How to Use a USB Webcam With a Laptop With Cam

By Jeff Grundy

Video chat is the main allure of a webcam for many users.
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Many contemporary laptops feature an integrated webcam you can use to record videos or join in video chat sessions. Most built-in webcams are of suitable quality, but if you want advanced features such as panning, auto-tracking and higher video resolution, an external webcam is your best bet. Adding a second webcam to your laptop is simple enough, but getting the secondary camera to work with chat and video capture applications is a little more challenging. To get the second webcam to work with many software applications, you must disable the laptop's built-in webcam.

Step 1

Click "Start" and then "Control Panel." Click "System and Security." Click the "Device Manager" link under the System heading.

Step 2

Click the "Imaging Devices" link in the Device Manager list and highlight the name of the laptop's built-in webcam.

Step 3

Right-click your webcam device name and click "Disable" on the pop-up list. When the confirmation window appears and asks if you are sure that you want to disable the webcam, click "Yes." Close the Device Manager window.

Step 4

Insert the installation CD for the new webcam into your laptop's optical drive. Wait for the setup wizard to appear and follow the on-screen instructions to install the webcam on your laptop. Restart your computer if prompted to do so.

Step 5

Connect the webcam's USB cable to the device and an open USB port on your laptop. Wait a few seconds for Windows to detect the webcam and configure its driver.

Step 6

Launch your preferred video chat application and log in with your username and password. Click the "Options" or "Tools" link on the program's menu bar. Click "Preferences" or "Settings," then the "Video Settings" or "Camera Settings" link.

Step 7

Select the new webcam from the list of camera devices. If the program has a "Preview" or "Test" link in the settings menu, click it to ensure the camera works before continuing. Click "OK" or "Save Settings" to save the new settings for the video chat application.

Step 8

Click the "Contacts" or "Friends" link to see a list of friends connected and online. Double-click the name of a contact or friend to open a chat window. Click the button or link that opens the video chat link and wait for your friend to accept your invitation. Once the friend accepts, you will see your friend on your screen and she will be able to see you, if she has a webcam.