How to Use a Different Webcam Instead of Computer Webcam

By Christopher Williams

External webcams are often an upgrade over built-in models.
i webcam image by Régis Verger from

Many computers, particularly laptops, come equipped with built-in webcams. However, built-in webcams lack some of the features available in aftermarket models. The most obvious limitation of built-in cams is their fixed position. They can only look in the direction the computer is facing, and it is easier to rotate and reposition a small webcam as opposed to your entire computer. Aftermarket cams also offer increased resolution over most built-in models. Whatever your reason for wanting to use an external cam, such cameras are easy to install and use, even alongside a built-in webcam.

Attach your webcam to your computer. Most webcams attach via a USB connection, but other connections such as Firewire are sometimes used. If you are unsure, consult your documentation, though the plugs for each type are unique and often obvious upon visual observation.

Insert the installation disc that came with your webcam. A prompt will appear on the screen guiding you through the installation process for drivers and software.

Launch the software in which you wish to use your webcam. This may be instant messaging software, a website, meeting software or another software program with videoconferencing capabilities.

Open the preferences for the software you are using, and find the section for video preferences. This process will vary slightly among programs, so if you have trouble finding it, consult the help documentation for your software.

Select your camera as the preferred device for your software program. Again, this varies slightly among programs but you should find within the video preferences a dropdown list or selection box where you can choose between installed video devices.