Ask The Experts Windows

Can’t See Yourself in Skype? Fix Webcam Problems Fast!

Kannon Yamada 09-12-2015

Nothing is more infuriating than when you’re trying to make a video call, and your webcam refuses to work. This week, Kannon Yamada will explore how to diagnose webcam problems in both Windows and Skype, and how to resolve them.


A Reader Asks:

I have a pretty standard computer running Windows 8. For the past few weeks, I’ve not been able to make video calls with Skype. My webcam simply refuses to work. Do you know how I can fix it?

Kannon’s Reply:

Fixing Skype sucks. I always recommend using the infinitely better Google Hangouts The Best All-in-One Messaging & Calling App for Android: Google Hangouts What if there was one app that could do it all? Meet Google Hangouts for Android. Read More  or – but if you’re a Skype die-hard, there’s some simple tips to getting it to work properly. Seriously, though, there’s lots of reasons why Hangouts beats out Skype 5 Reasons Google Hangouts Are Cooler Than Skype For Video Chats Hangouts is Google's take on chat rooms. Like many times before, Google has turned a good idea into something incredibly useful, while preserving simplicity and ease of use and thus making it fantastic. In this... Read More . If you haven’t tried it, you should.

Skype – like most video chat applications – revolves around three components: The microphone, speaker, and the webcam. Whenever a user experiences problems, they need to first make sure that all three components work properly. For example, if you recently upgraded to Windows 10, audio problems abound. Skype can suffer from problems that originate from the Operating System (OS) or from Skype itself. But before you begin troubleshooting, start with a few simple fixes.


Troubleshooting Skype in Baby Steps

A good first step in any Skype troubleshooting scheme is to inspect all three components, first, before moving onto other options. So first, let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself three questions:

  • Is your microphone, speaker, or webcam physically connected?
  • Do you see lights on any of the devices?
  • Does it work on other computers?

If you’ve answered “yes” to the above three questions, move onto checking whether or not Skype works, period. If you answered no to the above questions, then you have a hardware problem and might need to replace that particular piece of hardware.


Smartphone and tablet users don’t need to worry about the above three steps as their microphones, speakers, and cameras are already connected.

Check If Skype Is Properly Configured

First, open Skype. Then from within the Skype interface select Tools from the tabs at the top of the screen. Then choose Options.

select tools and options in skype

Check the Webcam From Within Skype

In the pane on the left, you’ll see several options. Choose Video settings. If you don’t see a video image of yourself in the right panel, then that means your camera is improperly configured or the lighting is not properly adjusted. If you do see an image of yourself, that means the camera works.


If you have more than one webcam attached to your PC, then you might need to select the correct one.

If the video image of yourself is too dim, then you might need to adjust the lighting settings. In this case, go to Webcam settings.

video settings skype

Select Camera Control in the tab at the top of the screen. Then check the box for Low Light Compensation. That should automatically brighten your webcam image up. If it does not, skip to the section below titled “Check the Webcam in Windows“.


webcam settings skype

Check the Microphone or Speakers From Within Skype

Just in case you’re also experiencing microphone or speaker problems, in the pane on the left, you’ll see an option for Audio settings. Select Audio settings.

skype audio window

In the right pane, you’ll see all of the attached microphones and speakers. You can change the associated device by left-clicking on the downward facing arrow. This brings up the complete number of devices that are available to Skype. If the one that Skype defaults to doesn’t work, try different options until it works. For example, I can change from the Echo Cancelling Speakerphone to my Realtek Digital Output.


skype audio and speakers

Check the Webcam, Speakers, and Microphone in Windows

All devices rely on driver support at the OS level in order to work properly. Troubleshooting Windows How to Troubleshoot Video & Audio Playback Issues on Your Windows PC No video, no sound, how frustrating! Luckily your problem is likely to be a common Windows issue that we can help you troubleshoot right here, right now. Read More can require a lot of effort. In Windows, you can check the status of your drivers in Device Manager. Just go to the Search bar (which is located from within the Start menu) and type in Device Manager. You can also access the Device Manager from the Windows Control Panel.

check windows device manager

Dealing With Drivers

From within Windows Device Manager, you’ll see all the hardware that’s connected to your machine. If you notice any red, yellow, or down-point arrow icons, that means the device isn’t functioning.

Expand the entry for Imaging devices by left-clicking on the right-pointing arrow next to the Imaging devices entry.

Note: You can also check the microphone and speakers here. The troubleshooting steps are identical, although you would go to the entry for Audio inputs and outputs AND Sound, video and game controllers instead of Imaging devices, for microphones and speakers.

windows device manager imaging devices

Then right-click on the device, or devices, located underneath Imaging devices. This brings up a context menu. On the context menu, choose Update Driver Software. Then choose Search automatically for updated driver software. If you’re lucky, this will fix the issue. If it does not, choose Properties from the context menu.

properties menu imaging devices device manager

You have two options here. You can try to reinstall the drivers. In this case, you’d need to locate the model of your webcam and go to the manufacturer’s website for driver support.

Alternatively, you can choose to uninstall the device and then restart your computer. From the Properties menu, choose Uninstall and then restart your computer.

uninstall driver windows device manager

Choose the Default Webcam, Speakers, or Microphone

Windows won’t always automatically default to the correct device. To set the correct devices as the default, you need to go to Windows Sound. Open Windows Search and type in Sound. Then click on the Sound icon. You can also reach this through the Control Panel.

windows sound

From Windows Sound, right-click on the device suffering difficulties. Then from the context menu you can either choose Set as Default Device or Set as Default Communications Device. If you set it as the Default Communications Device, it will automatically become the default whenever Skype is launched. If the device is not connected, it will display with a red icon in its lower-right side. If it’s been disabled, you’ll see a downward-pointing arrow icon. If it’s functioning properly, you’ll see a green icon.

set device as default sound

After you’ve set the device as the default, restart the computer. Then start Skype and see if it’s working properly. If it’s not, you might have a hardware issue which requires a technician. Intermittent sound problems How To Fix Intermittent Sound Problems In Windows Sound problems are annoying. Doubly so when they're intermittent. Here's how you can diagnose and solve them in Windows. Read More are a frequent sign of hardware failure.

We Can Help You Too!

We helped this reader. We can help you, too. Got a burning question, or a tech problem you need solved? Just click the button above! And, of course, please leave any feedback or comments in the comments below!

Related topics: Skype, Troubleshooting, Webcam.

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  1. Steve Morris
    October 29, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    so wheres the answer to the query above ? Originally skype worked fine then all of a sudden the camera just stopped working when i went to use it after a long lapse - all i get is a black screen with a rotating circle in the centre. Ive reinstalled Skype and my HD webcam drivers, all up to date, i've tried rolling back both driver and skype program with no success. Webcam works fine on other programs i.e. facebook and bluestacks ( which were not running at time of trying to use skype ). I've connected my wifes desktop camera to my laptop an that works fine on skype so why the hell wont my laptop camera work anymore on skype. All i want to do is throw this damn laptop under a bus as we are forever trying to resolve one problem after another with no help from the overpaid software writers who and hardware builders who cant get their frigging acts together to standardise their unstable systems

    • Kannon Yamada
      November 6, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Hi Steve, it may have been a Windows update that caused Skype to stop working properly.

      There are a lot of complicating factors though. For example, Windows sometimes installs two different versions of Skype. There is a desktop version and a mobile app version. The mobile app can be installed from the Microsoft Store. The desktop version can be installed by a downloadable package that oftentimes originates with a browser.

      And it's that degree of complexity that leads to serious problems. Oftentimes, users find themselves reinstalling the app but having uninstalled an app that they weren't even using. I recommend trying out both the mobile (MS store) and the desktop version of the app. If one works, uninstall the other.

  2. Annoyed
    April 25, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    So where's the article?

    • Kannon Yamada
      April 25, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Looks like an ad-blocker malfunction or something. That's not the normal behavior of the site. I can't explain it, but it might show up if you whitelist the site or temporarily disengage your blocker.

    • Gavin Phillips
      April 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

      The issue with Ublock and other ad-blocking tools has been rectified. Please consider whitelisting MUO. We rely on advertising money to eat and use very sympathetic content.

      • Kannon Yamada
        April 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

        Thanks for the heads up Gavin!