How to Troubleshoot Internal Laptop Cameras
By Joshua Duvauchelle
Many laptops now contain built-in, internal cameras. These cameras can be used with video and photo editing software, as well as chat rooms and instant messenger programs. Occasionally, individuals may experience problems using these internal laptop webcams. Fixing these problems can be more difficult due to the internal nature of the laptop's camera.
Determine whether the problem you are experiencing is specifically connected with a certain program. Some software programs may have errors of their own that affects the functioning of your laptop's internal camera. If you are having problems with a certain application, close it and try accessing your webcam with another program (for example, try using Yahoo! Messenger's video chat instead of MIcrosoft Live Messenger's video chat).
Check to see if the error is user account-specific. Both Windows and Mac OSX allow individual users to create separate accounts with separate user settings. If the webcam works on another account, it means that the internal webcam is not faulty. The laptop user may have changed his user account settings in a manner that affected the webcam.
Verify that your PC or Mac can recognize the internal webcam. On a PC, click the Start menu and open the Control Panel. Double-click "Add/Remove Hardware" and verify that your internal camera is listed. On a Mac, click "Applications" and open Utilities. Double-click "System Profiler." Look under "USB" and check that the webcam is listed.
Use a gentle, microfiber cloth (such as the type used to clean prescription eyeglasses) to wipe the lens of the internal camera. Due to the portable nature of laptops, specks of dust or dirt can sometimes get onto the lens and cause a distorted webcam image.
See if there are any webcam driver updates available. Common errors and problems experienced by consumers are usually fixed by the manufacturer through a software upgrade. On a Mac, click the Apple icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen and select "Software Update." On a PC, click the Start menu and select "Windows Update."
If you continue to experience errors with the laptop's camera, contact the manufacturer of the laptop, not the company that developed the software you use to activate the webcam (for example, Apple iChat or Microsoft Live Messenger). The contact information for the customer service department of your laptop's manufacturer can be found in your user manual.
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.