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. andre says:

    my internal webcam ois working as a being recognised as an external webcam on my laptop. it turns on and off when i use skype. when i checked the device manager it saying that the webcam is a usb device. why is that??

  2. Kyle says:

    @andre – Almost all webcams are connected through USB. Even if the webcam is integrated in the laptop, the physical connection internally will still be on a USB port. That’s why you will see it as a USB device and it might even seem to be an external webcam, while it is not.

  3. Lan says:

    my laptop says there’s an unrecognized usb port.what should i do?its act the webcam i think.because i cant video call for skype

  4. Kyle says:

    @Lan – Is it an unrecognized USB port or USB device?
    If it is a port then you would normally have to install the chipset drivers, to make sure the port is recognized and working.
    If it is a USB device, it can indeed be the webcam. So try installing the webcam driver for your laptop.
    If you list your laptop model (bottom of the laptop), and Windows version, I’ll try to point you to the right driver.

  5. mohd.nimer says:

    hi .. i have laptop “LG R405” i format it .. when i try to start the camera the windows give error “not found webcam device. check your pc camera ” .. so can u help me ??

  6. Kyle says:

    @mohd.nimer – Have you tried installing the webcam software for the LG R405?
    Just download the file from the LG support site and try that.

  7. angeline says:

    This error is driving me mad. I have an internal webcam that came with the Toshiba laptop (running on vista) for years. I’ve never used the webcam before.
    One day, this error popped up: ‘Webcam driver open fail. Please restart camera or computer’.
    No amount of restarting made it go away.
    I’ve opened up the whole tree structure of the device manager & I cannot find the camera in it to do an update for the driver.
    Please help if possible.
    Thank you.

  8. Kyle says:

    @angeline – From your description I suspect that an update to some other software caused the webcam to malfunction.
    Best thing is to reinstall the original webcam driver and software. If you can provide the laptop model (bottom of the laptop), than I can point you to the driver.

    But since the message is coming up, there is probably also some webcam software running now. You can check the Startup group in the Start menu, or use msconfig to check for running programs at startup.

  9. angeline says:

    Hi Kyle
    My laptop is a Toshiba Satellite A300.
    Model # PSAG4A-02500M.
    The startup group in the start menu shows nothing (Empty).
    MSconfig shows a whole heap of startups but I do not know which startup is the conflicting one.
    Thank you for your help

  10. Kyle says:

    @angeline – Well, best thing to start with is to simply reinstall the webcam software for your Toshiba laptop.
    After that you can see if things are working before taking further steps.

  11. jaiho says:

    Hey! My girlfriends webcam goes off every 50 minutes or so, and it says that it is used by “another program”, while there is no other program that the webcam would be using.. and when the computer is being restarted, the webcam works for 50 minutes again.. how to fix this?? thank you ahead! :)

  12. Kyle says:

    @jaiho – That’s a new one for me, I have not seen a problem with a device turning off after such a relatively long time.
    First thing that comes to mind is that the power management function of Windows is responsible.
    Open the device manager, and then select the webcam device, and right-click it. In the properties, see if you have a power management tab. If so, disable the power management feature for the webcam device.
    Then check again.

  13. rahul khanna says:

    Hi i recently bought iball face2face c8.0 rev 3 is working fine when connected directly to us but when iam installing cd ( came with cam only) no image is coming plus iam not able to use special effects and auto face tracking…..plz help….by the way iam using windows xp sp 2

  14. Kyle says:

    @rahul khanna – I am not familiar with the webcam support software that iBall provides with their webcams. Have you tried contacting the iBall support for the problem? They have a live chat option on their website.

    And have you tried other webcam software to use the iBall face2face webcam? If other software can use the webcam without problems, then the device is working properly, and the problem must be with the software itself. If the software is compatible with XP, ask the iBall support if there are any dependencies (like SP baseline, or DirectX versions, etc).

  15. chris says:

    I have a problem with my intergrated web cam it shows fine when you launch it but when you start a webchat program it shows up side down but the other people that view it say it is ok

  16. chris says:

    sorry my computer is hp probook 4710s with windows 8 32 bit

  17. Kyle says:

    @chris – In most cases the up side down webcam picture is a problem with the driver. Are you using the built-in Windows 8 drivers for your webcam, or did you install the Windows 7 drivers for it? If using the built-in support for the webcam, try the specific webcam drivers for your probook 4710s.

  18. sharon says:

    help web cam says concurrent user sessions are not supported what does this mean can’t use

  19. Kyle says:

    @sharon – That kind of message generally means that there are multiple programs trying to use the webcam. In most cases the standard webcam software (driver) does not support that.
    You can check that no other program is running that could access your webcam, or try using a program like SplitCam, which is intended to allow multiple programs access to the webcam.


    my web cam (built in) seems to be missing, how do I correct this

  21. Kyle says:

    @FRANCES HUDDLESTON – In most cases reinstalling the webcam driver or software will restore the webcam device.
    If you can post your notebook brand and model, I can point you to the latest driver for your webcam.

  22. Ramsy Juarez says:

    Hello there, I’ve been experiencing problems with my less than a year old HP Pavilion dv-7-6b78us Entertainment PC and so far it’s been more of a nightmare than “entertainment”. When I first bought this laptop back in Jan ’12 the pre-installed Youcam 3.5 software worked perfectly fine; I only used it twice (1 Skype) (2 Youcam 3.5 itself). The third time I went to use the webcam the internal microphone wasn’t working and every external mic (properly installed of course) wouldn’t do any good either. At the time (and also currently) I was an extremely busy college student and did have the adequate amount of time, nor knowledge, to fix this problem. The fourth time I launched it an error popped up stating that it could not find my Webcam which I thought was mightily peculiar since it was an internal webcam and I never uninstalled any programs. Ever since then it hasn’t worked (last 7 months or so) and I’ve updated it and even re-installed it more than 7 times (no joke). Every time I’ve re-installed it the program will work only once then every subsequent launch will result in the same error message saying that the webcam cannot be found. I’ve searched through the web to the best of Google’s ability and haven’t found a single permanent fix to this headache. I’ve grown tired of trying to fix this myself. Will you please help me? I would really appreciate it.

  23. Kyle says:

    @Ramsy Juarez – That’s a sad story about your webcam. From your description it almost seems like it might be a hardware problem.
    But I would at least check the following:
    1) check that there is no USB conflict/issue. Try disconnecting any external USB hardware (even if you use a mouse, assuming you can use the touchpad). Then check if there are any issues showing in the device manager related to USB devices.
    2) disable all startup programs. This will help prevent programs affecting, or locking the webcam somehow. Run the “msconfig.exe” from the Start menu to accomplish this. And of course check the All Programs -> Startup group.
    3) If no help so far, try using the original configuration of the laptop, either by using system restore or load the factory setup. It is very possible that a Windows update is affecting the behavior.

  24. mahdy says:

    I once uninstalled and deleted the driver of the Webcam om my Toshiba satellite p755D-s5378 laptop.
    And then I discovered that the mic is not working which I think is integrated into the webcam that is why I am trying to get my webcam driver back but I couldn’t.
    I tried to re-install the webcam application but the webcam is still missing .

  25. Kyle says:

    @mahdy – Can I assume you tried to install the webcam again by running the webcam software from the Toshiba support site for your laptop? (file: TC30463200A.exe)

    Any errors while executing?

    If this does not work you could try using a restore point from before you deleted/uninstalled the driver. Have you tired that?

    Last thing to try is a factory reset to restore the original configuration, but make sure you make a backup of your data before doing that. Also has the drawback that you need to reinstall any additional applications again though.

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