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. liz says:

    “Karen says:
    July 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Hi, I have Arcsoft WebCam Companion 3. I have a built in webcam and everytime I try to open up my webcam, it would say, “A webcam was not found or is not working properly. Please click Connect button and try again.” I don’t know how to fix it. I know I have uninstalled some unfamiliar programs in my computer, could that be the cause? I wanted to uninstall the Arcsoft WebCam Companion 3 and download it again but it would cost money. I don’t think my brother bought the program when he gave me this laptop. Can you please help me?
    Thank you”

    Hi, i have the same problem with karen.. please i need your help..

  2. Khim Roka "Pidit" says:

    My laptop doesn’t work webcam while connecting to network.When i tried to open then erro to connected will appeare this massage so how can i slove this problem . Tell me …

  3. liz says:

    i already solved my problem regarding my webcam.. :)
    the cam should be turn on first before connecting to its software. just press Fn + F6. i did, and my problem is solved.

  4. Anthony says:

    @liz – Glad you fixed it without the need to reinstall ArcSoft Webcam Companion. And I will include the keystrokes to activate the webcam in the article. It has come up in earlier comments, but I had not added it so far.

    @Khim Roka Pidit – Are you using a USB network device? And what is the error message exactly?

  5. alissa says:

    ok……so im 13 & dont know all that much about webcams…but i hav a Dynex cam..if that is a brand….& for the past 3 days my cam hasnt been..well….caming i mean i can still use the mic but it wont show pics i left it on accidentally over night on a website called tinychat & the nxt day it wudnt show pics but ive done this before it didnt do anything 2 my cam & nothing happened 2 it since then(lik it dropping or somethign dropping on it)….that im aware of….what might hav happened? can i fix it without having 2 get a new 1 or paying sum1 else to fix it for me?

  6. dya says:

    Hi Kyle,
    I’m having a problem with my dell web cam. Integrated Webcam only work inside YM. and when i open dell webcam, its said:
    “failed to start video preview.Please reconnect your camera”
    can u please suggest something to fix this prob.

  7. Kyle says:

    @alissa – Normally leaving the webcam on at a website should not have any negative effects. Have you tried simply installing the original Dynex webcam divers?

    @dya – What is the Dell notebook model? If it works in YM, does it not work in Skype as well?

  8. sandeep says:

    Hi i have a Acer Aspire 5732z and everytime i go on my webcam it doesn’t show up or connect and it is built in. it doesn’t seem to connect. sometimes it works but other times it doesn’t :(

  9. munib says:

    my hp laptop webcam installed in the laptop is not working. picture we cant see but mist like is seen. laptop fell down and after that the camera is not working can any one tell us howw to repair it

  10. Kyle says:

    @sandeep – If it appears to be that the webcam functions randomly, it could still be that something else is negatively affecting the webcam operation. Try unplugging all other USB devices and see if that makes a difference.
    And try different webcam software, the problem might be related to a specific program.

    @munib – If the webcam was working and malfunctions after falling, you might need to have it repaired at an HP service center. Opening a laptop yourself is generally not recommended. It would be safe to simply get an external USB webcam.

  11. Leanne says:

    I was given this laptop so I dont have any CDs or anything, it an Acer and has a built in Crystal Eye webcam. The computer is not even showing that there are any audio devices on it so my mic isnt working at all. I am at a loss on what to do. I tried to update the drivers for the cam but it says the latest are installed. Could it be disconnected inside the laptop or something?? thanks for any help.

  12. Kyle says:

    @Leanne – The audio, including the microphone, is not related to the webcam drivers, but will depend on the right audio drivers being installed.
    What is the Acer notebook model? And what is your Windows version?


  13. Jen says:

    I’m having the same problem as Leanne except I do have audio. My built in web cam isn’t found anymore and it was working great until the newest windows 7 update yesterday. I’ve tried updating drivers but nothing seems to be helping. I have an Acer Aspire One D225. If anyone can help me with this I’d be so grateful.

  14. amy says:

    hi my camera is broking
    anytime i go on video chat with my freind and my cam is showing gold stars

  15. tiinker says:

    Actually these instructions are the only one that have worked for me. I’ve searched everywhere and none of them have worked for me.

  16. saabi says:

    hai,i m having problem with my webcam ,when i open it it shows ur webcam driver open fail, what shud i do

  17. Kyle says:

    @Jen – That does appear to be a webcam problem indeed. Do you mean you have tried to update the webcam drivers for your laptop using the Windows auto-update search from the Device Manager?
    You might need to reinstall the webcam driver. There are 3 different brands of webcam that are possible with the Acer Aspire One D225 though. If you can’t find the driver, let me know the hardware ID (from the Device Manager) and if your Windows 7 version is 32 or 64 bit, I can check for you.

    @amy – I have never heard about that type of webcam problem before. Have you checked if some special webcam software is installed that is showing the gold stars?
    I’d check the program list in the Control Panel -> Uninstall option and remove any unknown webcam related software.

    @tiinker – Thanks for sharing. I’m a bit surprised by that solution, as the UpperFilter/LowerFilter settings in the registry are actually often the cause of CD/DVD drive issues.

    @saabi – First check if you do not need to activate your webcam with a key combination, some notebooks required that.
    If not, then you should try to reinstall the driver for your webcam to make sure it is installed and working.
    Also try different programs to use the webcam, to rule out the option that the problem is related to a specific program only.

  18. amy says:

    hi i think my uncles done sumting to it x

  19. Ronnie says:

    Hi Kyle,

    I have a really frustrating problem with skype. My video works sometimes and then sometimes it does not. I can see the other person’s video but they can often not see mine.

    I have a HP laptop with Windows Vista and an in-built HP Pavilion webcam. Skype says “Can’t start video. Try closing other programs that might be using your webcam.”

    I have checked the drivers and they are up to date. Direct X10 is also the latest appropriate version for Vista. My Skype video settings are also correct.

    My question is, why does it work sometimes (the camera light comes on and my video appears) but often does not? If there is another application that is secretly using the camera, how in the world do I find out which application that is? Is there any way that I can find out which other application is using my webcam and then turn it off? I sthere no program that can find this out for me?

    I have tried everything but cannot find a solution. I do not use windows messanger or anyother chat sites. I do use facebook but not for chatting. Neither do I use the webcam with anyother application.

    Skype is really important to me as it is the only way I can keep in touch with my friends and family back home and it means a lot to me.

    I would really apprecaite if you would have some positive advice for me in order to solve this frustrating problem.

    Thanks in advance

  20. Kyle says:

    @amy – Would be best to first ask your uncle what he did then. You might be able to reverse it easily once you know what.

    @Ronnnie – There are three things I would suggest to try.
    The first is to check if any standard webcam software from HP (MediaSmart?) is installed and set to start with the webcam. If so, try disabling or uninstalling it.
    It is possible that whenever Skype activates the webcam this HP software also starts. If that is the case, it is a matter of which program locks the webcam first for use.

    The second option is that Skype itself is the problem. So you can try uninstalling Skype and using an older version. That has helped people in a few similar situations as well. You can get older versions of Skype at:

    The third, if all fails, is to try a program like ManyCam or SplitCam. These applications act as an interface between the webcam and other programs and allow webcam sharing between applications. So exclusive access to the webcam should no longer be a problem in case that is the cause.

  21. Ronnie says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    I got lucky!!! I deinstalled most of the Windows features like Live Chat, etc…

    And now my video works. I’m delighted.

    Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

    Best Wishes


  22. Fred says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Sorry to disturb you again. I have a sony vgnsz61mn latptop, which was recently reinstalled with a windows 7 (64k I believe).

    Webcam does not work for MSN or skype …; It says that the drivers have all been installed and are updated, but I am quite sure the problem comes from there. Where can I find
    1. the name of my cam and model
    2. the drivers for windows 7 64K

    Thanks so much for your help !

  23. Kyle says:

    @Ronnie – Glad it works again!

    @Fred – The Sony Vaio VGN-SZ61MN has a Ricoh webcam. It is the VGP-VCC7 webcam in Sony’s terms, but it is a third party webcam from Ricoh based on the 5U870 webcam.
    As far as I know there are no official Windows 7 drivers for that webcam, especially not for the 64-bit version.
    But there is an unofficial version of the VGN-VCC7 drivers that is supposed to be compatible with Vista 64-bit, so possibly also for your Windows 7 version.
    Just download it here (I made a temporary upload).

  24. NuclearLullaby says:

    I am trying to work a Philips My Cam web cam with Many Cam ,transfer it into monkey jam stop motion editor & then transfer that to Magix movies on DVD 7 .I used to be able to do so just fine,but recently I’ve been running into issues with Magix not being able to relay info from many cam or monkey jam ! I don’t really know what to do! I am eventually getting a new camera & would like one that can shoot video & work as a web cam ,if anyone has advice on ether of these issues I’d appreciate all the help I could get!

  25. Maurice says:

    Ok here goes,
    my windows has just been reinstalled by a my comp guy.any way when i go my website or yahoo it says not working i have installed and uninsatted to try and figure it out ,
    when i go to a certain site the resoultian changes and its blurry ,this bnever this before he fixed it
    Help pleae

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