There are few things more frustrating than when a Windows 10 camera stops working properly. Whether you have an integrated webcam, like on Microsoft Surface devices, or a separate piece of hardware, there are a variety of tips and tricks you can use to fix it.
Cause of Windows 10 Webcam Bugs
A webcam that's not working on a Windows 10 computer, tablet, or laptop is usually the result of faulty or out-of-date drivers.
Another cause is incorrect settings in the Windows 10 operating system or associated webcam software, which can disable or hide a webcam.RantaImages/iStock/GettyImages
How to Fix a Windows 10 Webcam
If your Windows 10 webcam isn't working, all is not lost. There are a few things you can try that might get it working again. Work through these steps one at a time, trying each one until you find the solution to your problem.
Unplug it and plug it in again. If your webcam connects to your Windows 10 device via USB, this is a quick way to fix it.
Powering the webcam off and on again will reset it. A reset can also force your Windows 10 device to detect the camera once it's plugged in.
Try plugging it into a different USB port. If your Windows 10 device isn't detecting your USB webcam at all, try another port.
Restart your computer. It's a trick as old as time, but it's one that works. Restarting a Windows 10 computer, laptop or tablet can often fix a variety of problems including a broken webcam.
Unplug and restart. Try a combination of the previous two solutions. Unplug the USB webcam, restart your computer, and then plug the webcam back in again.
Check for Windows updates. Updating Windows 10 can fix any issues you're having as well as download firmware and driver updates that can improve the performance of your webcam.
Check the camera's body. It's possible that the webcam is broken and in need of repair. If no signs of damage are visible, the next best way to check if it's broken is to connect it to another compatible computer or laptop. If it doesn't work on that device either, you have your answer.
If you don't have another computer, laptop, or webcam-compatible tablet, try connecting the webcam to an Xbox One console.
Check the app you're using with the webcam. It's possible the webcam is working, but an app is causing problems. The easiest way to check this is to try using the camera in another Windows 10 app such as Skype, Instagram, or Camera. If the app is the problem, you may need to give it access to the camera in the app's settings.
Check your privacy settings. In Windows 10, you need to give apps access to your webcam before they can detect it and use it. Go to Settings > Privacy > Camera and turn on Allow apps to access your camera.
Under this general option, you will also see switches for individual apps. It's worth taking the time to go through this list to enable or disable webcam access for each app so that you can get the camera working for the apps you want. Then you'll know which apps can and can't turn on your webcam.
Check the webcam software's settings. Some webcams come with software that manages the device's settings. The Lenovo Settings app, for example, has a Privacy Mode setting which completely disables the webcam.
Check your Bluetooth connection if you're using a wireless webcam. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled in Windows 10 so that your device can detect it. You can do this by opening the Windows 10 Action Center and clicking on the Bluetooth tile.
To open the Action Center in Windows 10, click the Notifications icon in the bottom-right corner of the taskbar. Alternatively, you can swipe a finger in from the right side of the screen if your device has a touchscreen.
Check if the camera is disabled in the Windows 10 Device Manager. To enable it again, open Device Manager, and click the arrow to the left of Cameras to display all of your webcams. If there's a small arrow icon on the camera icon itself, this means that it's disabled. You can enable it again by right-clicking on it and clicking Enable.
To open Device Manager, search for it in the search box in the Windows 10 taskbar.
Disable and enable the webcam in Device Manager. Doing this can sometimes trigger Windows 10 to notice a device. Find the camera in the Device Manager as in the previous step, right-click on your camera's name, and click on Disable. Then right-click on it again and choose Enable. Do not click Uninstall.
Update the webcam's driver. Device drivers keep things running correctly, and updates are often required to maintain compatibility with that latest versions of Windows. To check for a new driver for your webcam, locate your webcam in Device Manager once again, right-click on it, click on Update driver > Search automatically for updated driver software.
Roll the driver back to a previous version. Occasionally a new version of a driver negatively affects the device. To roll it back, locate your camera within the Device Manager, right-click on it and click on Properties > Driver > Roll back driver > Yes.
Restart Windows 10 after the process is complete.
Check for Windows 10 compatibility. Some webcams were made for older versions of Windows and may not be compatible with desktop computers, tablets, or laptops running Windows 10. One way to check this is to look at the packaging or manuals that came with your camera. Another is to locate it within Device Manager, right-click on its name and click on Properties > Driver > Driver Details and look in the file list for a file named stream.sys. Unfortunately, if you see this file, this means that your webcam is too old and isn't compatible with Windows 10. If this is the case, you'll have no choice but to buy a new one.