Setting up a simple webcam – if your computer doesn’t already have one built in – isn’t difficult as long as you stick to the easy steps that follow and apply a little patience.
It’s important to realise that there are hundreds of different types and brands of webcams and they all have slightly different installation instructions. So you must follow the ones that came with your webcam very carefully and do exactly as they say.
a computer that’s connected to the internet
a webcam (including a USB cable if it’s not a wireless version)
Follow these step-by-step instructions to install a webcam
The following assumes that you’re using a PC running Windows.
Step 1: Buy your webcam from a reputable supplier, either online or a local computer shop. Webcams come in all shapes and sizes, and vary from basic models to more complicated ones that come with extra gadgets such as motion detectors. Prices vary a lot, too. Make sure that the one you choose has a built-in microphone if you want to use your webcam for chatting to friends and relatives.
Step 2: Carefully read the installation instructions before attempting to install the webcam.
Step 3: Make sure you have everything to hand that you’ll need to complete your installation. The webcam should come with a USB cable that will connect it to your computer (except if you have a wireless version).
Step 4: The webcam package includes a CD containing important software. Insert this into your computer’s CD drive. The set-up program should run automatically, but if it doesn’t, click Start and then My Computer. Double-click on the disk drive as this will prompt the files to run on the CD.
Step 5: Make sure that you follow meticulously the steps of the software program – you’ll be installing the drivers that allow your computer to communicate with the webcam. It may be important to plug in the webcam in a certain order with other cables and equipment, so only plug it in when prompted to do so.
Step 6: Now position your webcam. If it has a monitor clip, attach it securely to the top of your screen pointing at your face (see left for an example). Adjust it so that that people at the other end can see your whole face and not just your forehead.
Once you’ve adjusted it to your satisfaction, don’t fiddle with it during a call – there’s nothing more irritating to the person you’re talking to than to spend a call looking, first, at the light fitting and then at the carpet while you’re chatting.
If your webcam doesn’t have a clip, make sure it’s sitting firmly on a flat surface so that your web pictures are level. The tops of older-style CRT monitors are perfect for webcams to sit on.
Remember that everyone will see whatever is behind you, so keep it tidy – and think about getting dressed!
Step 7: Now you’ve completed the set-up, it’s time to see the results! Click Start again and find your webcam program. Double-click on it and the program will open up.
Do remember, and remind your children, that any pictures you make available to others from your webcam could remain on the internet forever.
Felicity Holden is a Digital Unite tutor and a freelance writer.