How to Use a Built-In Webcam on a Laptop Computer

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How to Use a Built-In Webcam on a Laptop Computer
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When you have a built-in microphone and webcam in your laptop, you can make video calls with Skype, post videos on YouTube, livestream on Facebook and complete a variety of other video-based activities. Windows 10 includes a Camera app to control webcams, and you specify which apps and websites can access the camera in the system settings.

Using a Webcam

The Camera app in Windows 10 helps run the camera on your computer. Search for it by typing "camera" in the search box on the task bar and select the Camera app from the results. If you want to perform a webcam test to make sure your webcam is working correctly, running the Camera app is the best way to start. When the app opens, it displays a view window with simple controls. If you are using a laptop equipped with a camera light, the light turns on whenever the camera is on. Laptops without a camera light display notifications on the screen when the camera is turned on.

The Camera app's view window displays whatever the camera is filming. On laptops that have touch screens, you can resize the view window by using two fingers to stretch or pinch it. The Camera app's interface allows you to switch between photo and video mode quickly. Select the Camera Roll button to replay a video or look at a recent photo.

Turning Webcam Off in Apps

You can permit the webcam to be used while you're in specific applications and keep it turned off in others. You do this from the Windows 10 Settings dialog available on the Start menu. Click on Privacy and then select Camera from the App Permissions list. You can disable access to the webcam from all apps or turn access on and off for specific apps such as Facebook and Skype. Turning access off prevents an app from controlling the webcam directly, but an app may be able to start and control the Camera app unless you disable it. If you permit the Microsoft Edge web browser to use the camera, individual websites still need to ask for permission.

Optional Webcam Settings

The first time you start the Camera app on a laptop, you are asked if the webcam can access your location to add location information to videos and photos. If you change your mind about your initial setting of the option, you can change it by accessing Settings in the Camera app. Other options include the display of a framing grid, photo and video quality, and the location on the computer where photos and videos are stored.

Things to Do With a Webcam

While it's fun to Skype with family and friends from your laptop, there are many other uses of a webcam. With some basic monitoring software, you can set up a home surveillance system to identify intruders or watch a pet that's home alone. In a pinch, your webcam can also serve as a mirror to quickly check your appearance before a meeting.

Some webcam uses may even provide extra income. If you have expertise in a topic that people want to know about, whether it's assembling electronic equipment or putting on makeup, you can make tutorial videos or online classes and post them on your own YouTube channel. If you are good at video games, you may be able to make money by streaming your gaming sessions on Twitch. You can also use a webcam to produce podcasts and video blogs for fun or marketing purposes.