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How to Use a Web Camera

Using a web camera is easy and fun, but there are a few helpful things for you to know.

1. Is your web camera built into the body of your computer (as in a laptop or Apple’s iMac)? Usually it is in the top middle casing of a laptop or external flatscreen monitor as below. This type of camera is ready to go. As soon as you load the right software and activate it, the cam will begin shooting/recording. More on this in a minute.


Macbook Built-in Web Camera

2. Is your web cam separate from your computer as in the example Logitech model below?  If you have an external camera, be sure that is connected to your computer. It won’t work otherwise! Usually this is achieved with the included USB cable but there are also wireless models. Check the manual if you aren’t sure.

When you first connect your camera, your computer may install some software (called drivers) that allow your computer to communicate with the hardware. Don’t worry, this will only happen the first time.

Logitech Web Camera

Logitech External Web Camera

Great! Your web cam is connected (or is built-in-) and you are ready to go.

  • If you have a PC, the default web camera software is usually Windows Movie Maker. Load the software and choose “Import: From digital video camera”. Windows Movie Maker will find your hardware and activate it.
  • However, individual cameras and computers also have their own proprietary software. Who said life was simple! For example, Dell laptops have their built in “Dell Webcam”. If you can’t find the software, scroll through ‘All programs’ until you see the appropriate title.
  • If you have a Mac computer, load iMovie. Click on the small camera icon on the middle-left hand side of the screen. If you have trouble finding the icon you can also choose “File” “Import from Camera”. iMovie will find your connected camera and begin delivering a feed.
  • In both cases above, once you can see yourself on camera, press the “record” button and off you go. You are making your first web video. When you press ‘Stop’ your computer will automatically save your recorded video. Then you can edit it or export it and upload to sites such as YouTube.

Keep on experimenting. You can adjust lighting, sound and your shot composition to meet your needs. For more tips on how you can make amazing web videos, check out free chapters from my book Naked Lens: Video Blogging & Video Journaling to Reclaim the YOU in YouTube.


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