Setting Up a Webcam on a Laptop

By Cheryl Grace Myers


Laptop Screens vs. Desktop Monitors

Setting up a webcam on your laptop typically requires more steps than setting one up on a desktop. With desktop monitors, you can adjust the height and angel of the screen easier because most monitors come with an adjustable stand or swivel features. Laptop screens are not as flexible because you need to move the whole computer and keyboard when moving your screen, making it inconvenient and uncompromising. Moreover, desktop monitors have thicker screens than those on laptops so they can hold and position the webcam better.

Integrated Webcams

Many laptops feature an integrated webcam, so you do not need to lug around the wires, external microphone, tripod and any other extra equipment. The integrated webcam stays affixed to the unit and does not fall of the screen when using the keyboard. If you have an integrated webcam installed, you should see a small hole or lens on the upper center of the monitor lid. Usually, the laptop has the software installed by the manufacturer and it is ready to use. If not, you may need to install the software or run the installer on your computer. Refer to the user manual provided with your laptop for specific operational instructions.

Installing the Hardware

If you do not have an integrated webcam on your laptop, you must install the hardware on your laptop. Begin with a clean desk, free of dust and other obstacles. You want to provide a flat surface for your laptop and webcam so the cables do not catch or tangle around other objects on the desk. Most operating systems have a plug-and-play feature that supplies the drivers needed for common hardware installations such as printers and webcams. Just plug the USB cable attached to the webcam into the USB slot on your laptop, usually located on the side or back of your system. A message on the taskbar will pop up indicating that your hardware is installed and ready to use.

Installing the Software

If your laptop does not provide the hardware drivers you need, or you want additional webcam functions, you must install the software. It is a good idea to use the software CD supplied with the webcam for additional features and support manuals. Typical software features may include sound and video settings. Do not insert your webcam, but insert the software CD first. An installer will begin installing your webcam and a wizard program will walk you through the process. Follow the instructions on your screen and plug your webcam into the USB drive only when instructed by the software Wizard. You may have to restart your computer. After rebooting, open the webcam program and position your camera. You can clip your webcam to the top of your laptop screen or set your webcam on a tripod, pile of books or other stable platform. You should have a good headshot view from the bottom of your neck to 1 inch above your head. Use the webcam for chatting, business meetings or any other way you wish.