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Help Windows Desktop

Solving your video and webcam issues (Windows desktop)

If your friend can’t see your video feed at all (or you can’t see your friend’s), or if the video quality is poor, this guide will help you diagnose and fix the problem.

My friend can't see me at all

First, make sure your webcam is pointing towards you and that there’s nothing obstructing it.

Next, check that the camera is working with Skype:

In Skype, click Tools > Options

Then choose Video Settings. If Skype can’t see your webcam, you’ll see a message telling you so. If Skype can see your webcam, you’ll see the video from your camera.

If you see a screen like this, then you’ve found the problem – Skype can’t find a webcam.

Check the following:

  1. Is your camera plugged in?
    If you’re using an external webcam rather than a built-in one, make sure that it’s plugged in and switched on. If it’s connected to your computer by USB, try plugging it into a different USB slot. If you’re using a USB hub, try plugging the camera directly into a USB slot on your computer instead – and try disconnecting your other USB devices.

  2. Is another application using your webcam?
    Close any applications that might be using your webcam – including video-editing software, virtual camera software, instant messengers and internet browsers. If your webcam has a light to show when it’s in use and you see it when you’re not in a Skype call, then some other application is using your camera.

  3. Is your webcam installed correctly?
    Check that your camera is listed and enabled in Device Manager – even if you’re using the computer’s built-in camera. To get to Device Manager:

    In Windows 10 and Windows 8 desktop: Tap the Windows key and type Device Manager. Choose it from the results.

    In Windows 7: Click the Windows button and select Control Panel. Make sure that Category is selected in the top right corner, next to View by:. Click Hardware and Sound. Under Devices and Printers, select Device Manager.

    In Windows Vista: Click Start > Control Panel. Open System and Maintenance and click Device Manager.

    In Windows XP: Click Start > Control Panel. Open System and, in the Hardware tab, click Device Manager.

    Under Imaging devices, check that your camera is listed.

    If it is listed, make sure it’s enabled. Right-click and select Enable (if you see a Disable option, then the camera is already enabled).

    If it’s not listed, or if it has a question mark or exclamation mark, you’ll need to reinstall the camera. You can find the latest drivers for your camera on the internet – try searching for the camera model on Bing.

  4. Do you have the latest version of DirectX?
    Make sure that you have the latest version of Microsoft DirectX. For Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can get the latest version of DirectX by updating Windows with the latest service packs and updates. For Windows XP, you can download it here.

After you’ve checked all of the above, sign out of Skype (click Skype > Sign out) and in the Welcome to Skype window, uncheck the option Sign me in when Skype starts

Restart your computer, then sign in to Skype and check again that Skype can see your camera. 

If you’ve gone to Tools > Options > Video settings and you can see the video feed of whatever your camera’s pointing at, your camera is working fine with Skype.

If your friend still can’t see your video feed, check the following.

  1. Is your video on in Skype?
    When you’re in a video call, make sure that your video is switched on. If the video button has a line through it, like this, it means it’s switched off.

    Click the button to switch it on.

    Do you have a good connection?
    If the connection between you and your friend is poor, Skype may turn off your video to save bandwidth and prevent the call from dropping. The call quality indicator on the call bar can tell you how good the connection is.

    If the connection is poor, the indicator is red. See our guide to solving connection issues.

I can't see my friend at all

If you can’t see your friend’s video, the problem is either with their video/webcam, or with your settings.

  1. Check your privacy settings. 
    Go to Tools > Options and then choose Privacy settings. Under Automatically receive video and share screens with, make sure that either anyone or people in my Contact list only is selected. If you select no one, you won’t be able to see any video.

  2. Check your connection. 
    If the connection between you and your friend is poor, Skype may turn off your video to save bandwidth and prevent the call from dropping. Check out our guide to solving connection issues.

  3. Ask your friend to check their end. 
    The problem might be with the other person’s video or settings. Ask them to follow the steps in this guide.

The video quality is poor

If the video quality is poor – meaning that you and your friend can see each other’s video feed but the picture is too dark, blurred, pixelated or freezes – the following tips can help.

  1. Use the latest version of Skype.
    We’re always improving call quality, so for best performance, make sure that you and the person you’re calling are using the latest version of Skype. Download the latest version.

  2. Check your connection. 
    If the video freezes, looks block-like or has motion blur, it might be your internet connection (or your friend’s) causing the problem. If Skype detects a weak connection, it will reduce the quality to try and stop the call from dropping altogether. Check out our guide to solving connection issues.

  3. Improve the lighting conditions.
    A well-lit room can make a big difference to the video quality of your calls. For example, if you have a bright light behind you pointing into your webcam, your face will appear dark and featureless to the other person. If the room is too dark, your webcam will try to amplify the light to make the picture brighter, which reduces the video quality. For best results, make sure there is enough ambient light, and avoid back light.

  4. Upgrade your camera. 
    Built-in cameras in older laptops and tablets may not produce the best results. You might want to invest in a newer webcam. If you’re already using an external camera and you’re having problems with video, try plugging it into a different USB port.


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