.
    If you open the device manager, do you at least see the webcam (or an unknown device)? If so, then try right-clicking it and select the update driver option. Have Windows search online and see if that helps.

    A second option is to manually unzip the driver EXE file downloaded from Dell, and then use the location of the extracted contents as the source for the manual driver update in the device manager.

  25. juan says:

    i install the drivers for my ps eye, i am able to see myself. but when i go to msn messanger it says video call, it showed me, but idk if she was able to see me/

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