How Do I Access My PC Web Cam?

by Brent Watkins

Webcams are popular accessories for programs that use video to communicate on the Internet. Most use webcams to place long distance video calls to friends or family. Some use their webcam to stream video 24 hours a day to show weather conditions or monitor personal property. Assuming the device is properly installed, how you access your webcam depends on how you want to use it. With the right software, your webcam can create new opportunities to share video with others.

Windows Live Messenger

Download and install Windows Live Messenger.

Click the menu icon in the upper right corner of the program window.

Click "Tools" then "Audio and video setup."

Confirm the audio settings and click the "Next" button to continue to display your webcam. If you have multiple video devices available, select your webcam from the pull-down menu directly above the video monitor window. Use Windows Live Messenger to place video calls with your webcam to other Windows Live Messenger contacts.

Windows Media Encoder

Download and install Windows Media Encoder.

Select "Capture audio or video" from the "New Session" window to record webcam video to your hard drive. Click the "OK" button to continue.

Select your webcam from the "Device Options" pull-down menu for video and audio. Choose the webcam as the video device and click the "Next" button.

Click the "Browse" button to choose the folder where you want the recorded video saved.

Click on "File Archive" from the "Content Distribution" window and click the "Next" button.

Accept the default settings in the following wizard windows by clicking the "Next" button until you come to the Settings Review window. Click the "Finish" button.

Start recording video with your webcam by clicking the green "Start Encoding" button.

Skype

Download and install Skype to call other Skype users with your webcam. Skype will automatically detect and set up your webcam.

Add contacts by clicking "Contacts" and "New Contact" from the main menu. Enter their Skype name, full name or email address to add them to your contact list.

Place a video call by clicking on the contact name and then clicking the green "Video Call" button.

Tip

  • Windows Media Encoder can also be used to stream live video from your webcam to the Internet using an Internet Service Provider running Windows Media Server.

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About the Author

Brent Watkins works as a writer, producer and production technologist for film and television. He began writing for "Church & Worship Technology" magazine in 2002. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Watkins is passionate about digital media and emerging production technologies. A graduate of the University of Iowa, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and theatrical arts.

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