Webcams have many uses but are of no use when they keep bombarding you with error upon error. While there are alternatives that let you avoid this problem in and of itself, the usual smart choice is to test your webcam either after you set it up or before you’re going to be using it, just so you can take care of any problems beforehand and not have to deal with them when you’re in the middle of something.
Setting up A Webcam
When plugged in, your PC should recognize the webcam immediately. You just need to either install it manually or wait for the installer to launch itself. Then reboot your PC, and you’re good to go. If the image is blurry at first, you can adjust resolution settings and such, but again, you won’t be aware of this problem until you test your webcam.
How to Test a Webcam Online
The easiest way to check a webcam is to use an online checker. Just Google ‘webcam test.’ You’ll find a bunch of websites that work for both the OS X and Windows. You go to one of these (for example this one), click the ‘Check My Webcam’ button or the equivalent and give the website permission to do so.
The site then shows your webcam stream on one side of the page, so you can get an idea of the display quality and such. Things should be in order if yours is just a default laptop webcam, but if it’s an external one you’re using and the stream appears blank here, then there’s a problem. Try reconnecting the webcam and setting it up again to see if it works.
How to Test a Webcam Offline
Yes, online webcam tests sound fishy and many of you might not want to go there. This is totally fine because you can test your webcam offline just as well, and without having to worry about your privacy. Unlike online tests, this one is a bit different depending on your operating system but still quite simple.
For a Mac, go to ‘Applications’ using the ‘Finder’ bar and open the ‘Photo Booth’ app. For an external webcam, you’ll have to tweak the settings a bit. Once you’re done, you can access your camera’s screen. For Windows users, let Cortana find you the ‘Camera’ app, grant it permission, and take a look at your camera feed.
How to Test a Webcam with Skype
You can use Skype as a tester for your webcam too. You launch the app, go to preferences/options, and then click Audio and Video/Video Settings (the names vary depending on the operating system). The same process can be used with other apps like Google Hangouts and Facetime, but the reason we’ve brought up Skype is that it can have a lot of issues working with webcams.
Solutions For When Testing Confirms Negative Results
So your webcam didn’t pass the test. Now what?
The Skype issues mentioned above can be resolved by a simple Skype update or even a system update. Many apps running in the background can also create trouble. And it’s always worthwhile to turn your system off and on or disconnect and reconnect your webcam if it’s an external one.
Similarly, Windows 10 tends to have issues with the webcam because it often disables the webcam apps by itself. Some ways to resolve these are to check your settings and your webcam drivers.
So, first head over to privacy settings and check the app permissions for the Camera app. If camera access is off, then your webcam is disabled and you will need to turn it on first. If this doesn’t work, you can check if your webcam is enabled in the Windows Device Manager. Sometimes, you may need to update the drivers as well. In business laptops, webcams can be enabled/disabled through the BIOS or UEFI firmware.
Double-checking any physical connections is always a good idea, and so is making sure that your webcam or any other streaming device you’re using is compatible with your PC.
Many people would argue that using a webcam in and of itself is a safety threat, but if you do need to use one, and are using a VPN and/or other security measures to protect yourself, simple steps such as the ones mentioned here can make the whole process much smoother.