How to Install and Connect a Webcam to Your PC

Smiling woman enjoying video chat on laptop
Robert Daly / Getty Images

Before you start any project, big or small, such as connecting a webcam, it's important to know what you're going to be dealing with. So lay out your webcam materials so you have a clear picture of what you need to do.

Most webcams will have a USB connection, a software disk for their drivers, and, of course, the actual physical camera, where the lens is, which you'll need to put somewhere where you can see it (and where it can see you!)

Install Your Webcam Software

Before you can start using your webcam, you're going to need to install its drivers on your computer. Depending on your webcam, you'll either have received a CD loaded with the drivers, or it'll come with instructions to find them online. Since plenty of PCs today don't come with a disk drive, this might all be moot anyway, and you'll need to jump down to the "No Disk" section of this guide.

Using a CD

Unless otherwise instructed, insert the disk that came with your webcam before you plug it in.

Windows will recognize that you are attempting to install software, and a wizard should pop up to guide you through the process.

If it doesn't, simply navigate to My Computer, or This PC on Windows 10 via the desktop search or Start Menu, and click on your CD drive (usually E:) to get it to run the files on the disk.

Optical drive (E:) on Windows 10

No Disc? No Problem! Plug and Play

Many times, hardware (including some webcams) will come with no disk for drivers to install at all. There can be all kinds of reasons for this, but the biggest is, Windows has a (usually) great talent for recognizing and installing hardware with no software needed.

If your web camera didn't come with a software disc, simply plug it in and see what happens. Most often, Windows will recognize it as new hardware and either be able to use it or guide you through the process of searching for drivers (either online or on your computer) to use it.

You can also use Windows Update to look for your drivers manually. Search for Device Manager in the desktop search on Windows 10. The application you're looking for will be the first result.

Device Manager in Windows 10

When the window opens up, you'll see a complete listing of devices on your computer. Locate your webcam under Cameras or Imaging Devices. Right-click it, and select Update driver in the menu that opens. Walk through the wizard to see if Windows can find the drivers.

Update driver for webcam in Device Manager/Imaging devices

Of course, absolutely nothing might happen when you plug it in, and Windows might not be able to find the drivers. In that case, you'll probably want to read the instruction manual or visit the manufacturer's website to locate some driver software for the webcam. This is also what you should do if you've lost or thrown away the disc that came with your webcam. In recent years, as disc drives have become less common, webcam manufacturers have gotten much better about providing the latest drivers online.

Find Your Webcam's USB (or other) Connection

Most webcams will connect with a USB cord or something similar. Make sure you locate it on your computer. It's usually on the front or the back of the computer and looks just like it should -- like a tiny rectangle ready to receive your USB cord.

Plug your webcam in, and watch the magic happen. Your Windows machine should either help your installed software auto-open once you plug in the webcam, or you can browse to it via the start menu whenever you're ready to use it.

Of course, first, you'll want to figure out where to put your webcam.

Keep Your Webcam on a Flat Surface

You don't have to be a professional photographer to take effective webcam videos or photos, but a few tricks of the trade do apply.

Your webcam should be placed on a flat surface​ so that your pictures and videos don't appear crooked or skewed. Some people use a stack of books, or even a tripod -- especially if you're interested in aligning your webcam to shoot video of something other than what's directly in front of your screen, which is where many people prefer it to be.

Find Your Webcam's Monitor Clip

Depending on the style and model of your webcam, it may or may not have a convenient and adjustable clip on it in order to attach it to your monitor.

It is most people's preference to attach their webcam to the top of their monitor​ because it allows them to be recorded as they're looking at their PC monitor. This is helpful if you're recording a webcast, a video diary, or chatting with friends or family on your web camera.

Clip Your Webcam to your Monitor

Once you've found the clip to sit securely on top of your monitor, you'll be ready to position your webcam. If your monitor is super thin, it might take a bit more creativity to secure it, but manufacturers are taking ultra-thin displays into account now too.

Clipping your webcam to a flat panel display is probably the most useful and versatile place you can put it. And, of course, it's easy to take it off and place it somewhere else if you need to.

This is actually one feature that puts desktop PC webcams a step above standard laptop webcams since they tend to be stuck in the same place centered at the top of your monitor. Of course, the tradeoff is, your laptop PC is portable itself, so it's not a huge deal.

Once Connected, Browse to Your Webcam Software

Once you have connected your webcam and placed it where you want it to go, it's time to turn it on and see what it can do!

Logitech Webcam Software on Windows 10

Because you've already installed the software that came with your webcam, using it is as easy as opening up the Start Menu and browsing to your webcam program, shown here as Logitech Webcam Software. Obviously, yours will be associated with the brand and model of your own webcam.

Windows 10 comes with its own Camera app which actually works really well with most brands too if your webcam's own software is lacking.