Webcams are fairly straightforward devices, but as with anything else sometimes, things don't always work right. Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to try:
1. Check the webcam software:
Some webcam manufacturers include software or drivers for their cameras. You may need to install or update this software before some or all camera functionality works. Also, check older webcam documentation to see what version of your operating system they were tested on. A newer OS may have trouble working with an older device.
2. Check the camera and application settings:
Your camera might be on and may even have an LED light to indicate it has power or is recording, but you still don't see anything where you expect. If your webcam came with software, check the settings there.
If you're using an application such as Zoom or Google Meet, check and ensure the video input source is the camera you want. You may have "software" or "virtual" cameras installed and incorrectly selected.
3. Check the camera and computer hardware: If the software and settings are correct, then the issue may be with the hardware itself. Check the connections and make sure everything is plugged in correctly. If you are using an external webcam, try plugging it into a different USB port. You can also easily verify if the problem is likely the camera or computer by testing the webcam on another computer.
4. Powercycle or reset the SMC in the case of a Mac:
If you aren't familiar with how to reset the SMC on a Mac, that can vary by model, but we have an article that you can find here that will teach you how to reset the SMC.
Alternatively, you can try a full power cycle of the device Mac or PC by doing the following:
- Shut down your PC or Mac
- Unplug the device from AC power
- Wait 30 seconds
- Plug the power source back in
- Power the device back on.