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HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Troubleshooting Webcams (Windows Vista)

This document applies to HP and Compaq Desktop PCs with the Windows Vista operating system.
How to troubleshoot issues you may be having with a webcam when used with your HP or Compaq desktop PC.
If you are having difficulty getting the webcam to work, review the tips about using a webcam, and then follow the troubleshooting actions in this article.

Tips for webcams

  • Most webcams do not need to be turned on. They are always on and ready for you to use when connected to the PC. Viewing images from the webcam is a matter of accessing the webcam through a software program - such as HP TouchSmart Webcam, YouCam, or an instant messaging application.
  • Do not enter standby and then wake the system immediately, before the power light turns yellow. If so, the webcam may not function correctly until the computer is restarted. To avoid this issue, allow the system to fully enter standby before waking up the system.
  • If you installed the webcam separately (it did not come with your Vista PC), make sure the webcam drivers and software are compatible with Windows Vista.
  • If you are using an external webcam, make sure you install any webcam software from the CD before you plug the webcam to your computer. Without the software, the webcam may not be recognized by your computer and this can cause error messages.
  • If you are using an external webcam and the camera does not display Connected to computer, disconnect the webcam, wait for a minute, and then reconnect your camera.
  • If you have an external webcam, test it on another computer. If it functions properly on a different computer that has the same operating system, then you may need to install hardware drivers for your computer to work with the webcam. If an external webcam fails to work on several computers, your webcam may be defective. Contact the webcam manufacturer for specific diagnostic information and troubleshooting instructions.
  • Your webcam may not work properly across some network firewalls. If you have trouble viewing or sending video to someone, make sure the software that you are using has access through your firewall. Refer to the support information for the firewall or contact a network administrator for assistance.
  • If video from the webcam skips while video conferencing, close all other applications and background tasks, and limit your Internet browsing or streaming to preserve bandwidth. Dial-up Internet connections lack the data transfer capacity to handle both video and voice simultaneously. A broadband Internet connection is highly recommended for video messaging. Performance varies with dial-up connections.

Step 1: Close all software before starting a new webcam session

Sometimes after you finish using the webcam in a software program, the program may not properly release the webcam for other activities in other applications, or even the same application. Sometimes you cannot use the webcam because it is being accessed by another program by default. So, if you are having a problem with your webcam, close the program you are using it in and then restart the same program or open a different program.

Step 2: Restart your PC

Sometimes, closing the software application that was using the webcam is not enough. Some webcam software cannot close the webcam for other applications to use later. When this happens, the webcam cannot be used by any other application until the computer is restarted.

Step 3: Select the webcam in your video viewing software list

Make sure USB 2.0 Camera or the HP Pavilion Webcam is selected as the video input source in the software you are trying to use. The various software programs that can use the webcam use different terms for describing a video source and the option to select it can vary. Usually, camera, webcam, or video settings can be found in the preferences or properties pages for the software that uses the webcam.
If you have trouble finding where you can change the video source setting, try using the software's built-in help system.
If your PC includes a TV tuner, often the TV tuner is the default video input device. So, for example, if you are using Windows Live Messenger to have a video chat with your webcam, you need to select the HP Pavilion Webcam as the active input device because the TV tuner is the active video input device by default.
Example 1: Select webcam in Windows Live Messenger
To select the webcam as the default video input device in Windows Live Messenger:
  1. Open Windows Live Messenger.
  2. Click the arrow icon on the Windows Live Messenger toolbar.
  3. Select Tools and then Audio and Video Setup.
  4. Click Next, Next, and then Next again.
  5. In the "Select a Webcam you would like to use" drop-down list, select the name that corresponds to the webcam that is installed on your PC (such as HP Pavilion Webcam or USB 2.0 Camera).
  6. Click Finish.
    Figure : Selecting a webcam in Messenger
Example 2: Select webcam in muvee autoProducer 6
To select the webcam as the default video input device in muvee autoProducer 6 software program:
  1. Open muvee autoProducer 6, usually found in the All Programs menu.
  2. Click the Import Video/Pictures from a device button.
  3. Select From My Camcorder.
  4. In the Select Camcorder area, select HP Pavilion Webcam or USB 2.0 Camera in the drop-down list.
There are many other types of software that can access the webcam and display video, such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger, YouCam, HP TouchSmart Webcam, and others. Each of these has their own settings and menu items. Explore the options for each program in order to set the webcam device.

Step 4: Download the latest drivers and updates for your webcam and your video software

Some webcams may not be recognized by some software programs unless you have the most recent drivers and updates for your webcam hardware and webcam video software. Also, if the video footage from your webcam is in a format not supported by your video software, you may need a third-party plug-in or utility to view or convert the video footage to a format supported by your webcam video software.
  • If you installed the webcam separately, go to the webcam manufacturer's website and download the latest drivers, updates, plug-ins, or conversion utilities for any webcam video software. Make sure the webcam drivers and software are compatible with Windows Vista!
  • If you are having problems getting the webcam to be recognized by video playing or editing software, go the software manufacturer web site to find and install any updates or patches.
  • If a webcam came with your HP or Compaq PC, go to the HP Software and Driver page, choose your country/region, search for your computer model, and then download any drivers that may be available for the webcam.
  • Check Windows Update for any Vista-related drivers that may affect your webcam and your video software. Click the Start button, All Programs, and then Windows Update.

Step 5: Make sure you have the correct Vista drivers installed

If you are having problems hearing sound or using your webcam, try the following steps:
  1. Make sure you have installed the correct Vista drivers and not the generic sound driver in Windows. If you have installed the generic sound driver, uninstall the webcam video software and download and install this Vista sound driver, and then reinstall your webcam video software.
    To update Windows Vista drivers:
    1. Click the Start button, All Programs, and then click Windows Update. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    2. Click Check for updates.
    3. To see if updated drivers are available, click View available updates. Windows Update will list any updated drivers that are available for devices installed in your computer.
    4. If updates are available, click the driver that you want to install, and then click Install. Follow any onscreen instructions to finish installing the available drivers.
  2. You may need to set up the sound settings in your instant messaging program or any other video webcam software you are using with your webcam. Refer to the Help information in your webcam software.
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