Almost all new laptops and netbooks have built-in webcams. Many new owners ask: How do I use the webcam? Typically there is no icon to click to activate a webcam, and nothing indicated under the programs list. This article describes how to test a webcam to make sure it is working, how to use a webcam to take pictures and videos, and how to use a webcam for video chat services.
The first step to take is to test your webcam to make sure it is working. The good news is we have a free web site you can use to test your camera. Simply click here to test your webcam. By using this site you can make sure your image quality is clear, your lighting is good, and you are in focus.
The site includes a drop down list allowing you to choose among various webcam devices. This is useful if you decide to plug in an external webcam, or use a webcam effects program. Bookmark the link and use it whenever you need to test a webcam to make sure it is working properly. Share the link with your friends so they can also test their webcams.
The second step is to choose a software program for taking pictures and making videos from your webcam. There are many to choose from, but two we like are Debut Video Capture and CamSnap. Both have a free download version, and they are very easy to use. When downloading the software you can choose to have an icon on your desktop for easy access. Files can be saved in your Pictures and Videos libraries, and then uploaded to your favorite site (Facebook, YouTube, etc.).
The third step is to choose a video chat service to use for live video communication with your webcam. Service is available from many providers, including Skype, MSN, Yahoo, and Google. Each of these services allows person to person video calling for free. You and your friend will both need to download their software to use it. You can then see if your friend is online and conduct an instant video call to them for free. You can also use your webcam for desktop video conferencing services such as Webcam Chat Roulette.
Don’t have a webcam? We wrote another article entitled Which Webcam Should I Buy? which provides tips on the features and specifications to look for, and a list of recommendations in various price ranges.