What to Do When Your Skype Camera Is Not Working

A variety of causes can stop your Skype webcam from working properly

Skype can be an incredibly useful app for communicating with friends, family, and colleagues with its voice and video call functionality. Skype video not working properly, though, is a common problem for those using the Windows 10 Skype app and the various other versions of the popular chat app on iOS, Android, and Mac.

Here's what you need to know for when the Skype camera is not showing video and when the person you're talking to can't see you.

Causes of Skype Webcam Problems

The Skype webcam not working the way you want can be the result of a variety of causes ranging from the incorrect settings being chosen within the Skype app or the device's operating system to the camera being disconnected or physically covered. The device drivers, operating system, and Skype app may also be out-of-date and need to be updated.

Man on video conference in modern office.
MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Fortunately, most of the potential solutions to common Skype camera issues can be performed relatively quickly and with little advanced knowledge required. If you're experiencing issues with Skype beyond just a faulty webcam, something else may be the problem.

How to Fix Skype Camera Problems

When trying to fix webcam issues in Skype, it's important to work out what the actual causes of the problems are first. To correctly detect what's causing the camera to malfunction in Skype on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, work through this list of solutions and tips in order until the video call feature starts working properly.

  1. Uncover your webcam. If you're having trouble seeing any picture whatsoever from your webcam on Skype, check to see that its cover has been removed or is unobstructed by paper or tape. You should be able to see the glass lens of the webcam if it's properly uncovered.

    This is a problem you may encounter when using someone else's workstation for work, as some people choose to cover their webcam due to privacy concerns or may move their external webcam due to a lack of use.

  2. Check if your webcam's plugged in. This may be an obvious tip but it's also one that many people overlook when encountering problems with their webcam. If you have an external webcam that isn't built-into your device, make sure that it's connected to your computer, laptop, or a smart device and, if needed, also plugged into a power source.

  3. Turn your webcam on. While built-in webcams usually turn on automatically once a video call starts, some external webcams need to be turned on before your computer or smart device can detect them.

  4. Restart your computer, tablet, or smartphone. A tip as old as time but one that frequently works when dealing with a variety of electronics issues. A quick system restart can often fix problems with the Skype app and it takes less than a minute. 

  5. Update the Skype app. Updating the Skype app on your computer, tablet, or smartphone can often fix any compatibility issues with hardware such as your webcam.

  6. Perform a system update. Whether you're using a Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS device, if your operating system is out of date, some Skype features such as video chat may not work as intended.

  7. Close other apps. If you have a lot of apps open, some of them be slowing down the Skype app and preventing it from using all of its features fully. Having multiple apps open can also slow down your device's internet speed which can disable the webcam on Skype if it drops too low.

  8. Check your internet connection. Skype will disable the webcam if your internet speed isn't fast enough. A slow internet connection can also result in video buffering and poor image and sound quality.

    Typically, if your webcam turns off in the middle of a Skype video call, it means that it's your slow internet speed that is the issue. If the person you're talking to on Skype loses their webcam that means that it's their internet that's causing the problems. Skype will automatically re-enable the webcam when the internet speed picks up again.

    A cellular connection can often be faster than wired or wireless internet in many regions. If your internet service is too slow for Skype video chat, try disabling Wi-Fi and using your chosen mobile network instead.

  9. Restart your internet connection. If your internet is too slow or isn't connecting properly, restarting it can potentially speed it up. This can be done fairly easily by manually unplugging the modem and router from the wall, waiting around five minutes, and then plugging it back in.

    If your Skype webcam is working correctly and you can see your own camera feed within your app but the person you're calling can't see you, their slow internet speed may be the cause. In this case, there's nothing you can personally do to fix the problem. The person you're calling will need to fix their internet connection.

  10. Activate the webcam within the Skype app. It's possible that you may have started an audio call on Skype by mistake. You can quickly switch to a video call by clicking the video camera icon while the call is active.

  11. Check your Windows 10 privacy settings. If you're having trouble getting your webcam to work on a Windows 10 device, you may need to grant permission for it to work in the privacy settings.

    To do this, open All settings > Privacy > Camera and make sure that the switch under Allow apps to access your camera is switched to On.

  12. Check your Google Chrome settings. If you're using the Google Chrome web browser, you may have previously blocked access to your webcam to increase your privacy and security. This setting can prevent you from accessing your webcam when using the web version of Skype which works completely within browsers.

    Fortunately, you can allow access to your webcam again at any time via the Google Chrome settings.

  13. Check the Skype Status web page. Skye is a service provided by Microsoft and sometimes aspects of it can go down. This can affect your ability to use certain components of Skype, such as the webcam during a call, and can even disable all calls completely.

    To see if certain Skype services are offline, visit the Skype Status webpage.

  14. Try doing a Skype call with someone else. A glitchy Skype video call may not have anything to do with your app, device, or internet connection and could be caused by issues on your recipient's side. To check if this is the case, try calling another contact.

    The Skype app actually offers a feature that lets you make a test Skype call to a fake number. This can be used to check your webcam and other settings such as your mic audio levels.

    To start a test Skype call, click ... > Settings > Audio & Video > Make a free test call.

  15. Check if your device is fully compatible with the Skype app. If your device is a bit old, it may not meet the official minimum requirements for using all of Skype's features.

    The full list of minimum requirements for Skype are available to read on the official Skype website or individual app store listings.

  16. Manually set your Skype webcam. If you haven't used Skye in a while, or this is your first time using the app on your device, you may need to tell it which webcam to use.

    To do this, open Skype and click ... > Settings > Audio & Video and then select your preferred webcam from the dropdown menu.

  17. Plug your device in. It's possible that Skype is restricting webcam functionality in an attempt to save power on an unplugged laptop or smart device. Try plugging your device into a power source to see if this fixes the faulty webcam.

  18. Update your webcam's drivers. If you're using a Windows 10 computer, laptop, or tablet, you may need to update your webcam's device drivers.

    Usually, this happens automatically during a Windows Update but you can also double-check if a new driver is needed by opening Device Manager > Cameras > and then right-clicking on your webcam's name and selecting Update Driver > Search automatically for updated driver software.

  19. Try an alternative video chat app. If you've tried everything you can and you still can't get your camera to work properly in Skype, it might be worth trying another app for making video calls. Fortunately, there are a variety of rival apps that perform the same function as Skype that are also completely free to use. Some free video chat apps worth checking out are Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Line, and WeChat. Most friends and family members with a smartphone will likely already have at least one of these apps installed on their device, while those using a Windows or Mac computer can perform a video call via the Facebook website in any web browser.

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